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Barrymore, Diaz, and Liu Kick Butt in Charlie's Angels

Sep 2, 2010
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Good cast.

Cons:Weak plot.  Not that believable.  Murray underused.

The Bottom Line: Charlie's Angels has issues with the plot and believability, though the movie is sort of entertaining.

I watched the television show Charlie's Angels during the last year or so it was originally on and I've seen it at different times over the years when I've found the reruns on.  The show had some wild things happening at times, but it was entertaining.  In 2000 a live action version, also called Charlie's Angels, was released.  I just saw that one again for the first time in a few years.

Three young woman work as investigators for a mysterious millionaire named Charlie with some help from Bosley, Charlie's assistant.  Charlie calls the women Angels.  Natalie, Dylan, and Alex have very different backgrounds and deal with things differently, but they manage to work together fairly well.  For their new case, the Angels are hired to find Eric Knox, the creator of a high tech voice recognition software that has been kidnapped.  Knox's partner Vivian Wood meets with the Angels and Bosley and shares a suspicion that Roger Corwin is behind the crime.  Corwin has a communications satellite company called Redstar.  The Angels find Knox fairly quickly, but it soon becomes clear to them that more is going on when Bosley is kidnapped and they are almost killed.

Charlie's Angels is based on the television show of the same name that aired from 1976 to 1981.  The basic idea of three women working as investigators for an unseen, mysterious man named Charlie is taken from the series.  This group of Angels uses martial arts fighting against enemies and never use guns.  Even though the set up is basically the same for the movie, there seems to be something missing and it doesn't work as well as the original series.  I think part of it is that the movie goes way overboard with some things, with very little being realistic.  From what I remember of the show, and it has been a while since I last saw any episodes, things seemed more realistic in it.  The Angels from the television show aren't mentioned, though it does seem like the movie is intended to be taking place after the show.

When Charlie's Angels begins, it isn't really clear what is going on at first.  After a few minutes it comes out that they are finishing up a case.  A little bit of the personal lives of each woman is shown and then they are working on the Knox case.  Things move at a very fast pace, and there is very little time to develop the characters or even the plot.  Even with an attempt to make things more complicated, the plot still ends up being fairly simple.  Most of what happens is predictable with only one or two small surprises that turn up.  The plot ends up being rather weak overall, and that is disappointing.  The potential was there for a more entertaining movie with a stronger plot.

It is clear from very early in the movie that Charlie's Angels gives more attention to action than developing the characters or plot.  The Angels end up in several rather extreme situations that they always manage to get out of without getting hurt.  One of them even barely escapes being shot and then survives a rather long fall.  The action does help to keep things sort of interesting, though it is so unrealistic and over the top that it stops being interesting after a certain point.  There are all sorts of fights and even a few explosions.  The action scenes are done well enough.  I just think they received too much attention at the expense of the plot and character development.  The original television show had some action in the episodes, but I don't remember it being so over the top.

With the original show, there was some attention about the fact that the women playing the Angels were attractive and tended to wear low cut or skimpy outfits in the episodes.  The sex appeal of the actresses was definitely played up.  The same thing is done for the movie version.  The women do wear some tight or low cut outfits at different times.  In some scenes, slow motion is used when they are taking off helmets or hats and shaking their hair.  That just looks stupid to me.  The Angels do show off some skin, but there isn't any nudity in the movie.

The Angels each end up in a relationship during Charlie's Angels.  Alex is already dating Jason, an actor, when the movie begins.  She hasn't told him what her job really is.  Dylan spends the night with Chad on his boat early in the movie before going on to have sex with someone else a little later in the movie.  She didn't seem to be serious about either of them.  Natalie isn't dating anyone and then she meets Pete.  She really likes him and struggles to try to start a new relationship while working on the case.  The women are shown with the men they are involved with in various scenes.  There really isn't any romance added by the relationship things shown.  It is clear that a few of the couples have sex, though there aren't any sex scenes.  The movie is rated PG-13, so it really isn't child friendly.

The Angels are featured the most in Charlie's Angels, though they really aren't that developed.  Natalie is kind of a ditz and she seems to enjoy dancing around in her underwear - which look like boy's briefs with Spider-Man on them.  She does try to have a positive outlook about some things.  She does seem nice enough.  Cameron Diaz is fine, but nothing special in the part.  Dylan is a bit more tough at times, probably because she has the roughest past.  Drew Barrymore is fine in the part.  Alex comes from a more privileged background.  Nothing really stands out about her to me other than that she has a boyfriend when the movie begins.  Lucy Liu is all right in the part.

Tom Green turns up in a few short scenes as Chad, a really weird guy that Dylan has hooked up with at least once.  The character is just sort of a random idiot who just happens to be able to help the Angels at one point.  I think Green and Barrymore were dating when the movie was filmed.  Jason is an actor who is dating Alex.  He turns up in a few scenes and Matt LeBlanc doesn't have a lot to do with the part.  Pete is a nice guy who Natalie meets by chance.  He has no idea what is going on, but he remains interested in her.  Luke Wilson doesn't get much to do either.

Charlie is only heard talking, usually over a speaker phone.  That is exactly how the character was on the television show as well.  John Forsythe returns to provide the voice for the character again.  Bosley works for Charlie as well.  Bosley ends up helping the Angels with their investigation in different ways.  He bumbles a bit, but he is likable.  Bill Murray does all right, though there isn't much for him to work with.  It would have been nice if he had been around more and had more to do.

Eric Knox is a software designer who has developed a high tech voice recognition software.  The Angels are hired to find him after he is kidnapped.  He is a rather flat character, though a few more things do start to come out about him as things progress.  Sam Rockwell does fine with the part.  Tim Curry is in a few short scenes as Roger Corwin, a man suspected of being behind the kidnaping of Eric.  Vivian works with Eric and she is the one who meets with the Angels.  I didn't recognize Kelly Lynch in the part because of her different hair color.  Crispin Glover is in a few scenes as a creepy looking guy who fights with the Angels.  He is only identified as Thin Man in the credits.
Main Cast
Drew Barrymore - Dylan
Cameron Diaz - Natalie
John Forsythe - Voice of Charlie
Crispin Glover - Thin Man
Tom Green - Chad
Matt LeBlanc - Jason
Lucy Liu - Alex
Kelly Lynch - Vivian
Bill Murray - Bosley
Sam Rockwell - Eric Knox
Luke Wilson - Pete

McG - Director

I think I first rented Charlie's Angels on DVD not long after it came out.  I know there were extras on the DVD, but I can't remember what they were now.  Bloopers play during the end credits, and I think there was an option to play them from the special features menu too.  I have seen bits of the movie on different television channels.  I saw it on TBS when I decided to watch it this time.  This was the first time I had watched the entire movie in a long time.   

Charlie's Angels has problems with the plot and characters, but it manages to be mostly entertaining.  It isn't a favorite movie, though I don't mind watching it when I find it on.  It works as a mindless fun movie overall.  Fans of the cast may find the movie more enjoyable.

Bill Murray Movie Reviews
Garfield ~ Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties ~ Get Smart ~ Ghostbusters ~ Ghostbusters 2 ~ Quick Change ~ Scrooged ~ Stripes ~

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