I am afraid that I have had to go backwards rather than forwards this week, but I believe for the right reasons.
I must warn you about Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle. I realise many of you will have been perusing the listings of your local multiplex thinking "What shall we see this weekend? It’s Saturday night, so we don't want anything too arthouse, and that documentary about some birds flying a long way to a place maybe award winning but really it’s the weekend so we want fun fun fun, oh cool Charlie’s Angels sequel, Cameron Diaz’s underpant dancing was like so funny in the first one, and Drew Barrymore is just to die for and all the explosions and everything and the tongue in the cheek and the postmodern irony, two for the stalls please."
Well for god’s sake don't.
Full Throttle is the first of the summer blockbusters that I have witnessed this year having passed on Matrix Reloaded after hearing that it was so utterly banal and witless that the 'maybe if I give Neo a little kiss he'll get better' scene from number one would have looked out of place in the sequel due to its level of emotional and philosophical sophistication. Full Throttle’s main problem is that it spends so much of its running time excusing itself from being a proper movie by saying 'heck, it’s just a bit of fun, this is a no brainer, no point in being critical, looking we are taking the piss', that it fails to engage on any level whatsoever.
The first film was entertaining to a point, with some funny sequences, a few wry asides and at least the vestiges of a plot. This sequel is no more than a sequence of pop videos glued together with endless shots of the girls giggling just like girls together (RiotGrrrl power. Please - Huggy Bear and Voodoo Queens, reform as a top assassination squad and garrote the director McG).
All the things that worked in the first film are endlessly paraded out again and again - Cameron Diaz’s sexy geeky, Y-front dancing persona is bludgeoned into our heads until the audience’s eyes spout blood, double entendre’s that would have shamed Carry on Girls, and even possibly Mike Myers, spew forth ('I like it
big and hard', 'I like it long', 'I like mine really wet', 'Fist my arse' etc etc) - and, even worse, Bill Murray has been replaced by funnyman minstrel and Amos and Andy fan Bernie Mac.
Bill Murray’s archness in the first film worked as a great foil to the giggling grrls, but rumours were rife that he didn't see eye to eye with his co-stars (Lucy Liu supposedly once told him how to be funny) and so Bernie Mac plays his black brother (hahaha joke number one, but stolen from The Jerk). Bernie Mac’s eye rolling, cotton picking performance would not have looked out of place in a 1930’s Bob Hope movie ('Masser, I ain't goin’ in dat house, dere be ghosts in there') and his comedy moments, such as accidentally zapping himself with a tazer are as lame as they are illogical. One can only hope that he and Martin Lawrence will soon be teamed up for the summer blockbuster Even Bigger Momma’s House.
The main winners in this movie are British songwriters who will be receiving some attractively big royalty cheques. In fact, if you close your eyes during the movie you will at least be enjoying a reasonably well put together compilation tape from the mid-90s. The Prodigy’s Firestarter and Breathe liven up a couple of action sequences, Chemical brothers Block Rocking Beats makes another soundtrack appearance, even Edwyn Collins’ Girl Like You arrives to reduce the tedium (its finest appearance since its frequent playings in the Home and Away Diner).
Full Throttle is not dissimilar to the series of thirties Hollywood movies called the Follies of... These films were a selection of highly choreographed dance sequences with occasional comedy moments and marginal vestiges of a plot. Every Full Throttle sequence starts with a song - the girls are dressed as dock welders so we have Flashdance’s What a feeling, the heavily tattooed evil villain is being released from jail so we hear the music from Cape Fear, Demi Moore appears, so we hear the sound of solid resin cast thighs creaking under their strained musculature.
Demi Moore, who took her part of the bad angel so seriously in this film that it is believed she had new breast implants for it, is possibly the best bit of pantomime in the movie, as she sneers and licks her way through the angels to her obvious demise. The close up shots of her bikini line merely prompts the question, when exactly did Harry Glassman remove her genitals to create the new, even smoother look?
The other villain is Justin Theroux, who has previously appeared in Mulholland Drive and is in the new season of six feet Under, but who in this is the kind of Oirish Paddy that would normally make a guest appearance in a Bernard manning joke. Because the film is so utterly pleased with its post-modern attitude and oh so cleverness, it is impossible to know whether Theroux’s utterly dreadful Irish/Scottish/all kinds of everything accent is a joke that doesn’t work or the product of disastrous speech coaching.
The action sequences are noisy, brash and colourful, but also utterly uninteresting. McG (oh for fuck’s sake, what kind of name is McG?) loves his rapid montages so much that the mind just switches off in jaded confusion as bikes explode in the air, crash into metal and mid-air gunplay slo-mos to a standstill. Even the blooper reel that regales the end credits again suffers from a terrible try hardism that make sit appears that McG has forced the girls to fluff their lines and giggle.
For the intended audience (the sort who emotionally engage with the subjects of Trisha) there are yards of buttocks, more nipple shots and plenty of sodden breasts on show (Cameron Diaz’s buttocks really do become utterly boring) and for those who were hoping for a nostalgia dip there is an appearance by Jaclyn Smith and a fleeting reference to Rydell High.
On a sad note, this film marks another death in John Cleese’s career as he makes a cameo as lucy Liu’s father. Amusingly, due to a misunderstanding, he believes that his daughter has become a prostitute engaging in extreme orgy sex acts. Also watch out for Disney cash cows Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen and Bruce Willis.
Full Throttle wastes a funny cast and a budget that would fund the European film industry for six months on a piece of cretinous pus that spits at the intelligence of its audience.
It really is no fun.