My Take: Energetic, mindless summer eye-candy entertainment.
It's easy to smirk or be nit-picky at something quite as silly as a $92 million big-screen version of CHARLIE'S ANGELS. Looking back, its roots date back to a successful yet critically-reviled TV series in the 70's. Bring it here, at our modern period, and be sure to be laughed at. Joel Schumacher did it, in his 1997 mega-expensive bomb (if you call any movie grossing more than a hundred million dollars, a bad as it is, a bomb) BATMAN AND ROBIN, which was immensely hated by everyone (including yours truly). Now comes CHARLIE'S ANGELS, another big-budget comedy action film lifted from some age that probably no longer exists (at least not on our generation). It's director is a former MTV director. And the script, forget it! How could they make a movie like this? Or maybe a more interesting question would be, after watching it, how could I have possibly loved it? Yes! Regardless of having to remind myself that it was meant to be ridiculous, I positively loved CHARLIE'S ANGELS, silliness and all. You can nitpick all the dumbness and stupidity of the script, but here's someone (among a surprisingly high number of others) who are happy to defend its silliness. It's pure style-over-substance matter, and the style really won me over. The stunts are completely unbelievable, the story probably never left the 70's and the script, the whole script, injects enough camp to make this piece sit right there with the original TV show (of which I wasn't exposed to). But the great thing about that is it was thrown in for laughs and a whole lot of fun. The entire piece never took itself seriously, throwing it a lot of brainless fun at every turn. Director McG (born Joseph McGinty Nichol) uses his stylish skills as an MTV director to good use. Every bit feels like an exhilarating no-questions-asked playhouse of brainless style, and I mean that in the nicest of ways.
The film is one-part MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE (and in one instance, after the Angels have described their plan to break in to a room, like that in the MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE movie, one of their superiors tells them "That's impossible", followed by a "Sounds like fun" response of excitement from the crime-fighting Angels), another-part John Woo action flick, one-part pure 70's camp and another part spoof of it all, and thrown in, for good measure, some MATRIX-inspired slow-mo stunts. After opening with one of its first few outrageous stunt sequences, the story proceeds, concerning a new set of Angels, including smart and uber-sexy Natalie (Cameron Diaz), tough-cookie but never-not-attractive Dylan (Drew Barrymore) and no-nonsense and no-less sex-appeal Alex (Lucy Liu), as always taking orders from unseen voice-in-a-speakerphone Charlie (voiced by John Fosythe, returning to his voice-acting role form the TV show). Their new mission: Retrieve a stolen voice-recognition software from wealthy programmer Eric Knox (Sam Rockwell). They suspect it may be the owner of a rival company (Tim Curry), but the plot thickens. But what plot? This is all but a clothesline for a series of gravity-defying (or at least every form of science imaginable) stunts (an extremely enjoyable array of fight sequences and a slam-bang helicopter finale). There's humor too, provided by the always reliable Bill Murray as Bosley, Charlie's liaison and the Angels' reliable comic-relief sidekick. Bonus points go to the oddball Crispin Glover as the "Creepy Thin Man" for providing the finest silent villain since Jaws in THE SPY WHO LOVED ME.
CHARLIE'S ANGELS is still bound to create a sort of love-hate relationship amongst its viewers. Some will probably hate it for its total disregard of logic and sense. Others will embrace it for what it is: A good, fluffy entertainment (a guilty pleasure if you will). I'm joining that club!