When Aaron Spelling first brought Charlie’s Angels to television audiences in 1976, the show’s premise was novel: three beautiful women who could both bring home the bacon and kick the living bejesus out of bad guys with the pan. The butt kicking bombshell prototypes ended up being more paradoxical than subversive, however, since the ”empowered” ladies consistently flaunted their sizzlin’ bods and feminine wiles to snare the crooks.
Not a whole lot has changed for the Angels on the big screen, though the trio is a tad tougher and rougher. There’s lusty tomboy Dylan (Drew Barrymore), moneyed ice queen Alex (Lucy Liu), and spacey savant Natalie (Cameron Diaz). Their mission, meanwhile, is way more complex than anything Farrah ever faced: Brilliant programmer Eric Knox (Sam Rockwell) is kidnapped, apparently by an evil gazillionaire (Tim Curry) who wants to steal Knox’s voice recognition software for nefarious global domination purposes, or something.
But like their ’70s counterparts, the modern Angels have severe (sugar) daddy issues that go far beyond their near religious devotion to anonymous millionaire Charles Townsend. Alex struggles to remain nonthreatening to her macho boyfriend (Matt LeBlanc) by cooking him pot roast and telling him she’s a bikini waxer. Natalie mesmerizes a cute bartender (the immensely likable Luke Wilson) by giving a shampoo commercial toss of her blond locks, then later feebly mumbles, ”Thanks for giving me a chance.” (His — and our — response: ”Are you kidding?”) And despite her street smart facade, poor Dylan falls hard for Knox’s faux aw shucks charm, and when she discovers he’s actually the villain (relax, this movie is SO not about the plot points), a look of genuine hurt crosses her face before it settles into a mask of ”woman scorned” fury.
Oh, who am I kidding? Quasifeminist pontificating has no business coming within 200 miles of this movie. ”Charlie’s Angels” wisely insists on being nothing more than a showcase for pretty women in sexy clothing flipping through intricately choreographed, incredibly entertaining fight sequences. The three on one back alley slugfest between the Angels and creepy henchman Crispin Glover — set, rather cheekily, to Prodigy’s ”Smack My Bitch Up” — packs more fun into its two plus minutes than most action flicks do into their entirety.
And Diaz, Barrymore, and Liu bring an infectious level of jubilance to all their scenes, whether they’re buying burgers at the drive thru or going undercover as geishas in a Japanese massage parlor. They revel in Angels’ pure stylistic silliness, and in that, the actresses do their small screen sisters proud.