Charlie's Angels (2000)

Rating: ****
Release Date: 11/3/00
Director: McG
Action Director: Vic Armstrong
Fight Choreography: Yuen Cheung Yan
Cast: Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, Lucy Liu, Bill Murray, Kelly Lynch, Crispin Glover, Tim Curry, Sam Rockwell, Matt LeBlanc, Tom Green, Michiko Nishiwaki (stunts)

Uh... WOW!!! I haven't had this much fun at a movie in a LONG time. A real "make you wanna dance in the parking lot on the way back to the car" kind of movie. Going into it I was extremely wary, but as the soundtrack ripped into Mötley Crüe's "Live Wire," I knew it was going to be something extra special. A campy retread of the popular 70's TV show, this has Angel operatives Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, and Lucy Liu playing out a "Mission: Impossible" (1996) meets "The Matrix" (1999) job for a shady client.

But who cares about the story? Let's get onto the action! This is a brilliant piece of pop culture fluff full of honest and hilarious nostalgia from the 70's and 80's, and over-the-top kung fu frenzy from Hong Kong's Yuen Cheung Yan. Cameron Diaz is amazing and she literally owns the film. Her grace and charm are fantastic and she delivers a spectacular physical performance, from her outrageous dancing numbers to her hard hitting action sequences. She's full of conviction with everything she does, and goes at it pretty hard with Kelly Lynch without any padding. Ouch! She can also throw a pretty damn convincing kick. In short, she has made me a true believer. Go and see this film now. Drew Barrymore also came as a surprise, and she delivers the same in-your-face attitude and self-deprecating charm as Ms. Diaz, only with less authority. Lucy Liu's performance on the other hand, falls a little short. She's stuck with a lot of bad dialog, and her delivery is flat and uninspired. She's still fun to watch, though. (presumably, this was the role that was initially offered to Michelle Yeoh) Bill Murray as Bosley was a pleasant surprise, as he is actually funny and not totally annoying.

Originally, I had heard that Ching Siu Tung ("A Chinese Ghost Story" (1987), "The Heroic Trio" (1993) ) was doing the martial arts direction, but he was apparently replaced with Yuen Woo Ping's brother, Yuen Cheung Yan (a familiar face from a multitude of Hong Kong kung fu films). The choreography is graceful and kinetic, with lots of crazy high flying wire stunts. The camerawork and editing are a bit unfriendly, but the girls do a great job with the material. Very impressive stuff. Another thing that makes the film so enjoyable is the soundtrack, which includes Juice Newton, Wham!, Leo Sayer, The Vapors, and even Akira Ifukube's theme music from Toho's "Godzilla" franchise! The wacky music selections perfectly complement the outrageous action in the movie and deliver a warm feeling of nostalgia. Unfortunately, there's also a handful of 90's tunes in the film that seem woefully inappropriate and effectively detract from the action at hand. Oh well, you can't have everything. I also give a lot of credit to the director and all of the actresses for having the courage and audacity to create a film so gratuitously and blatantly sexist in this day and age of hyper-sensitivity, political correctness, and moral sterility. I would have considered it impossible to market this kind of playful camp entertainment anymore - maybe there's hope for Hollywood afterall (then again, maybe not). There is no shortage of cleavage and sexual posturing in this film as the girls constantly demean and make fun of themselves for the camera and have a totally great time doing it. The whole tongue-in-cheek attitude of the film is "hey, it's okay to be sexy and have fun," and it's about time someone put the fun back into being sexy. A thoroughly delightful action fantasy romp that doesn't even make you feel guilty about enjoying it.