Charlie's Angels

Charlie's Angels director McG made his name with distinctive, candy-colored videos for Sugar Ray and Smash Mouth that reveled in camp for its own sake. Using cultural kitsch signifiers (beach movies, Kiss, roller rinks) devoid of context or satirical intent, the approach made for some emptily entertaining videos, but stretched to feature length, the formula proves less enjoyable. Adapted from Aaron Spelling's TV jigglefest, McG's feature-length debut stars Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, and Lucy Liu as elite crime-fighters—funded by a mysterious millionaire—who become involved in a case involving industrial espionage and wealthy young genius Sam Rockwell. The original Charlie's Angels had it both ways, offering empowering role models for girls and masturbation fodder for boys. The new Angels replicates that feat, establishing the Angels as multilingual, super-proficient bad-asses and then requiring them—with the exception of the stone-faced Liu—to behave like giggly, exhibitionist middle-schoolers fed a steady diet of Mountain Dew and Pixie Stix. The film also tries to have it both ways in other respects, reveling in the escapist pleasures of dumb humor, leering double entendres, and all the T&A a PG-13 film will allow, while never letting the audience forget that McG and company are in on the joke. Of course, nothing renders dumb escapist fare less enjoyable than winking self-consciousness (as evidenced by the unbearable Spice World), but Charlie's Angels seems too impressed with itself to notice. Alternating between expository dialogue (wooden and clumsy enough to have come directly from the original series) and heavy-handed camp at its most insultingly obvious (most glaringly during a scene in which Diaz break-dances on Soul Train to Sir Mix-A-Lot's "Baby Got Back"), Angels feels both threadbare and overstuffed. Producer and star Barrymore insisted that the Angels never carry guns, which would be a lot nobler if it didn't necessitate every action scene ripping off the Hong Kong-by-way-of-The Matrix style utilized in just about every other action movie this year. Legendary weirdo Crispin Glover provides the only bright spot, investing his creepy henchman with more personality than Charlie's Angels manages over the course of 98 excruciating minutes.

Filed Under: Film

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