Judging from the film trailer and the colourful advertisements, Charlie’s Angels has the potential to be super misogynistic, overtly sexual or really sexy and a lot of fun. Who knows… maybe none of the above. Here’s two different perspectives on the angels.
Once upon a time, there lived three angels named Cameron Diaz, Lucy Liu and Drew Barrymore. They all led secret lives as an elite female fighting force funded by a mysterious millionaire named Charlie Townshend. Bill Murray also appears in this story, though not as often as he should.
Between their regular lives and regular quest for good, decent men, the angels try their darndest to be independent women with unusual jobs. Hired by a telecommunications company to recover its kidnapped president and voice-identification software, the angels play up the camp value of the story. The movie has enough cascading tresses to shame an Herbal Essences commercial, and Barrymore even cheekily adopts, Farrah Fawcett’s famed feathered ‘do for one scene.
But then this story takes an insidious turn; the beautiful swan tries to escape the fairytale and enter the matrix of a bona fide action movie. Generally it works, although the attempts to fill in character and motivation (like Barrymore’s absentee father sub-subplot) come off as lame and cheesy. The angels acquit themselves well in the fight scenes, and co-producer Barrymore’s insistence on no guns for the angels means more exciting hand-to-hand combat.
Of course, anyone looking for messages of female empowerment in a movie about three gorgeous and scantily-clad women (would someone please give Diaz a pair of pants?) working for a mysterious old man shouldn’t look here. This is, after all, just a fairytale.
Before Baywatch–heaven forbid we ever get a film version of that–Charlie’s Angels was the place to go for T&A on TV. It made stars out of actors who really had no business being stars, yet was popular because the concept was ingenious: it’s essentially Mission Impossible except, instead of Ethan Hunt, there are three beautiful, sexy and usually braless women.
The Tff. show translates to the big screen surprisingly well as pure campy fun. It’s ridiculous, but self-consciously so; everyone in the film seems to be in on the joke and their enthusiasm is contagious.
The angels, played with ditzy gusto by Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz and Lucy Liu, are an elite crime fighting team who act like junior high school girls at a slumber party. That is, until they need to crack into a high-tech global positioning satellite, or infiltrate an absurdly guarded corporate building in order to re-wire a super-computer.
The plot involves a kidnapping, some voice-recognition software, and a sinister plan which frankly doesn’t seem all that sinister. The plot is flimsy and riddled with holes, but it doesn’t really matter. Few will go to this film looking for intellectual stimulation.
The martial arts scenes are well choreographed, despite some rather obvious Matrix-style wire-work. Almost all of the angels’ plans hinge on their assurance they will be able to seduce or in some way distract men.
When all is said and done, Charlie’s Angels succeeds admirably, when it could easily have fallen flat–and there is nothing flat about this movie.