MagazineFeature articles

Just in | Library of feature articles


Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle (Frank's Take)

01/08/2004. Contributed by Frank Ochieng

Buy Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle in the USA - or Buy Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle in the UK

author pic

The concept of throwaway entertainment comes in all forms, shapes and sizes. And as everybody and their grandmother already knows, an exceedingly high dosage of boisterous brain-dead eye candy is what usually satisfies the majority of giddy moviegoers during the summertime blues.

Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle (2003) Columbia Pictures
1 hr. 51 mins.
Starring: Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz, Lucy Liu, Bernie Mac, Demi Moore, Crispin Glover, Justin Theroux, Robert Patrick, Shia LaBeouf

The concept of throwaway entertainment comes in all forms, shapes and sizes. And as everybody and their grandmother already knows, an exceedingly dosage of boisterous brain-dead eye candy is what usually satisfies the majority of giddy moviegoers during the summertime blues.

Well, the empty-headed surge of the ridiculously overcharged Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle will probably meet the challenge for those whose fetishes includes a loud and overactive jigglefest that’s utterly exhausting as it is needlessly aimless.

Producer-star Drew Barrymore and her splashy director McG (a.k.a. Joseph McGinty Nichol) have come together once again to toss into our laps the continued mindless mayhem that made their previous 2000 box office actioner the $250 million dollar sensation the destined hit that it became.

Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle

Whereas the original film was somewhat savvy in its presentation of curvy and youngish galpals making a mockery out of the action-packed genre in wink-wink fashion while delivering their own spin of raucous feminist fury, Full Throttle is merely an act of sheer overkill.

Methodically, it looks to blatantly bang the audience over the head with an endless array of rapid and risky action sequences with no particular rhyme or reason, a stream of tiresome suggestive jokes and double entendre dialogue only a horny high schooler can fully appreciate, and the insistence of pumping up the volume of its relentlessly brash youth-oriented soundtrack to lend some roguish snap to this pointless popcorn pleaser.

Of course Angels moviemaker McG comes from the fast-paced world of music videos and naturally Barrymore wanted to use his expertise to arm her frivolous flick with some stylistically funky and moody tunes to give Full Throttle its ribald personality.

There’s no doubt that this installment of Charlie’s Angels was gunning for a more appetizing pace of gusto and glitz. Still, it’s too bad that this disjointed T & A session didn’t find time to incorporate a coherent script that could have made this jumpy joyride more palatable in its celebrated outrageousness.

Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle and its cinematic predecessor are based on the tremendously popular late seventies ABC-TV private detective series that made household names out of original halo honeys Jaclyn Smith, Farrah Fawcett-Majors and Kate Jackson. But now the millennium-made movie audiences know the butt-kicking beauties as Natalie Cook (Cameron Diaz), Dylan Sanders (Drew Barrymore) and Alex Munday (Lucy Liu).

The crime-fighting cuties are back and accompanied by an assortment of gimmick-inspired cameos to go along with the exaggerated chaos that makes up their so-called intriguing adventures. Anyway, the tasty-looking trio is still in the employ of top PI Charles Townsend (voiced by veteran actor John Forsythe) who assigns his charges the latest cases over the now-famous trademark speakerphone.

Joining the Angels in the latest caper is another Bosley as played by Emmy-nominated comic actor Bernie Mac. The original Bosley (played by Bill Murray in the first film) has moved on so his smooth as silk adoptive "brother" is there to pick up the pieces and assist the sexy sleuths as needed.

Full Throttle finds the Angels contemplating the transition of their personal livelihood as it threatens to invade their professional obligations. For instance, Natalie has made a decision to move in with her beloved beau Pete (Luke Wilson). In the meanwhile, Dylan is skeptical about Natalie’s closeness with Pete to the point that she may consider leaving altogether thus breaking up their threesome core that have become so instrumental in their "sisters in peril" routine.

This, of course, is designed as an inside chuckle since Dylan’s concern echoes the nostalgic anxiety when TV Angels Fawcett-Majors and Jackson decided to fly the coop for greener pastures. The thought of new blood mixing in with the impeccable chemistry that has been already established has Dylan hitting the sauce to drown her worries.

There to console a distraught Dylan is former Angel Kelly Garrett (Jaclyn Smith reprising her noted television CA persona). As for Alex, her hands are tied up when her father (played by John Cleese) arrives on the scene and is under the assumption that his daughter does prostitution for a living.

It’s a matter of time before the film milks this manufactured misunderstanding and plays it for the tiresome chuckle that is ad nauseam to boot. Plus, Alex has her romantic ambivalence as she insists on playing footsies with her dreamy but doltish boytoy (Matt LeBlanc from TV’s Friends).

The convoluted plot, if it isn’t being force fed to the audience in heavy-handed droves, finds the Angels trying to apprehend a pair of rings that when joined together can ominously expose all the names listed within the federal witness protection program.

As absurd as that sounds, the storyline becomes juicier when perturbed ex Angel Madison Lee (Demi Moore) flirts with the dark side and schemes to snatch the very same revealing rings that our hottie heroines are trying to retrieve as well. You see the shapely fortysomething Madison harbors a nasty grudge against her former boss Charlie and her bad disposition only fuels her contempt for striking back at everything she once valued.

Moore’s Madison comes off as a feisty butch whose angry Grrrl tendencies tries to heighten the sympathetic vibes we feel for our conformist men-craving honey-bunny crimebusters Natalie, Dylan and Alex. One has to admit that Moore’s Madison is a colorful buffed up renegade and loosely is a flippant slap in the face at the militant stance of feminism in its grandest scathing.

In addition to the presence of Moore’s Madison as a resentful Angel who gladly clipped her own wings rather than toil faithfully for "the unappreciative Man", the movie parades out other villains that range from either being too outlandish to stomach to simply being yet another unnecessary delusional distraction in a silly-minded stew that already includes too many arbitrary ingredients.

Seamus O’Grady (Justin Theroux) is the prototypical one-dimensional Irish mobster out for revenge and one-time lover of Dylan who had no choice but to help imprison him. Robert Patrick (the resilient morphing villain from Terminator II) plays duplicitous Justice Department official Ray Carter. And Crispin Glover (Willard) returns as the Thin Man that contributes to his notoriously thin role.

For all the robust and cheeky material that’s packed into this frolicking display, Full Throttle ironically comes off as rather flimsy. Sure, the movie is a barrage of boisterous vignettes energized by nonsensical yet free-spirited action sequences that include an awestruck motocross stunt and other eye-opening high-wire scenes that add to the merriment of the madness. And the showy fight scenes and disguise demonstrations are meant to toast the cheesy smirk of its intentional put upon platitudes.

Yet with all the frenetic flourishes that McG desperately pours into this busty buddy-action farce, Full Throttle feels like an elaborate yesteryear Charlie’s Angels television rerun overloaded with campy anecdotal elements waiting for the masses to approve of its pseudo-spunky overdrive.

Whether having Diaz, Barrymore and Liu shaking their physical goodies all over the place in some gaudy musical show or allowing them to wreak havoc to the hysterical visual landscape that McG captures their exploits in, Full Throttle is just another excuse to deliver another random hyperactive fleshy fable and pass it off as a mainstream mega-snack.

From a technical standpoint, Full Throttle lives up to its name as the movie languishes so convincingly in its overly saturated opulence. The movie also has a merry old time referencing other treasured cinema and television shows instead of concentrating on its own erratic existence. The lead starlets Diaz, Barrymore and Liu all seem to be having fun in this cavorting action-oriented caper.

It’s too bad that they focus more on prancing about as divisive dolls as opposed to instilling this raunchy romp with some semblance of grounded characterization. Mac is inherently hilarious as the Angels/Charlie’s reliable Man Friday but this jittery expose doesn’t give him much to do in showcasing his comical craftiness. Regrettably, Mac is reduced to playing a chaperone for a privileged teenaged tyke (Shia LeBeouf from Holes) in a lingering subplot.

When the movie isn’t going through the usual motions of having the Angels play dress up by passing them off as strippers, nuns, surfers, hot dog vendors or cabaret dancers then the proceedings become more tedious with the insistence of brief celebrity appearances that include the likes of Bruce Willis, the Olsen Twins, Pink, Carrie Fisher, Robert Forster, Eric Bogosian, etc. Heck, even Cannonball Run was more subtle and clever in its usage of camera-hogging participants than what Full Throttle lamely pulls off here.

Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle is nothing but jolting and jazz-up junk food and it certainly knows it. Every frame of this over-hyped flick is played to the hilt and it doesn’t bother apologize for its frothy foolishness. In a way, that’s something to be admired. But in an age where this kind of intentionally laughable guilty pleasure is bound to draw attention and big bucks, McG’s noisy narrative never manages to uplift the fluff so that it at least has some descriptive and stimulating nuttiness that’s effortlessly amusing.

Plain and simple, this pulsating patchwork of bouncing boobs and other kinetic kitschy inclinations may seem like a sure fire way to start your eventful summer sizzling at the movies.

However, it would be a grave mistake to interpret Barrymore’s vanity piece as sizzle without noting the "reel" deal of it being just another excitable and intrusive fizzle. Nevertheless, there will be those who’ll blindly appreciate the "cleavage carnage" mantra in its glorious hormonal entirety.

Hmmm…so much for the heavenly high jinks that Charlie and his delicious diva-minded Angels bring to the forefront, huh?

Frank Ochieng

(c) Frank Ochieng 2003

Magazine > Feature articles

Just in | Library of feature articles

Add daily news updates to your own web site or blog - just cut and paste the code below...


Post your comments


Warning: include(../../../comments/lib/2004/ failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /home/hunt0799/public_html/articles/features/2004/Charlies-Angels-Full-Throttle-Franks-Take-5606.php on line 29

Warning: include(../../../comments/lib/2004/ failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /home/hunt0799/public_html/articles/features/2004/Charlies-Angels-Full-Throttle-Franks-Take-5606.php on line 29

Warning: include(): Failed opening '../../../comments/lib/2004/' for inclusion (include_path='.:/opt/php54/lib/php') in /home/hunt0799/public_html/articles/features/2004/Charlies-Angels-Full-Throttle-Franks-Take-5606.php on line 29

The all-new SFcrowsnest is now running at This is now the archive for pre-2012 content. Nothing new is being posted here.

Magazine Articles

- Features

- Movie/TV Reviews

- Book Reviews

- News

- E-mail magazine

- Encyclopedia

- Other formats: Kindle, Nook, Sony Ebook, iPhone & iPod


- Top books

- Top movies/tv series


- SciFi @ FaceBook

- Steampunk @ FaceBook

- Us @ Google+


- Search site

Reader Tools

- RSS news feed

- Facebook page for SFcrowsnest

- Twitter page for SFcrowsnest

- Google toolbar for SFcrowsnest

Webmaster Tools

- Add our content feeds to your site