Very few spoilers here.
A film I both love and hate- a guilty pleasure. Our culture of lookism never had a more fitting example.
Steven Spielberg recently said in an interview that Drew Barrymore would one day be running a studio and forcing him out of retirement. His statement is testament to the incredible work the young actress has accomplished with her production company, Flower Films. She has produced a slew of solid movies, some of these being Never Been Kissed, Donnie Darko, and Ever After. The latest on that list is “Charlie’s Angels 2: Full Throttle,” a bold and furious sequel that’s almost as pleasing-- and non-life-changing-- as the first.
I say this because it's purely eye-candy and offers nothing substantial to living or even to film as we know it. But for an unchallenging good time it delivers, though a little less than the first. It could have been better-- Full Throttle does suffer slightly from sequel syndrome; it relies too much on jokes and situations that worked in the original, besmirching the film’s overall freshness and capability of standing on its own. Few sequels, however, manage to escape this affliction. Despite this, Dylan, Natalie and Alex (Barrymore, Cameron Diaz and Lucy Liu) still offer viewers a magnanimous jaunt through the crime-fighters’ latest assignment.
On a quest to find two valuable titanium rings that are encrypted with top secret government information, the Angels manage to travel everywhere from Mongolia to California in a multitude of disguises to retrieve them. Demi Moore portrays the primary villain, a fallen Angel, and Justin Theroux is the other evil— who also happens to be an ex of Dylan’s— and you could say his longtime grudge with her is more than a little unhealthy.
Barrymore, Diaz and Liu again give good performances— although in truth the characters don’t require tremendous stretch— and Demi proved smashing as a gorgeous but unhinged ex-Angel. Bernie Mac plays the new and hilarious Bosley. Who could be funnier licking the wax on a stranger’s surfboard, then saying “Hmm That’s grape isn’t it?” Theroux manages to be a divinely awful rogue, and Crispin Glover returns as “Creepy Thin Man,” with the creep factor amped up even more than before.
They kick butt in absurdly impossible ways to an extremely eclectic soundtrack. Ton Loc, White Zombie, Donna Summer and Prodigy are only some of the musicians adding torque to Full Throttle's velocity. A slew of celebrity cameos add flair for viewers, and a number of nods are made to other beloved flicks during the course of the film. Some I caught included Grease, Saturday Night Fever, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Flashdance and Cape Fear.
Both Charlie’s Angels movies are not artistically "great" pieces of work, but of course they were never meant to be such. The quality of this film and it’s predecessor doesn’t come from high-brow humor, witty dialogue and intricate plot lines, but rather from it’s blatant disregard for all of these things along with the subtle self-mocking that exudes from the two Angel flicks. Oh, and the mega dollars spent to make the glossy show totally top notch. I'd love to see a paper written about this movie, "the male gaze," and the statement this thing makes about entertainment in America (and elsewhere) today.
“Full Throttle” is well-crafted camp, and I must admit I have a love/hate thing going with it. It does almost overdose on Matrix-style action sequences, though, and the dialogue could have been more creative. Sure it’s basically a 106-minute music video, but it’s easily one of the best in that overflowing bin.
Rated: PG-13 for some violence, language and sexual innuendo.
--Incidentally I saw this with my Southern Baptist grandmother. Her opinion? "I felt like I'd been shot ten times."