I wish I could describe how dumb the first five minutes of Charlie’s Angels is, but unfortunately in doing so I would give away an early spoiler. What I can say is that opening the door to a jet airliner will cause dangerous decompression in the cabin and may cause that jet to crash, not to mention would result in sucking out any passenger unlucky enough to be near the door when it opens. It may be cool to extract a wanted felon from an airliner that is still in flight, but you can imagine the carnage this would cause, something you don’t expect the heroes of a movie to cause. Even the first few seconds of this film are dumb. The in flight movie is T.J. Hooker, and immediately two passengers get into a discussion about how bad all these movies based on TV shows are, inevitably drawing attention to the movie for a joke that isn’t even funny. And if the first five minutes are dumb you can imagine what the other 90 minutes are like. It is hard to pick out who to blame for this movie as it has an army of eight producers including the original producers of the series Aaron Spelling and Leonard Goldberg as well as the film’s star Drew Barrymore. Three different writers are credited for the film itself as well as credit to two of the original series writers who’s ideas were used for the film. But the buck should stop with director McG, a music video director known for the Offspring’s Pretty Fly ( For a White Guy ) and Smash Mouth’s All Star. Back when those videos were made the standard was to throw as many images on screen as possible, jumping from set to set with each new lyric and tossing in as many costume changes as the budget will allow. This may work with a four minute music clip, but not with a big screen movie. Whoever is to blame, this is one dumb movie. Not that the source material wasn’t dumb to begin with.
Charlie’s Angels came out in the ’70s just as the woman’s liberation movement reached it’s peak. The opening minute of the show may have seemed like a tribute to woman’s lib. Three women graduate from the Los Angeles Police Academy only to be assigned to mundane duties such as crossing guard and meter maid. That is until they are all hired by Charlie, a mysterious man who only contacts them by phone, to work for his detective agency. This despite the fact that none of the women Charlie hired had any experience as police detectives. It is here where the women’s lib element ends. Charlie hired the women because they were all good looking, and sends them on assignments where they basically go undercover as someones eye candy waiting for suspects to give themselves away as opposed to actual detective work. ( that sort of female detective work would have to wait until Murder She Wrote a decade later. ) The series peaked after it’s first season when it’s breakout star Farrah Fawcett allowed her then husband Lee Majors to talk her into leaving the show to be a stay home wife. Farrah was replaced with Cheryl Ladd, playing her characters sister. Although ratings steadly went up behind the scenes the series began falling apart. Kate Jackson was fired after the third season, her replacement Shelly Hack fired after only one season. By the time Tanya Roberts was added to the cast both Ladd and Jaclyn Smith had forced producers Spelling and Goldberg to dress them in less revealing outfits, leaving Roberts to be the series sole eye candy. Ratings had been plummeting since Jackson’s dismissal and ABC decided the only way to revive the show was to move the location from Los Angeles to Hawaii, filling the gap between the last episode of the series Hawaii Five-0 and first episode of Magnum P.I. The move to the 50th state failed to help with the ratings, and the series was cancelled.
Flash forward 20 years and Hollywood was in the midst of making big screen adaptions of popular shows from the past. To Spelling and Goldberg’s credit there was no attempt to reboot as had been done with so many other television shows. This was due to the realization that none of the original Angels would have still been working at the Townsend Agency after reaching the big 4-0. Since the whole point of hiring an Angel was that they were supposed to be good looking enough for the bad guys not to notice them snooping around their office, it was a certainty that Charlie would have given any one of his angels the pink slip once the first wrinkle set in. And considering that three Angels left the agency in their prime with Smith uninterested to renew her contract had the series been picked up for a sixth season, it was probable that had the series continued on the air for 20 more years that the cast would have turned over several times. All they need do is rehire actor John Forsythe to play the voice on the phone of Charlie and they could have three new Angels ( and new assistants named Bosley ) without a reboot. But similarities to the original series end there. The new crop of Angels act as if they are international spies rather than detectives from an agency. The original series was simple. Someone committed a crime that the police were either unable to solve or refused to believe happened. The victim of the crime ( or relative of the victim in cases of murder ) hired the Angels to bring the culprits to justice. After briefing them on the case Charlie then sent them somewhere undercover where they could snoop around until someone did something incriminating. It is almost as if the screenwriters of the movie version never actually saw the television series and somehow thought it was about female spies. This movie has the Angels infiltrating buildings to steal data from mainframe computers ala Mission Impossible, infiltrating an enemy stronghold and trying to stop a spy satellite ala James Bond. And much like the James Bond movies this film has a memorable bad guy’s henchman played by Crispin Glover. ( I assume some of you will still try to watch it despite my warnings.so I will not mention much more of the plot as to not give away any spoilers. )
But the main problem of this movie is the erratic pacing. The original Charlie’s Angels had one setting per episode. If the Angels were investigating a woman’s prison then the entire episode took place at that prison. If they were investigating a con artist in Las Vegas then the entire episode took place in Vegas. In the movie version the Angels jump from location to location, going undercover as a pit crew at a race track in on scene, then five minutes later undercover as belly dancers, then two minutes after that undercover as an a German oompah band. This is not mentioning the cut aways to their activities off the job and the occasional daydream. It is as if the screenwriters though the audience would get bored if the Angels lingered in the same location and outfits for more than a few minutes, but never considered the villains getting suspicious that the same three girls kept turning up undercover everywhere they looked. This pacing may have worked for McG’s music videos, but in a full length feature film it only succeeds in giving the viewer a headache.
The standout outfit in this movie is not worn by any of the Angels but by co-star Kelly Lynch, who is first seen wearing black latex pants and a black leather jacket at 1 hour 11 minutes, and again at 1 hour 15 minutes, finally removing the jacket at 1 hour 17 minutes to reveal a tight black latex top that gives the entire outfit a semi catsuit feel. The movie cuts to different action sequences and the fight scene featuring Kelly Lynch wearing the latex outfit is seen intermittently for the next few minutes. This is not the only time Kelly wears something interesting in this movie. At 47 minutes she seduces Bosley wearing a black latex dress, which can be seen again at 53 minutes. The Angels do contribute to this movie, most notably Lucy Liu who wears a tight black leather jacket and matching skirt as she pretends to be a dominatrix efficiency expert who gives a company a lecture while the other Angels steal data from a core computer, a theft that involves Cameron Diaz wearing a white Lycra catsuit at 41 minutes. Other outfits worth mentioning include a tight black leather corset top worn by Lucy 10 minutes into the film and a red satin Japanese style mini dress she wears at 15 minutes. Lesser outfits include a black sequin top that Lucy wears at 1 hour 8 minutes, and pair of sequin dresses that Lucy and Drew wear, red and black respectively, at 18 minutes. All three Angels wear blue pit crew outfits with red and white stars and stripes trim that are slightly shiny at 29 minutes. Even better, all three Angels wear wetsuits ( fabric unknown ) at 1 hour 8 minutes which are immediately stripped off once they leave the beach. ( Lucy changes into an outfit that includes semi-leather pants, but it is barely noticeable due to the frantic editing at the end of the film and not really worth seeking. Anyway, you would be too busy looking at Kelly Lynch’s latex outfit to notice. ) NOTE: a sequel called Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle was made. Aside from Lucy Liu wearing a black leather front laced jacket in the first few minutes followed by a quick shot of Cameron Diaz wearing a silver catsuit ten minutes into the movie during the opening credits ( most likely a stunt person or CGI for the long shot ) and the Angels dressed up in Pussycat Dolls style sequin costumes midway through the movie, there is nothing else in the movie worth seeing, and the outfits just mentioned are not worth seeking out. I mention this because the movie poster and DVD box cover shows Cameron Diaz wearing tight black vinyl ( or possibly latex ) pants. She does not wear any such pants in the movie, so be warned.