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IN SHORT: Pick your favorite Angel. Avoid large sodas. Prepare for a flat out blast. [Rated PG-13. 100 minutes]
Let's talk popcorn movies for a bit. Hideously overacted with unbelievable characters, stupid plot devices, incomprehensible stories, dialog that could be enjoyable only if it was midnight and you were ripped out of your mind, the really bad ones are lowest common denominator flicks aimed at teens and feature flavor of the month stars and great teevee commercials which reveal just about everything there is to see in the movie.
But enough about Battlefield Earth. The flip side of the really atrocious and painful to sit through disaster is something like Charlie's Angels, a deliriously frenetic and insanely ridiculous flick that works brilliantly as long as you remember the original Angels fondly or are too young to know 'em as anything but reruns.
And, no, we're not stoned. Or drunk. Or ripped in anyway. Make no mistake about it, this is a small-screen teevee show blown up as a big-screen teevee show. Three Angels, one Bosley and one Charlie; a title sequence that looks like the old show and a lighter than air story which stops making any kind of sense about halfway through. The surest sign that Charlie's Angels is a stop 'em in their tracks hit is the reaction of the target demo (and we always pay attention to the target) -- there was a line at the men's room in a theater with an oversized men's room.
It's something that never gets taught in film school. Guys don't sit through stinkers when their bladders come calling. And the conversations overheard on line all came down to "my favorite Angel was . . ."
Charlie's Angels in the year 2000 aren't all that different from the foundation laid twenty years or so ago. Charles Townshend (John Forsythe) is still the reclusive millionaire who is only heard on a speakerphone. His Angels have traded pistols for kung fu kicks and, as always, there are three: Natalie (Cameron Diaz), a bit of a ditz and too pretty to get a date. Dylan (Drew Barrymore) a love 'em and leave 'em type and Alex (Lucy Liu) an aspiring actor. John Bosley (Bill Murray) runs the office. The client for this story is the President of Knox Technologies, Vivian Wood (Kelly Lynch), sole witness to the kidnapping of her boss, Eric Knox (Sam Rockwell). The one and only suspect is the exec of a competing company, Roger Corwin (Tim Curry) and the motive seems to be theft of voice identification software that can turn any cellular phone into a homing device.
The Angels immediately get cracking on the case by, what else?, dressing up as geisha girls. With a script in which the detectives know almost everything there is to know without any evidence of doing actual detective work, what's left is a cheerful mockery of franchise action flicks like The Matrix, Mission: Impossible and the Bond canon. You'll know 'em when you see 'em and, strangely enough, it is The Matrix effects that don't work in the fight scenes. The rest of the movie is admirably goofy, and funny enough that it doesn't really matter that none of it makes a damned bit of sense.
Yes, the Angels wag their heads and flip their hair in slow motion. No, none of the originals appear in cameo. Rounding out the cast is Crispin Glover playing the evil henchman, with a fetish for hair, called "Thin Creepy Man" and Tom Green, Luke Wilsonand Matt LeBlancas erstwhile boyfriends of our heroes. The boys have little to do. Bill Murray is still playing Bill Murray, regardless of the part he's cast in.
And our favorite angel is Lucy Liu. Her comic timing, sharpened by a couple of years on Ally McBeal, is hysterically funny.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Charlie's Angels, he would have paid...
Oh are we gonna catch heat for that number... Honestly, when news of the project surfaced a year ago, we thought this was the dumbest idea we'd ever heard. Walking in with no expectations is the key, 'cuz this thing would never pass standard critical muster. It is worth every kernel of popcorn you can cram down your gullet.
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