Blazing "Angels"

Movie: Charlie's Angels

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Our Rating: 4.00

As directed by McG (best known for his Korn videos), "Charlie's Angels" is an overproduced, virtually plotless, junk-pop gumbo, cut-and-pasted willy-nilly by five writers (with a reported assist by co-producer/star Drew Barrymore).

These might seem like negatives. But this cheerily brain-dead reanimation of the ding-dong '70s TV show does something most Hollywood movies this year seem bound and determined to avoid doing: It will do anything, and we mean anything, to be fun. Incredibly, it succeeds. The titular crime-fighting unit is composed of Natalie (Cameron Diaz, redefining "ditz" for a new generation), Dylan (Barrymore) and the "smart" angel, Alex (Lucy Liu). As in the TV show, Charlie, an anonymous millionaire, is performed by John Forsythe's voice; Bill Murray essays the role of Charlie's go-between, Bosley.

Plotwise, the movie has something to do with technology kingpin Roger Corwin (Tim Curry) stealing some way-complicated software from programmer Knox (Sam Rockwell in a shag haircut) and his partner Vivian (Kelly Lynch in tight clothing). The Angels are called in to set things right. Actually, this is only the setup for the film's real plot, which doesn't appear until about an hour in.

But such things are immaterial in the fecklessly peppy world of this movie: In between absurd/exciting action set pieces directed by McG as though channeling a pre-"Mission Impossible 2" John Woo, we get to see Diaz and Barrymore commandeer a nefarious mainframe in drag; Liu, in full dominatrix fettle, imparting vicious management advice to a gaggle of fawning cube-dweller geeks; Diaz kung fu cat-fighting Lynch while talking on her cell phone; and Murray and Curry battling while dressed in latex sumo-wrestler suits (!). Meanwhile, every Hong Kong-action/"Matrix" trick in the book is copped with carefree abandon as our heroines take on the notoriously strange Crispin Glover, playing a nameless Bad Guy who sniffs locks of Angel hair before doing terrible things.

As all of the above suggests, "Charlie's Angels" is an utterly ridiculous movie, but one that, through sheer pluck, manages to make ridiculousness a redeeming quality. With the exception of Murray -- who occasionally seems to be wondering what the hell happened to his career -- everyone present visibly relishes the opportunity to throw any notions of quality to the wind and instead wallow in the glossy confines of the film's jaw-dropping dorkiness. The inexplicable result is the most flat-out entertaining big-budget movie of the year.

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