Cyberlizard goes to the movies

Charlie's Angels (2000)

Starring Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, Lucy Liu, Bill Murray

Part of the current trend for rehashing old TV shows into movies with both a contemporary feel and at the same time a "retro" look to remind us of which era they came from, Charlie's Angels hit UK screens this November. I confess I was never a great fan of the series but my wife was, so we went to check it out.

The plot

The basic idea of Charlie's Angels is simple: three individual but talented young women (Diaz, Barrymore and Liu) work for the Charles Townsend detective agency run by eponymous and anonymous millionaire, with Bosley (Bill Murray) as the good-natured and rather hapless sidekick and go-between. In the film, the plot involves a kidnapped software tycoon (Sam Rockwell) and some voice recognition software that could be highly dangerous if it falls into the wrong hands. Actually the plot itself is better than it sounds as there were a few twists in it that could have made a half-decent thriller.

The film

To be honest there's a fine line between playing a thing for laughs and just playing complete rubbish, and my own (maybe jaundiced view) is that Charlie's Angels crosses that line. Firstly, the fundamental idea behind the film - three talented and highly attractive young women working for an avuncular father figure - seems a bit quaint, if not politically incorrect, for the new millennium, and somewhat at odds with the "girl power" image that the trio try to project. Secondly, while it is a film about three women, the men come across as superfluous, psycho or rather pathetic - the James Bond sexism problem in reverse. Bill Murray in particular made me feel mildly concerned that he might be trashing the tail end of a good movie career with this role, in which I didn't find him that funny. Thirdly, much of the film seemed a trial of style over substance: a pumping soundtrack accompanying slickly choregraphed martial arts sequences that in a few places seemed more like a pop video than a film. Fourthly, the film is very eclectic, drawing in a lot of stuff that you may have seen in other movies or TV programmes: the fight scenes from Xena, Warrior Princess, the slowed-down bullet effect from Matrix (the similarity between some parts of both films is perhaps unsurprising given that the same team did the fight sequences). Finally, the women also seem to be baring a lot of flesh in what is supposed to be a family-friendly, certificate 12 film.

Perhaps I'm being a bit curmudgeonly. I'm not faulting the acting talents of those involved, and I know we're not supposed to be taking the film seriously. A lot of people in the cinema seemed to have enjoyed it, or at least laughed in the right places. I was debating the merits or otherwise of Charlie's Angels in the gents afterwards with a friend who enjoyed it, and a chap to my left found a compromise formula. "It was," he suggested, ".... watchable".

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