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Some people think that film has stagnated and there’s no innovation like there was in the good old days when Scorcese, Spielberg and Lucas first hit the scene. With directors like Paul Thomas Anderson, Sam Mendes and David Fincher on the rise, that point of view sounds more and more like it’s coming from people who are out of touch. However, all of the television show remake movies that are out there don’t make a strong case for the modern film. Everyone loves the Brady Bunch. No problem there. But with movies like the Avengers, George of the Jungle and Dudley Do Right, it’s clear that there’s something missing. So, Charlie’s Angels isn’t that big a shock. Fortunately, it takes the cue from Mission Impossible, building on a set of characters with a more modern plot.

Just in case you don’t know the premise of the show that made Farrah Fawcett poster girl of the 70’s, Charlie’s Angels is about three brilliant women who are hired by Charlie, a man they’ve never seen, to help out people in distress. Ideally it’s like having Bond and the Bond girl in one – and there’s three of them. The word subtle doesn’t seem to be in Aaron Spelling’s vocabulary. Dylan Sanders (Drew Barrymore) opens the film coming out of the Chad’s (played by husband Tom Greene) boat. Alex Munday (Lucy Lui) is a homemaker girlfriend to actor Jason (Matt LeBlanc). Matt LeBlanc not free from the Friends family big screen curse did the right thing by taking a small role in this movie. Cameron Diaz is innocent, awkward and boy crazy as Natalie Cook. All three angels leave their personalities behind when it’s time for business, though. They head to their lush angel lair, provided by the mysterious Charlie, to meet with Boswell (Bill Murray) for their next assignment. This case naturally concerns a young computer mogul, Eric Knox (Sam Rockwell) and his partner (Kelly Lynch). The young computer genius is kidnapped and held for ransom. The angels encounter the Thin Man (Crispin Glover – who should have a part in every movie) on their hunt for Eric Knox. A few twists and turns later, the angels uncover a whole new dimension to the case and find themselves rescuing the kidnapped Boswell.

There was a buzz around this movie that it would be empowering for little girls and show strong women as the leads in a big budget action flick. This movie spends most of its time showing how brilliant women can dress up as belly dancers or in lederhosen in order to stupefy chauvinistic men and gain information from them. This movie makes Ginger Spice look like Joan Baez.

However, analyzing the feminist ramifications of Charlie’s Angels should give anyone pause. So, I took a deep breath, vowed to switch to decaf, and realized that I was taking this movie much too seriously. Perhaps I switched to the analysis of this movie because it was a better alternative to the other option, that this movie merely has mass appeal and it’s all just explosions and bad jokes.

There are certain sacrifices made in a movie that is supposed to have mass appeal. Even so, there are still some things that shouldn’t be overlooked. The action sequences were great. However, there is a difference between being as exciting as The Matrix and ripping off The Matrix. The Matrix was very distinctive and very popular. That shouldn’t give the green light to directors to copy it. In addition to all of their disguises to uncover information, you need only look to Natalie’s Soul Train dance sequence to see how campy this movie is. The jokes degenerate into double entendre unworthy of most sitcoms. “Feel free to stick things in my slot.” Sure thing.

One also wonders what the hell was Bill Murray doing in Charlie’s Angels? For every Operation Dumbo Drop or The Man Who Knew Too Little, he’ll do a Hamlet or a Rushmore. There’s merit in keeping your audience guessing with the film roles you choose but it’s still disappointing.

This film also isn’t safe from Drew Barrymore’s real life love interests. Luke Wilson (Drew’s ex boyfriend), whose career is still baffling, plays Natalie’s love interest. Tom Greene also adds his distinctive humor to the movie.

It was playful and I could see how other people could like it. I didn’t. But who cares? It’s going to rake in the dough. That’s just the way the modern movie is. I’m just waiting for A-Team the movie. That’s going to kick ass.

 

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