Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle | Film | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle 


Of the four powerful, independent, brainy, beautiful women in Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle- -- Natalie (Cameron Diaz), the high-school cheerleading Beaver (team mascot); Dylan (Drew Barrymore), the ex-punk with a taste for bad boys; Alex (Lucy Liu), the gymnast-cum-contortionist; and the raven-haired, Nobel Prize-winning former Angel and villainous villainess Madison (Demi Moore) -- I think the one I'd most like to spend an evening with is Barrymore.

That's pretty much how I feel every time I see her in a movie. (Well, not every time. Not E.T., of course.) She has fortitude, a frisky smile, lips that move in different directions when she talks, and she seems like she'd be open to things -- for example, Ethiopian cuisine, followed by some performance art.

Full Throttle, the second of the postmodern, post-TV Charlie's Angels revivals, is loads more fun than you'd expect. Spry and goofy, and larded with pop-cult puns and rhetorical ribaldry, it's a frisky balance of respect for its roots and awareness of its need to be way, way over the top. Its plot -- involving corrupt feds, secret decoder rings and the sanguinary Irish mob -- is beautifully banal and convoluted. We all know that the Angels' derring-do can't really be done: In the post-Crouching Tiger era, anyone can fly. And yet Full Throttle, slickly directed by the nominal McG, exhibits a certain intangible '70s disco-cheesiness to complement its requisite postmillennial technology.

The guys in the Angels' lives include Bernie Mac as the wincing-cool mama's boy Bosley; Crispin Glover as the fetishistic Thin Man; Matt LeBlanc and Luke Wilson as whipped Angel boyfriends (Drew is single!); Justin Theroux and Robert Patrick as antagonists; Bruce Willis as a cameo victim; and John Cleese as Liu's bemused father (he thinks she's a hooker). John Forsythe again and forever voices Charlie, the world's most elusive, avuncular and benevolent employer.

Although the Angels always take their orders from men, Charlie's Angels is nevertheless a franchise about female empowerment, just like Buffy the Vampire Slayer. This might not be exactly what Susan B. Anthony and Gloria Steinem imagined when they doffed their Maidenforms (which, in Full Throttle, are made of Kevlar). But these Angels are sexually liberated, they kick some serious digital ass, and their adventures are inarguably a great leap forward from Kisses for My President, the 1964 movie that climaxed with the line, "Ladies and gentlemen, the President is pregnant." (That'll teach a gal to get uppity and run for public office.)

Finally, Full Throttle represents a resurrection (or is it a return?) for Demi Moore, who, in her previous starring role, told her drill sergeant, "Suck my dick!" You can diss G.I. Jane and Moore's two silly nudie movies all you like, but that was an awesome moment. In Full Throttle, she's viciously amusing as an ultra-supercilious fallen Angel who's hell-bent on revenge. I never thought I'd say this, but the former Miss Thing of Hollywood Self-Absorption left me wanting Moore. ***


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