Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle
Directed by McG
Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle is like a stereotypical bimbo: it's noisy and shallow. If this movie had an original thought, it would die of loneliness. But, like most bimbos, it's kinda fun to hang out with for about 90 minutes.
Fellowship of the Angels
Picking up shortly after the Angels' first cinematic escapade, the story revolves around a couple of stolen rings encoded with top secret information regarding people in the witness protection program. Heaven forbid those rings should fall into the wrong hands via the black market!
Stepping in to save the day are those sinfully playful Angels, Natalie (Cameron Diaz, Gangs of New York), Dylan (Drew Barrymore, Never Been Kissed), and Alex (Lucy Liu, Shanghai Noon). Also back are, obviously, Charlie (John Forsythe, still out of sight after all these years) and Bosley. Make that Jimmy Bosley (Bernie Mac, Booty Call) replacing John Bosley (Bill Murray in the first movie) in what constitutes the film's funniest running gag.
Also returning from the first film is the creepy Thin Man (Crispin Glover, Willard). He was weird in the first movie and this time he comes completely unglued with a bizarre back story that tries to explain his hair fetish.
Featuring some sloppy filmmaking, both in its over-the-top special effects and its madly careening storyline, this new edition also suffers from a been-there-done-that feeling since in many ways its story is nothing more than a rehash of the film that preceded it.
Happily, the characters do progress personally and build on their experiences from the first movie. For example, Natalie has now moved in with the cute boy she met in the first film. But the dynamic trio's adventures are basically a retread of what's been done before. Instead of an opening sequence involving an airplane, it's a helicopter this time. Instead of drag racing, it's an outlandish motocross sequence. And so on and so on.
New to the proceedings is fallen Angel Madison Lee (Demi Moore, G.I. Jane). Moore is buff, tough, and ready-for-Baywatch following the (reportedly) four plastic surgeries she underwent in order to get in shape for the role. She's got just about the best body money can buy, stopping short of bionics.
Given the importance her character plays in the storyline, it's unfortunate the writers (John August, born and raised in Boulder, who also wrote the first movie, accompanied this time by Cormac Wibberley and Marianne Wibberley who are guilty of collaborating on I Spy) didn't spend as much time and money on her character as Moore did on her body.
Following a very shaky start in Northern Mongolia involving a drinking contest and a mechanical yak, the movie goes on to pilfer from many of the icons of film and television from the past 20 years. In-between spotting cameo appearances, you can watch for cultural references, from Flashdance to The Terminator, from Baywatch to The Bernie Mac Show. It's part surf flick, part TV crime drama, part TV sitcom, and several parts nostalgia trip. Even with all those distractions, the writers can't hide their weak story.
Send Me an Angel
What keeps the film afloat is that it knows it's airheaded entertainment and the characters are happy in their outlandish little world.
Also helping out is Mac's fish-out-of-water take on the Bosley character, along with a back story on the Bosleys that comes out of left field. It almost leaves room for a whole new TV sitcom. Imagine it. The Bosleys on ABC. Bill Murray and Bernie Mac in a hilarious family sitcom situated in South Central L.A.
Oddly enough, Full Throttle is at its best during its more quiet moments of what might pass as character development. Those scenes, one in particular involving a very nifty cameo appearance, help ground the characters, if only a little bit. But, in a movie as out of control and off the wall as Full Throttle, every little bit counts.
Ultimately, though, when the dust settles and the Charlie's Angels film series becomes a part of Hollywood lore, people will repeatedly ask, "Was that the one with Bill Murray or Bernie Mac?"
• Originally published at MovieHabit.com.