Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle
Director: McG. Cast: Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz, Lucy Liu, Bernie Mac, Demi Moore, Justin Theroux, John Cleese, Matt LeBlanc, Luke Wilson, Crispin Glover, Shia LaBeouf, Jaclyn Smith, Pink, Eve. Screenplay: John August and Cormac & Marianne Wibberley.
Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle. Diagnosis: D.O.A.
Personal expectations: pretty high. Whose fault?: my own. Only reason: franchise loyalty. First movie: spirited fluff. Winning qualities: silliness, novelty, stuntwork, exuberance. (Best sequence: Soul Train.) Throttle level: high enough. Potential excesses: held in check.
Full Throttle: total breakdown. Sequel’s humor: virtually absent. Novelty value: significantly diminished. Stunt sequences: total overkill. Directorial style: antic incoherence. (Director moniker: McG. Artistic origin: music videos. Spike Jonze?: he ain’t.)
Narrative premise: stolen decoder ring. Sounds like: Cracker Jack toy. Ring contains: Witness Protection identities. Bad sign: screenplay explains Witness Protection. (Movie audience: massively underestimated.)
Opening sequence: Himalayan saloon. (Raiders of the Lost Ark: robbed blind.) Local atmosphere: drunken brutishness. Assistant director: why bother? “Ethnic” extras: left to themselves. Ubiquitous gestures: slobbering, imbibing. Sudden reversal: comical bloodthirst. Audience reaction: total uncomprehension. Drew Barrymore: gambling at table. Lucy Liu: rescuing hostage. Cameron Diaz: astride mechanical yak. Activities related?: if you say so. Ensuing chase: totally unfollowable. Fireballs: yes. Fast driving: yes. Crashing through walls: yes. Plunges into icy water: yes. Elapsed time: five minutes. (Italian Job?: not again!) Sequence upshot: Nepalis are barbarians. Other upshot: Angels are geniuses. True or false?: you be the judge.
Ensuing plot: none to speak of. Large cast: totally wasted. Bill Murray: AWOL, smart. Bernie Mac: filling in. Bernie Mac: treading water. Bernie Mac: Bosley’s brother. Other brother: Shia LaBeouf. (Who’s he?: Holes kid.) White guys: black brother. Asian woman: white father. Interracial gags: apparently hilarious. Comedic nadir?: amazingly, no. Probable lowpoint: prostitution jokes. Suspected hooker: Lucy Liu. Who suspects?: her own father. (Caucasian father: ha ha!) Joke repeated: ad infinitum. Actual prostitutes: cast, crew. After all: $20 million paychecks. (Cameron Diaz: I’m talking to you!)
Post-Nepal: listless exposition. (Brief delight: impromptu Hammerdance.) Returning characters: bland boyfriends. Matt LeBlanc: forever Joey. Luke Wilson: inexplicably famous. New theme: separation anxiety. Looming threat: Cameron will leave. (Note to Cameron: good idea! Cameron stays: $20 million!)
Remaining cast: endless cameos. C-listers include: Pink, Eve, the Olsen twins. Paying rent: Carrie Fisher, Eric Bogosian. Jaclyn Smith: looks uncomfortable. Crispin Glover: more, please! Minor coup: Justin Theroux. (Who’s he?: Mulholland Drive.) Present role: Irish madman. Why Irish?: ethnicity is funny. Back story: Drew’s sweetheart. Turns out: he’s a madman. Turns out: Drew’s in Witness Protection. (What’s that?: keep up!) Drew’s real name: Heather Zass. Sounds like: Heather’s Ass. Movie thinks: comedic goldmine. Resulting jokes: yawn, yawn.
Other “coup” : Demi Moore. Demi’s career: long dead. Charlie’s Angels: comeback bid. Demi’s character: Madison Bell. Madison’s status: fallen Angel. Madison’s dream: rule the world. Demi’s dream: rule the movie. Other Angels: apparently annoyed. Demi’s body: showcased relentlessly. Demi’s body: eerily bionic. Demi’s eyes: silver, lifeless. Demi’s acting: eerily bionic. Demi’s prospects: renewed obscurity.
Peripheral ingredients: beyond number. (Whole movie: peripheral ingredients.) Extreme sport: Motocross dirtbiking. Extreme sport: gratuitous surfing. Extreme sport: kung fu. All sports: digitally enhanced. All stunts: performed by others. Plot contribution: totally zero. Fun contribution: no better. Meanwhile, subplot: high-school reunion. Eventual payoff: Cameron dances. Soul Train: far superior.
What else?: already forgotten. Still curious?: be my guest. Saw it with: four friends. Satisfied customers: 2/5. Otherwise: empty theater. Week of release: very first. Box-office omen: bad indeed. Obvious explanation: disappointed audiences. Franchise standards: pretty humble. Genre standards: even lower. Only requirements: entertainment, story. Batting average: 0/2. You don’t build it: we won’t come. Hopefully averted: Angels 3. Full Throttle: half-assed. D