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Wayback Wednesday: Charlie’s Angels (2000)

“Independent Women, Pt.1” will forever be an anthem, a bop, and the greatest gift this movie has bestowed upon us.

Until a couple of days ago, I had never seen any part of the Charlie’s Angels franchise. Not the original series, the 2011 reboot series, the instantly forgotten 2019 reboot movie, or even the beloved original movie adaptation, Charlie’s Angels (2000). Which honestly, is shocking. I’ve always loved the overall premise and fabulousness of the franchise. Hello, a trio of best friends who are also super spies and use their strength and intelligence to solve crimes and save the world? Fuck yes to all of this! Oh my God, does anyone remember that show Totally Spies! (2001 – 2013)? I’m embarrassed to admit that I’m only realizing now that it was just an animated version of Charlie’s Angels. I had so much fun watching the action, comedy, and romance on that show growing up, so it’s no wonder why I had a blast watching this movie.

Screen Shot 2020-04-20 at 5.02.40 PM
Credit: / Sony Pictures Releasing

Based on the 1970s TV series of the same name, Charlie’s Angels follows Alex, Natalie, and Dylan, a trio of talented private investigators working for the Townsend Agency. Together, the Angels use their unique skills to thwart the evil scheme of a tech billionaire who wants to get revenge on their boss, Charlie himself.

Okay, first things first, I was NOT expecting how bizarre this movie was going to turn out to be. I had a sneaky suspicion that like most movie adaptations of old TV series that were released in the early 2000s, Charlie’s Angels was going to feature nonsensical dance breaks, outdated technology, unnecessarily horny scenes, and those blue-tinted sunglasses everyone seemed to own. Trust and believe, all of those made their way into this movie. However, NOTHING could have prepared me for the likes of Bill Murray sumo wrestling Tim Curry, LL Cool J ripping off his face to reveal he’s actually Drew Barrymore, or Cameron Diaz dancing to “Baby Got Back” on Soul Train (1971 – 2006). If you haven’t seen Charlie’s Angels before, trust me, that last one is just as cringey as you’d expect. Despite the consistent and blatant bizarreness, there’s no denying that the new millennium’s take on Charlie’s Angels is still a super fun movie to watch.

I appreciate that this new iteration doesn’t attempt to completely reinvent the idea of Charlie’s Angels. Like, could you imagine if director McG had decided to reimagine the Angels as grim, gritty, antiheroes? That would have been terrible! Thankfully, the movie honours the fun, light, cheesy, silliness of the original series, and delivers an action-comedy that feels like the perfect blend of source material and modern update. You can really tell that everyone involved with the making of this movie understand that tone and they totally nail it. Charlie’s Angels is a movie that doesn’t worry about taking itself too seriously. It knows that you want a sexy, bright, action-packed spy adventure, and that’s exactly what you get. There wasn’t even any expository set-up! The movie doesn’t wast time setting up what the Townsend Agency is, or who the Angels are (except for a brief montage that I was obsessed with) and just jumps right into the story, assuming you know all about the source material. Which is fair because seriously, how could you not know about Charlie’s Angels? I’m pretty sure we’ve all done at least one Angels pose when taking group shots with our friends.

Speaking of friends, can we talk about this team of Angels? And how badly I want to hang out with them and maybe be an Angel myself? Lucy Liu, Cameron Diaz, and Drew Barrymore star as Alex, Natalie, and Dylan respectively, the titular heroines. Intelligent, determined, and badass as fuck, each one perfectly captures the essence of being one of Charlie’s Angels and it’s thoroughly entertaining to watch. Am I going to check out the sequel, Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle (2003) just so I can watch each of these ladies have even more fun as these characters? Absolutely! Each Angel shows off a ton of cool skills and detection techniques, some of which are more believable than others. Martial arts, codebreaking, disguise…sure, those all make sense. Recognizing and imitating bird calls? Where the fuck did that come from, Natalie?

Charlie’s Angels is a breezy, straightforward enough movie that it doesn’t need to dig too deeply, but I wish it could have at least rounded out its main characters a bit more. Besides being three of the most badass women I’ve ever seen, I didn’t really get a sense of who the Angels are as characters. By no means is this trying to be a character-driven drama, but fleshing out the main characters would have been the cherry on top of this fast-paced, non-stop thrill-ride. Liu, Diaz, and Barrymore each completely understand what kind of movie they’re in and bring the appropriate levels of fabulous campiness to everything they do. You know what else the bring to everything they do? Wigs. You guys, my brain could not comprehend HOW. MANY. WIGS are in this movie, all with varying degrees of believability.

Oh my God, you know what movie Charlie’s Angels most reminds me of? Spy Kids (2001). Not only because it’s so simple it’s borderline a kid’s movie, but mostly because it’s so aggressively trying to shove every single element of a spy movie into the hour and a half runtime. And it succeeds! I would not have been surprised to learn McG had a checklist of spy clichés in front of him while filming, because the movie gives us the following: going undercover, martial arts standoffs, high-speed car chases, jumping out of airplanes, being blown back by explosions, using high-tech gadgets, flirting at a cocktail party…Really, it’s less a movie and more a collection of one exciting spy scene after another. Hey, it makes the movie fly by and is entertaining as hell so I’m not bothered. Also, ALL the cameos help the movie fly. Sam Rockwell, Luke Wilson, Tom Green (ugh) Matt LeBlanc, and MELISSA MCCARTHY? I love that everyone is in this!

I firmly believe that the reason Hollywood keeps bring back Charlie’s Angels every 10 years is that because like James Bond, we’ll never get tired of watching their adventures. After being exposed to the overall nonsensical delight of McG’s Charlie’s Angels, I can safely say that I want to experience as many adventures with them as I can. Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle, here I come!

Are you a fan of Charlie’s Angels? Which version is your favourite?

Let me know in the comments or on social media!




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