Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle
Grade: C
Year: 2003
Director: McG
Writer: Ivan Goff
Genre: Action
Rated: PG-13
By Scott Spicciati

I have not seen the first “Charlie’s Angles” (2000), and seeing the sequel did not inspire me to hit up Blockbuster on the way home for more Angels fun. This is because if it’s anything like the sequel, I would be in no condition to see “T3” or the next major-action flick this week.

If you’re like me and have not seen the original, don’t worry about being lost. Everything is explained again, from the past to present of every Angel. They’re all back: Natalie (Cameron Diaz), Dylan (Drew Barrymore) and Alex (Lucy Liu). They continue to work for unseen Charlie (voiced by John Forsythe, who dates back to the original TV series), and they’re ready for their next mission.

To its credit, the film did make ponder a few things as well as form a few conclusions:

1. What was the total amount of screen time given to Diaz, Barrymore and Liu? Nearly the entire film is made up of one big explosion after another. The special effects are packed in this two hour film, but the actors doing them aren’t the real stars. At least director McG had the decency to list the stunt-men first in the credits, well, after Diaz, Barrymore and Liu. I wish I had stayed around to record the names because they deserve more credit that the Angels we’re all familiar with. But once the film ended, I was in no mood to stick around and listen to another track from Pink’s latest album. Her cameo in the film makes Madonna’s “Die Another Day” role Oscarworthy.

Sure, the actresses did a few of their own stunts, we can tell because the camera shows their face, but it’s nothing to ‘wow’ over. Early on in the film, we see Cameron Diaz’s character ride a mechanical bull to distract the patrons away from her co-angels’ mission. It is definitely Diaz riding the bull, but the speed of the thing is slower than the mechanical horse you always see outside of your local Wal-Mart.

2. Had an R-rated certificate not affect the box-office sales, how much more skin would the film display? For PG-13, “Full Throttle” goes full throttle, showing us every angle and texture allowed by the MPAA. Not that I didn’t enjoy the slow-motion, multi-angle shots of three good looking women in skimpy bathing suits, I just felt manipulated for putting up with it, as if the sex-factor was the only thing keeping this series alive. And that may very well be true. In one scene, the girls appear dead as their lifeless bodies lay on the ground after an encounter with a bad guy. But they finally get up, and as they walk out, the automatic sprinkler system commences, making sure our three heroes don’t exit the scene before their tank tops get soaked and their bodies drenched.

3. Co-stars and side characters play a more important role in the film than what’s intended of them. It allows us a break from all of the booty shaking and explosions that cause the Angels to dive in slow-motion as their booties shake. In this case, it’s Bernie Mac as Bosley, the brother of Bill Murray’s Bosley from the last film. He has no real job in this movie other than to provide comic relief, and we appreciate his occasional one-liners, at least more so than those from the Angels. Refer to Barrymore’s, “for once, I’d like to leave a bar walking out.” This is said after she and the other two Angels jump out of the window in slow-motion after a fight.

As for the plot, oh the plot. It hurts so much thinking about it I don’t even want to begin rationalizing the plausibility of one of the lead villains being able to walk through fire and then falling off a building’s edge only to return in a later scene.

From what I remember after trying to block it out, the Angels are after two separate rings, that once combined release the encrypted information of every name on some sort of Protection Agency roster that probably means world domination or something. Eventually, about 3/4 of the way through, we finally catch up with the head villain, Madison Lee (Demi Moore). I guess we are supposed to be shocked like the Angels were when we finally see her, but us action fans already know whenever a villain is in shadow, it is usually the least likely character, and usually a female once revealed. Madison is a fallen Angel who “no longer takes orders from a box,” and for some reason wants to kill them all.

Even Moore (still beautiful at 40) is made to look sexy, and of course that diminishes her threatening appeal she really never had in the first place. But she is a name, one of the many who show up in this made-for-summer sequel. Disney’s Shia LaBeouf is somehow thrown in as Bosley’s sidekick in a quite forgettable role. He’s one of those actors who can’t say no to a film; after the acclaimed “Holes” it was the dud, “Dumb and Dumberer” and now this. What’s next for little Shia? Luke Wilson is the lucky boyfriend of Natalie, while Crispin Glover is back as The Thin Man, or more appropriately, The Guy With a Hair Fetish.

I could go on criticizing the film nobody expected to be great, but the girls had fun making this movie; either that or director McG added in all the booty-taps and chest bumping the girls seem to do in every scene whenever they meet each other. And that’s the thing, they’re so enthusiastic, even after falling hundreds of feet off a bridge then catching a hold of a jet plane before smashing into the ground. These girls don’t sleep, but they sure wear a lot of skimpy outfits, comparable to the number of items worn by Queen Amidala from “Star Wars: Episode I.”

For what it’s worth, I enjoyed some of the humor generously dished out to us. The long-running joke over Alex’s secret career worked well for me. Her dad (John Cleese) thinks she is a healthcare worker for the local hospital, until her ex-boyfriend ( NBC Friend’s Matt LeBlanc) inadvertently reveals the truth, but in an indirect way. Her father now believes she and the other Angels are prostitutes, but as the good modern-times father that he is, he accepts her daughter’s lifestyle. When he tells Alex he knows, she believes he’s talking about her being an Angel, so she thinks nothing of it when she tells him, “yeah, we just did nine sailors.. now I need to take a shower because who knows what I’m covered in!” This is later followed by, “we triple-teamed her until she finally got on her back.”

I also enjoyed the joke regarding Dylan, who had to change her name after joining the Witness Protection Program. It used to be Helen Zass; say it quickly and you’ll get the joke. The other two Angels then follow up by teasing her with every pun in the book. How asinine, right?

There is little to like about “Full Throttle,” and a lot more to hate. I don’t think I’ll be interested in a Part 3 unless it is dubbed something like “Charlie’s Angels: Last Ride,” where the Angels don’t quite make it out of the explosion this time.

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