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The Forgaughtens: Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle (2003)

Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle Movie (2003)

I was pretty forgiving when I wrote last week about the 2000 Charlie’s Angels film. Yes, it’s packed with some really inappropriate and disappointing instances of cultural appropriation, but the three leads and the film’s very manic “turn of the millinnium” energy help it mostly succeed nonetheless.

Thankfully, its sequel, 2003’s Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle doesn’t have nearly as much appropriation, but that’s where my praise (if you even want to call it that) for the film ends. The actresses seem a lot less interested. The action scenes are inane. And the energy I loved in the first iteration is completely misused here. This film blows.

The film revolves around twin rings that … do something. I don’t even remember. Let’s call them decoder rings. Anyway, there’s a guy who has one, and the Angels rescue him in Mongolia. Bruce Willis has the other. He gets killed about 15 minutes in. The Angels spot the Thin Man (Crispin Glover) from the first film. He … likes hair or something. Shia LaBeouf is there. He rides dirtbikes and hangs out with Bernie Mac’s mom. Demi Moore surfs. Justin Theroux is an Irish mobster. Drew Barrymore’s character isn’t actually named Dylan, but Helen Zaas.

The problem with Full Throttle is that it never seems interested in being a sequel to Charlie’s Angels, which was a female-driven action-comedy that was explicitly and pleasantly inspired by The Matrix (which came out a year earlier). Instead, Full Throttle wants to be a XXX film (the Vin Diesel vehicle from 2002, which came out a year earlier than this) or something similar in which its lead characters are forced to compete in various EXTREME (treme treme treme treme) sports that will, in the end, lead them to solving a crime or mystery. There are myriad reasons why those movies aren’t getting made today – the most powerful being that the idea is supremely stupid – but Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle doesn’t even pull them off all that well. The effects work on this film is absolutely terrible, which forces you to engage with the plot and the hijinks more, and that’s not a good thing either.

The cast also doesn’t seem up to run it back. Lucy Liu was easily the highlight of the first Angels film, but she’s pretty forgettable here. Ditto Cameron Diaz. Drew Barrymore tended to take something of a backseat to her costars in the first film, and she seems determined to make it up to herself here (she’s the only Angel who executive produced these films), but her story line with Theroux is pretty dumb. I liked the expanded Angels universe idea in theory, with Demi Moore and Jaclyn Smith (one of the TV series’ Angels), but the places that side plot goes to are REALLY dumb and oh so barely explained.

I’ll say I did enjoy seeing Bernie Mac as the new Bosley. (Bill Murray, from what I’ve read, had a pretty terrible experience making the first film, but he might have been the turd in the punch bowl, I’m not sure). He doesn’t have all that much to do, and his material isn’t terribly funny, but I just like the guy and miss him, so that was something. Otherwise, this is a major miss, and it’s not hard to see why we didn’t get another Angels film for 16 years.

The verdict: Rightly forgotten

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