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'Charlie's Angels'

Farrah who? Drew, Cameron and Lucy are a knockout as the new 'Charlie's Angels'

Friday, November 03, 2000

By Barry Paris, Post-Gazette Movie Critic

During its TV heyday in the '70s, I never watched a single episode of "Charlie's Angels." It must have run the same weekday night as my prayer group. A quarter-century later, I realize what a fool I was not to have rearranged my schedule. If the TV series was anything like the movie, it would've changed my life.

'Charlie's Angels'

RATING: PG-13 for language and violence

STARRING: Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, Lucy Liu, Bill Murray, Sam Rockwell, Tim Curry.



3 stars


Since the original "Angels" are now in heaven or retirement homes, replacements had to be recruited: Cameron Diaz (Natalie), Drew Barrymore (Dylan) and Lucy Liu (Alex). They are, as you surely know, a beautiful, brilliant trio of partially clad private investigators working for a latter-day Lone Ranger whom we never see. Who cares what he looks like, anyway?

Our girls -- dragged out of their various boyfriends' beds -- have been assigned by Charlie's faithful assistant (Bill Murray) to find a kidnapped computer genius (Sam Rockwell). His new top-secret voice-identification security software has fallen into the wrong hands, presumably the villainous hands of telecommunications czar Tim Curry.

No slow buildups here. The action is not long in coming in a spectacular opening sequence involving an airplane terrorist bomber, mid-flight skydive sans parachute, and breathtaking, perfectly timed helicopter rescue -- none of which, thank God, musses up the girls' hair.

All this before the credits, which are equally spectacular, as are all the other visual and high-tech production values of the film. Since it's the '00s instead of the '70s, our heroines have not only sex and weapons to work with but a whole new set of martial-arts skills evidently acquired through a Hong Kong correspondence course, the channeling of the Lee and Chan families, plus flying instructions from Peter Pan.

And wait 'til you see the master computer and the place where they keep it. Bill Gates, even with his $1.4 trillion tax cut from George W. Bush, will be eating his heart out.

The director is McG. That's all we know. McGovern? McGough? Neither the '72 presidential candidate nor the Post-Gazette editorial page editor seem to want to claim him, so his surname is left to the realm of mystery. All we know of him is that he graduated from UC-Irvine with a bachelor of arts degree in psychology and is a celebrated maker of TV commercials (Gap, Coca-Cola, Major League Baseball) and of 50 music videos (Barenaked Ladies, Sugar Ray, Smash Mouth).

Smash Mouth?

Right. Smash Mouth.

Anyway, "Charlie's Angels" is his feature-film directorial debut and a stunning one, with all the stylized elements of Agent 007. It is, in fact, a feminine trinity of a James Bond film -- a campy parody of a parody, full of naughty double-entendre dialogue ("I could use someone like you on my staff").

It's a hoot, enjoyable from start to finish, enough to ruin my 30-year reputation for cinematic severity. I'd call it -- perhaps stopping just short of "Citizen Kane" -- a landmark of silly, stylish fun.

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