We were all immature once. Some of us still are, perhaps. As Ecclesiastes 3:1 states, “There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens.” What that means, basically, is that we all go through phases, even ones where we willingly watch films like Charlie’s Angels (2000). I have no idea how this stacks up with the more recent 2019 version. Among Cameron and I, and when movies are being released normally, whenever there is a particular opening we are excited about we lobby to review that one. Whatever else is coming out is left to the other, or as we like to put it, “falling on the sword.” This 2000 remake of a television show from the 1970s is a self-inflicted wound.
Charlie’s Angels gives us a brief introduction of the three leading ladies and how they became a part of an elite trio of independent crime fighters bank rolled by the elusive millionaire Charles “Charlie” Townsend (John Forsythe). I have never understood why they need John Bosley (Bill Murray), but he sits there and is the face, I suppose, of Charlie. Of the women, there is the boisterous Natalie Cook (Cameron Diaz), the unlucky(?) Dylan Sanders (Drew Barrymore), and the deadly Alex Munday (Lucy Liu). There are all beautiful, brilliant, skilled martial artists, and masters of disguise. The Townsend Agency receives a new client in the form of technology genius Eric Knox (Sam Rockwell), whose company Knox Enterprises has developed some kind of new voice recognition software that is dangerous for science reasons. His assistant, Vivian Wood (Kelly Lynch), informs the agency that Knox has been kidnapped by rival sattelite company Redstar, along with his new program. Immediately suspicion is cast on Redstar’s owner, Roger Corwin (Tim Curry), and the Angels go undercover to get to the bottom of their new case. In the process, they are able to “rescue” Knox and break into Redstar’s computers. They also learn that this is all a setup by Knox to gain access to his rival’s satellites, and that his software was never stolen. This is part of Knox’s overarching plot to get revenge on Charlie, who he blames for killing his father when they were in Army intelligence together. Knox sees Bosley as the key to learning Charlie’s secret location, and using his voice-recognition program and Redstar’s satellite, he hopes to locate the secluded crime stopper and blew him up with a missile. You know, classic. Through a series of ridiculous, gravity defying kicks, punches, gunshots, and explosions, the Angels save the day, of course.
When the original Charlie’s Angels television show aired in the 1970s, it was at a time when the Feminist Movement was just beginning. It would seem that ABC wanted to appeal to a rising demographic that wanted to see more independent women who could do the things that men do, like catching bad guys, but also look beautiful while doing it. You could say that this broad attraction accounted for its lasting popularity, and why it can still be found in reruns to this day, not to mention the film versions. With the 2000 iteration, it would seem that they took a step backward from the heady days of the 1970s. Without actually completely showing the naughty bits, there are so many shots of butts and cleavage as to set back women’s rights by at least a decade. Yes, the Angels are still women doing things once reserved for men in both society and fiction. But they are also basically treated as objects in this movie, who also apparently need boyfriends. Does this female enlightenment sound strange coming from a dyed-in-the-wool, daily communicant Catholic? It should not. Sure, there are a couple of places in the Bible where Paul tells women to be subordinate to their husbands, and unfortunately too many stop there and use that as a condemnation of Christianity. Read further and you will see that men are pretty much told to do the same thing for their wives. And if that does not sound Charlie’s Angels enough for you, go read the book of Judith some time. She cuts off the head of Holofernes, an Assyrian general, which saves her people from destruction. That is a little more substantive than keeping some creepy old man stalker from being blown up by missile.
Actually, if you sit down and watch Charlie’s Angels and do not take it seriously, it can be entertaining. Maybe that is my problem? There are moments in this film that are intended to be funny as well, although I was laughing in all the wrong places during my recent viewing. And I do not care what anyone says, Tom Green is not funny. He plays Dylan’s love interest, Chad, and his method for getting people to laugh is simply to be weird. That schtick might be chucklesome once, but it does not have staying power, as Green’s career can testify. So if you are feeling nostalgic, just find reruns of the original show.