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[whitespace] 'Charlie's Angels'
They're No Angels: Lucy Liu, Cameron Diaz and Drew Barrymore are elite private investigators skilled in the deadly art of the threatening karate chop pose.

Halo Again

Angels rush in where fools fear to tread in the big-screen treatment of 'Charlie's Angels'

By Richard von Busack

THE FILM of Charlie's Angels is an apple that didn't fall far from its dumbass tree. True to the dimwit sprit of the original TV show, it putters along for its appointed time (90 minutes) and ends. It's a series of semi-connected coming attractions for the movie. Three girls work for a mysterious boss named "Charlie" as superpowered private detectives. The subject is pilfered software that allows digital call recognition, so that "no one will ever have privacy again." (I think only movie stars really worry about this stuff.)

Whatever happened to the fate of the world--where's the stolen A-bomb, then? Drew Barrymore as "Dylan" flashes her lucky inheritance, that Barrymore face that's liquefied a century's worth of moviegoers; Cameron Diaz ("Natalie") once again acts like a toddler in rompers; and once again, Lucy Liu ("Alex") is too fierce a woman warrior for the movies to figure out how to handle. Liu has one really commendable midriff. She's been doing her Pilates exercises. (I thought "Pilates exercises" were a euphemism for "crucifixion," but apparently they only feel like it). When Liu disguises herself as a haughty masseuse, walking on villain Tim Curry's back, I remembered that line from the Ginger Rogers movie Roxie Hart--"I've never seen anything that looked less like Whistler's Mother." Why can't Curry be more alert for their scene together? If you can't come alive for Lucy Liu, mister, you're not ever going to come alive.

Sam Rockwell, here a kidnapped computer genius, has been tried every which way, as thug and romantic lead and sensitive fool, and he's never been worthwhile. To television with him! The other noteworthy male, Bill Murray as Bosley, the male assistant, has a group of scenes chopped up like salad. Murray never gets a chance for that remarkable face to don its usual look of dignity scorned. The director here is a hipster who calls himself "McG." McD is closer to it--Big Mac-level dialogue, Mickey D-style flagrant product placement, sloppy blue screen, and the usual digital zzzzz--oh my shocked eyes the bullets are swimming in slow motion. Now, that's movie magic.

No, I wasn't expecting Grand Illusion here--just something at least as coherent as a Hong Kong actioner, or the dozens of spy movies this puppy rooted through. Anything but the three women driving around in forced camaraderie, or the criminal self-indulgences, such as the odd way Lucy Liu's accordion and Drew Barrymore's own squeeze Tom Green were written in. The final blow: a simpering moment of John Forsythe saluting the girls as his "precious treasures."(Unless he's referring to his residual checks from the Charlie's Angels TV show ...)

Charlie's Angels (PG; 92 min.), directed by McG, written by Ryan Rowe, Ed Solomon and John August, photographed by Russell Carpenter and starring Lucy Liu, Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz, Bill Murray and Tim Curry, opens Friday at selected theaters valleywide.

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From the November 2-8, 2000 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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