By Kim Hollis
June 25, 2003
A lot of people will argue that Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle is all about the T&A.
They’d only be partly right.
Yes, our heroines run around in bikinis and skanky outfits, but thanks to a healthy dose of extremely over-the-top action, the sequel to the ‘70s television show adaptation rushes headlong as it provides a kinetic thrill ride, ever mindful that it is simple, silly fluff.
Full Throttle’s story doesn’t really tread any new ground, but do we really expect it to? The Angels are still fighting crime, but they do have a new Bosley. Alex and Natalie are both still seeing the same guys from the first film and The Chad is long gone from Dylan’s mind.
The movie sets up its plot immediately, putting the Angels in a Mongolian bar where they are trying to save a U.S. Marshall who is being held prisoner. They save him, but not before the bad guys make off with a ring that he is wearing. Apparently, two of these rings exist, and when used together they contain codes with information about every single person the government has put into the Witness Protection program. Not coincidentally, the wearer of the second ring is killed shortly afterward, sending our Angels on missions to protect the endangered and also to uncover the culprit behind the nefarious plan.
Naturally, Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz and Lucy Liu return as the Angels, and they’re all a lot of fun. Barrymore’s Dylan has the more serious portion of the story to contend with as she has a crisis of confidence, but Diaz basically is back for more butt shakin’ goofiness while Liu gets all the good lines. Or she would if Bernie Mac wasn’t around to play the new Bosley.
Also back for the ride are Luke Wilson, Matt LeBlanc and Crispin Glover. All three have fairly limited roles but each one has something to bring to the table. Wilson’s aw-shucks demeanor is truly perfect as the doofy hunk who is now cohabitating with Natalie, while Glover is as creepy as ever as The Thin Man (his eyebrows freak me out more than Donnell from MTV’s Road Rules). But it’s LeBlanc who stands out even though we see this same Joey Tribbiani naïveté every single week on Friends. Since this is a movie that’s never trying to be more than popcorn, the slight character fits perfectly.
There’s plenty of new blood on the scene to liven up the party, too. Along with Bernie Mac, Shia LaBeouf shows that his fine performance in the recent sleeper Holes wasn’t an accident. He’s somehow reminiscent of Gene Wilder both in his outstanding sense of comic timing and in his physical appearance, even though he’s only a teenager.
Probably the most ingenious bit of casting is using Demi Moore as the Fallen Angel. Her role is substantially smaller than trailers and commercials might have audiences believe, but she definitely looks the part and is a strong foil for the idealistic trio.
The real fun of Full Throttle, though, is playing Spot the Famous Person. There are an almost ridiculous number of cameos here and almost each one is very deliberately used for a specific effect.
Of course, Charlie’s Angels wouldn’t be complete without tons of action. It doesn’t always work – at times, it’s just too loud, too ridiculous, and too evident that director McG is far too over exuberant. Still, the wild nonsense constantly reminds the viewer that this movie is essentially a spoof in a clever disguise, which is sometimes amusing but occasionally winds up being annoying.
The soundtrack, like the boisterous action sequences, is unrelentingly raucous. The songs are very well-chosen nonetheless, all contributing to the winks and nods at the audience.
Like its predecessor, Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle is a pure adrenaline rush of fun as long as it’s taken with the intended grain of salt. Brash, strident, and in your face, it’s a celebration of the exercise in dottiness known as ‘70s television and a movie that pokes fun at sequels even as it is one itself. In fact, I think I’ll follow it up with a little Maximum Extreme 2.
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