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With: Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, Lucy Liu, Bernie Mac, Crispin Glover, Justin Theroux, Robert Patrick, Demi Moore, Shia LaBeouf, Matt LeBlanc, Luke Wilson, John Cleese, Eve, Pink, Carrie Fisher, John Forsythe (voice)
Written by: John August, Cormac Wibberley, Marianne Wibberley
Directed by: McG
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for action violence, sensuality and language/innuendo
Running Time: 107
Date: 06/18/2003
IMDB

Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle (2003)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Bombardin' 'Angels'

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The new sequel Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle is more of the same -- and that's a good thing -- except bigger, faster and louder. Especially louder.

Music video director McG, who also helmed the original 2000 film, takes the silliest of plots and washes it in an explosive collage of music, sound, cameos, references, jokes, sex and probably even the kitchen sink, if one looks close enough.

The music alone would fill a three-CD soundtrack and covers just about every stylistic avenue, including the Beach Boys, Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg, Rage Against the Machine, MC Hammer, Motley Crue, David Bowie, Bernard Herrmann, The Who, etc. It's a radio station programmer's nightmare: too many musical styles, not enough information as to what the demographic is. But for a smart audience, it's bliss.

Savvy viewers will also catch sly references to such films as The Blues Brothers, Risky Business and Flashdance, as well as a dozen others that I probably missed.

In addition, McG throws a cameo at us every few minutes, some so fast or so well disguised that you may wonder what the rest of the audience is laughing at. I caught Pink, Eve and Bruce Willis, but missed Carrie Fisher and Eric Bogosian (the latter dying with a pork rind in his mouth).

But with this enormous cast, almost every role amounts to a cameo; no one has much time to really dig into a performance. Instead, we get highlights of the best and brightest moments. Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz and Lucy Liu return as the angels and John Forsythe reprises his role from the TV series as the voice of Charlie. The always-funny Bernie Mac replaces Bill Murray as Bosley, with some throwaway joke that they're actually brothers.

Then we have Crispin Glover, Matt LeBlanc and Luke Wilson returning from the last movie, and Demi Moore, Robert Patrick, Justin Theroux (Mulholland Drive) and John Cleese joining us for the first time. I imagine that if McG could have resurrected Orson Welles, we'd have a nifty voiceover narration as well.

The plot has the Angels attempting to retrieve two stolen rings, which, when connected, will reveal the secret names and locations of everyone in the FBI's witness relocation program. The owner of this list can then sell it to the highest bidding mafia goons. The twist is that Dylan (Barrymore) is actually a relocated witness herself, having turned in her former Irish mobster boyfriend Seamus O'Grady (Theroux).

That Demi Moore turns out to be the bad guy isn't too surprising, but she chews on the part with consummate cool. (And she's hot, hot, hot!) She reminded me of the sweet Olivia Newton-John who went away for the summer and came back as the slinky, leather-clad sex-goddess Olivia Newton-John.

Like one of Howard Hawks' screwball comedies tanked up with jet fuel, Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle knows that if it slows down, it would have to concentrate on characters or plot or something that, in this case, is not quite there. (Not unlike the original TV series.) It's a fast-moving vaudeville show or a hyper-collage. Images are photocopied and blown up and overlapped with other images and the whole thing spins around on a pinwheel with bells and whistles going off and a great mix tape playing in the background. Whether it will hold up to multiple viewings remains to be seen.

Yet somehow McG wrings poetry out of this madness. The movie boasts a palpable excitement, like a kid who has invited us over to play with his awesome new train set. He's taken the parts that came in the box and laid them out in some new way that's familiar but exciting.

He loves it and he's good at it. Unlike many of Hollywood's other recent action movies, McG seems to know how to handle his. He gives us a sense of clarity and speed, and only uses CGI at the edges of the frame instead of dead center where it gives itself away (see The Hulk). The excellent kung-fu choreography is again credited to Yuen Cheung-yan, the brother of the great Yuen Wo-ping (The Matrix, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon).

The only time Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle really slows down is when the girls begin to realize that their fun will not last forever. A cameo by Jaclyn Smith attests to the fact that these new Angels are just the latest in a long line and that someday their time will be up. This distraction might have killed the action, but instead it adds a kind of mortality: let's have fun while we still can.

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