Comfortable and Furious

Charlie’s Angels(2000)

Alright, I’m pretty much fed up with the “my movie is stupid, but it acknowledges that it’s stupid so you can’t say that it’s stupid, no take backs infinity plus infinity” approach to filmmaking. Charlie’s Angel’s is professionally–even well done, but it’s fucking stupid.

Really, it’s not the stupidity that bothers me. It’s the “so stupid it’s not stupid” thing. In the beginning of the film people are watching TJ Hooker: The Movie, which is supposed to show that the filmmakers know how stupid Charlie’s Angels the movie is. Irony established, they expect carte blanch for the rest of the film.

This is supposed to be an action flick, but all of the action is undermined by gratuitous special effects and/or terrible music that’s chosen because it is expected that the audience will recognize it and go, “cool.” I pressed mute. The effects are basically lifted from the Matrix, but this film doesn’t take place in the matrix, so they don’t really make any sense. They aren’t supposed to. I realize that. “It’s so stupid it’s not stupid.” It still drains any excitement for me. Also, far too few people are killed in this film. It’s almost like an episode of “The A-team,” in terms of ineffectual violence.

The other thing about this film that is stupid, or at least low brow, but which doesn’t really bother me, is the camera’s wonton ogling of the angels. I’d actually given Lucy Lui’s ass a separate credit. It gets more screen time than Bill Murray, so I think the credit is warranted.

My hearty acceptance of the ogling is not entirely a case of my being a pig.   Actually, I wish more films would do this.   So many are primarily just occasions to look at attractive people doing cool things–why not just admit it?   Linger on that ass for a couple of seconds.   It’s just as true (but not as appealing, the opinion of this reviewer) if the ass belongs to Freddy Prinze Jr./his double as if it belongs to Cameron Diaz/her double.   Gawking at sexy people is fun.   It doesn’t degrade them as actors or people.   It just means lots of people want to fuck them.

See, I don’t mind the lightness of this film.   I even liked the bombardment of dance numbers and costumes and stuff.   My objection comes down to the fact that it never aims higher at all.   OK, it’s a dumb fun sex/action flick.   It’s junk food.   But can’t the action scenes be at least a little compelling?   Does the soundtrack have to be utterly condescending?   Can’t there be one piece of dialog that might go over the head of the typical seven-year-old?  No, because if that happened, they could no longer say “it’s so stupid, it’s not stupid. ” Give me just plain old “stupid, but not that stupid” any day.   But keep the ass shots.

The acting in this film is pretty good.   The titular (tee-hee) angels, in particular maintain the right kind of levity, although it’s hard to believe that anyone as smart as they are purported to be would giggle so much.   Bill Murray is Bill Murray.   Everyone else does fine, but none really stands out.   I couldn’t pay enough attention to notice if they did anyway.

DVD Extras

The commentary by Nichol and the DOP is booooring.  What did you expect?   There’s nothing to talk about.   This is a set, this isn’t a set.   We shot this with a crane.   Tom Green said something funny that we edited out.   Makes you feel kind of the same way you do when you take an extra spoonful or two of prescription cough medicine.

It does reveal that Nichol actually goes by the name McG.  The DOP calls him by that name like ten times.   This practically turns into sketch comedy when the two-start talking about LL Cool J.  LL was really good in this scene. He sure was McG.

There’s also one really weird part where Nichol ponders whether a joke about the defective intercom at a fast-food restaurant rings true outside of California.   Apparently, he’s under the impression that this problem is widespread in California (I”ve lived in LA, the North Bay and the South Bay and can tell you that it is not) and he’s sure everyone there will get the “California joke” but he’s not sure if it’s a problem outside of CA.

There’s a fluff piece about how enthusiastic Nichols is.  He seems like a nice guy. I think he has a kind of Baz Ritchie-ish talent to make fun movies.  There just needs to be something at the center for me to like them. A There are several more features along those lines along as well as some deleted scenes and bloopers

Ruthless Ratings:

  • Overall: 4
  • Direction: 5
  • Acting: 6
  • Story: 2.5
  • DVD Extras: 5

Special Ruthless Ratings:

  • Number of times the oppressive soundtrack made you reach for a knife: Only when music was playing or I remembered the music that had been played or thought about what music might be played next.
  • Number of times you thought you were watching a Carrot Top movie:  I could have that sworn He was in this movie at some point.  Isn’t there a thing with him and Paulie Shore?
  • Number of Times the Movie was Paused to do Something Else: 0
  • Number of Times Something Else was Done Without Pausing: 5 or 6.