Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle (2003)

Rating: **
Release Date: 6/27/03
Director: McG
Fight Choreography: Yuen Cheung Yan
Cast: Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, Lucy Liu, Demi Moore, Bernie Mac, Crispin Glover, Matt LeBlanc, Robert Patrick, Luke Wilson, John Cleese, cameos by Yuen Cheung Yan, Mary Kate Olsen, Ashley Olson, Bruce Willis, Carrie Fisher, Jaclyn Smith

Fun, but ultimately disappointing and unsatisfying. Definitely a guilty pleasure for those of us who grew up in the 80's listening to Loverboy and Mötley Crüe. As with many sequels, this one is bigger, louder, faster, sillier, and more uneven than the original. It's also so unsure of itself that it goes completely over the top to try and please, which just leaves a bad taste of insincerity in my mouth. It tries to be funny instead of just being fun, and falls flat in the attempt. This time around, the Angels are assigned to track down a pair of stolen FBI decoder rings, which they do fairly quickly. But then things get ugly as ex-Angel Madison Lee (stunning Demi Moore) goes on the warpath, Dylan's psycho ex-boyfriend wants the Angels dead, and the Thin Man (Crispin Glover) shows up for some more creepy action. With the power of friendship, teamwork, and special effects, the "good" angels finally defeat the "bad" angel.

Firstly, and most importantly, the fight scenes are very disappointing. They aren't nearly as intricately choreographed and filmed as they were in "Charlie's Angels" (2000), and they don't have any hint of Yuen Cheung Yan's genius in them. They're also shot too tight and edited too quickly, making them hard to follow and extremely uninteresting (which is typical for a Hollywood production). Secondly, the non- martial arts action scenes push the envelope into absurdity a little too far for my tastes, and focus more on digital animation and editing techniques than actual physical skill, which ultimately makes them bland and uninteresting. Shoe continuity is pretty good in the action scenes, and I only noticed one blatant incongruity with Cameron Diaz. Lastly, the writing and humor is stale and weak, even lifting jokes from the first film to embarrassing effect (which now spoils my enjoyment of the original film - grrr). The sex and sleaze factor is also boosted considerably, and instead of being a playful romp, this film only succeeds in being tasteless.

On the plus side though, the film is full of wonderful vignettes put to classically cheezy 70's and 80's music, and the girls are lovely and look like they're having a good time. (but WAY too much red lipstick all around, which is simply unattractive) The tone is a bit different this time around, and instead of being a fond homage to those fun and simpler times, this film seems to be blatantly making fun of them. Demi Moore practically steals the show with her strong and seductively wicked performance. Bernie Mac as Bosley does a much better job than I expected, and he gets the majority of the laughs. John Cleese (as Alex's father), Luke Wilson, and Matt LeBlanc are pretty much completely unnecessary side characters, and Crispin Glover's return as the Thin Man is completely ludicrous (again, spoiling his wonderful performance in the original). The various cameos are also quite enjoyable, with former Angel Kelly Garrett (lovely Jaclyn Smith) showing up in a vision, as well as the Olsen Twins being potential Angel recruits (as brilliant as it is horrific). Sadly, only an hour after seeing the film, I can't think of anything that particularly stands out in my mind. Ultimately, the film is a collection of music videos, mini-skits, bad jokes, and colorful imagery that has trouble being a cohesive whole.