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Saturday, 4 November, 2000, 08:25 GMT
Hollywood resurrects the Angels
Lucy Liu, Cameron Diaz and Drew Barrymore
Chick action movie: Lucy Liu, Cameron Diaz and Drew Barrymore
By BBC News Online entertainment correspondent Tom Brook

A big-budget movie version of Charlie's Angels, the popular 70s American TV series, arrives at US cinemas this weekend amid expectations that it will enjoy a strong opening at the box office.

The lavish production, estimated to have cost $80m, stars Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore and Lucy Liu as three police academy graduates working as sexy private detectives for Charlie, a mysterious unseen millionaire.

The actresses are taking on characters made famous around the world by the Charlie's Angels series, first broadcast in America from 1976 to 1981.

This is going to be an action movie, girls are going to kick ass

Drew Barrymore
Every week millions tuned in to watch the original Angels, portrayed by Farrah Fawcett, Kate Jackson and Jaclyn Smith, track down the bad guys.

As a trio the Angels had a captivating presence - they were dynamic, clever and they exuded sexiness and attitude.

In spirit the new movie is quite similar to the TV series and it has already won plaudits from at least one former TV Angel. Cheryl Ladd, who joined the TV series in 1977, thought the film worked well.

She said, "I absolutely loved it. I hooted and hollered and had a great time, it was so funny, it was just wild I think it's going to be a huge hit."

A driving force behind the big screen version of the Angels is Drew Barrymore, one of its stars, who also worked as a producer on the film.

It was Barrymore's enthusiasm, her desire to make it a hip female empowerment picture, that helped to persuade Cameron Diaz to join the cast.

Diaz recalls how Barrymore told her, "this is going to be an action movie, girls are going to kick ass, there' s no guns, you get to do kung fu, it's going to be a chick's action movie!"

Today's Angels: Perilously close to colluding with demeaning male sexual fantasies
But bringing Charlie's Angeles to the big screen has been fraught with problems.

Production started without a completed screenplay, and it's been reported that at least 10 different writers worked on the script.

There was also a widely publicized on set squabble between Lucy Liu and the actor Bill Murray, who plays the part of Angels' supervisor Bosley.

The movie opens strongly with an action scene on board an aircraft that develops into a prologue similar to those seen at the start of a traditional James Bond film.

The plot, which revolves around the kidnapping of a high-tech entrepreneur, is not the film's strong point.

The girls are the central attraction and no time is wasted in getting them to engage in Matrix-style mayhem in titillating costumes in a wide range of locations.

The girls get quite violent but the movie's creators are quick to emphasize that this is a action chick flick that relies on martial arts, not guns.


Charlie's Angels resembles an extended music video with lots of stimulating visuals. Its high-octane energy and strong cast should give it a must-see cachet among younger moviegoers.

The film definitely bears the handiwork of its first-time feature director McG who has a background in music videos and commercials.

Within the industry the general view is that the film will open strongly led by business from its target teenage audience, but it is not clear at this stage whether it will crossover and appeal to adults.

Some American reviewers are describing Charlie's Angels as a female empowerment fantasy.

Cheryl Ladd seems to agree because she sees the film as "girl-power friendly." But not everyone views the film in such benign terms.

The new Charlie's Angels actresses may be tough and sexy, but they come perilously close to colluding with demeaning male sexual fantasies in order to sell their movie.

The underlying problem with Charlie's Angels is that it represents more of a mechanical entertainment product than an impassioned creation.

Cleavage, well-executed martial arts and numerous music video-style sequences have simply been combined to make a movie that sells.

There is little real wit, human passion and creative sizzle and devotees of the original TV series will find that behind the hype this glossy regurgitation of 70s pop culture offers little that is new.

See also:

24 Oct 00 | Entertainment
Charlie's Angels movie premières
13 Jul 00 | Entertainment
'Wild child' Drew settles down
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