'Charlie's Angels' cheesy but digestible

Posted: Thursday, November 09, 2000

I'd prefer not to have cheesy '70s TV shows made into movies but, since that's not very likely, let's hope all of them are as fun as "Charlie's Angels."

What the movie gets exactly right - and what so many TV-based movies have muffed - is tone. "Charlie's Angels" is in the same ballpark as "Mission: Impossible 2," with lots of slo-mo martial arts and cars racing everywhere. But "Charlie's Angels" has a bolder, fresher look. Whereas "Mission" felt heavy, "Charlie's Angels" is fast, funny and self-mocking but never smart-alecky. It makes fun of the goofball stuff we remember from the series, but it has a lot of affection for the show, too.

In that spirit, each angel gets a slo-mo hair twirl (World Series have gone by faster than Lucy Liu's first one).

And, of course, there's plenty of skin, including a hilarious moment when Cameron Diaz, apparently feeling that her wet suit doesn't expose enough breast, unzips it to her navel - as a friend said, "Who knew Dolce and Gabbana designed scubawear?"

Sure, it's T and A, but it's empowered T and A. "Yeah, we use sex to solve crimes," the angels seem to say. "But so what? Our sexuality is a part of us, and if men are stupid enough to fall for it, why not?"

Drew Barrymore, Liu and Diaz are terrific as Dylan, Alex and Natalie, new angels who are as adept at solving crimes as they are at using hot rollers. Bill Murray, not as much fun as you'd expect, plays their associate, Bosley, whom the women treat the way three 11-year-olds would treat their favorite baby sitter, and, as in the series, John Forsythe is the voice of Charlie, the mysterious millionaire who calls the shots (unlike the series, we get a brief glimpse of Charlie, played by an uncredited hunk).

A lot of credit for the film goes to Barrymore, whose company produced "Charlie's Angels," taking a gamble on first-time filmmaker Joseph McGinty Mitchell, who goes by the name McG. He's a music-video veteran who also directed the camera-swirling-around-a-suspended-dancer ads for Gap khakis, a technique used effectively throughout "Charlie's Angels." "The Matrix" may have gotten there first, but "Angels" has more fun with elaborately choreographed kicking, flipping and whirling, in which the three actresses stretch stretch denim to its limits.

These are not angels of repose. They survive kidnappings, shootouts, helicopter rescues and an explosion that slams them into a parked car. All without displacing a single hair.

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