Dir: McG. US. 2000. 92 mins.
Prod cos: Columbia Pictures, Leonard Goldberg, Flower Films, Tall Trees. US dist: Columbia. Int'l dist: Col TriStar. Prods: Leonard Goldberg, Drew Barrymore, Nancy Juvonen. Exec prods: Betty Thomas, Jenno Topping, Joseph M Caracciolo. Scr: Ryan Rowe & Ed Solomon, John August. DoP: Russell Carpenter. Prod des: J Michael Riva. Ed: Wayne Wahrman, Peter Teschner. Music: Edward Shearmur. Main cast: Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, Lucy Liu, Bill Murray, Sam Rockwell.
Predictably, the big-screen version of Charlie's Angels pumps up its TV model - the frothy mid-seventies series that made a global pin-up of Farrah Fawcett - with a booming pop soundtrack and a slew of action scenes. Less predictable, and much more grating, are the movie's relentlessly ditsy tone and lame sense of humour. Anyone old enough to remember the TV series will find it all pretty witless; younger teens will probably be pulled in early on by the cast and pop trappings, but even that group may lose interest after a few weeks.
The contemporary Angels are supposed to be new recruits to the private investigation agency run by the mysterious Charlie. Cameron Diaz's Natalie is the playful one, Drew Barrymore's Dylan the spunky one, and Lucy Liu's Alex the brainy one. Diaz and Barrymore at least seem to relish their roles, while Liu (from TV's Ally McBeal) looks less comfortable. As Bosley, Charlie's bumbling yet faithful lieutenant, Bill Murray makes a game effort to incite some laughs, but his appearances are fairly brief.
The plot is a standard issue action caper spiked with an array of computer-age gadgets and punctuated by scenes involving the Angels' rather wimpy boyfriends. To battle the bad guys - and apparently as the result of a conscious decision by the filmmakers - the Angels use martial arts rather than guns. Some of the airborne action scenes are efficiently impressive. The fight scenes, meanwhile, are elaborately choreographed but clearly derivative of The Matrix -some of whose experts also worked with the Angels cast.