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CHARLIE'S ANGELS: FULL THROTTLE
Unrated Special Edition

Review by Michael Jacobson

Stars:  Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, Lucy Liu, Bernie Mac, Crispin Glover, Justin Theroux, Robert Patrick, Demi Moore
Director:  McG
Audio:  Dolby Digital 5.1
Video:  Anamorphic Widescreen 2.40:1
Studio:  Columbia Tri Star
Features:  See Review
Length:  107 Minutes
Release Date:  October 21, 2003

“Hmm, the Treasure Chest…do a little dance?”

“Make a little love?”

“Get down tonight.”

Film ***

Halo again…the Angels are back, and badder than ever!

I was always pleased to know there would be a sequel to Charlie’s Angels.  The first film was tongue-in-cheek, jaw-on-floor turbocharged fun; a B movie sensibility with an A budget.  Critics dismissed it, but I became a fan.  Anything that knowingly cheesy and breezy was way too charming for me to cast aside.

Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle is everything that made the first movie fun, but more so.  Director McG and his spirited trio of stars in Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore and Lucy Liu do more than just light a spark around a powder keg…they torch it with a flamethrower.

I thought the original picture’s opening scene was untouchable as far as sheer unbridled fun and chutzpah.  I was wrong.  This movie opens with a sequence that had me howling with laughter and clapping my hands with glee.  It was SO far over the top that it would need the Hubble to see down…but it was just the right blend of humor, action, and physics defying phenomena to set the tone for the picture.

The story this time involves the theft of two special rings.  Together, they create the government’s code for tracking everyone who entered the witness protection program.  A lot of very, very bad guys would like to get their hands on those pieces of jewelry.  Naturally, it’s up to Natalie (Diaz), Dylan (Barrymore) and Alex (Liu) to save the day.

This film is stylistic overkill from start to finish, and it works.  If the action isn’t pumping your adrenaline, the humor is tickling your funny bone.  When your eyes are agape with amusement, your hands will be clenched tightly as you hold on for the ride.  One gets the feeling that McG held nothing back…any idea that he could work with, he put in, from a spectacular (and delightfully improbable) motocross race to a street luge, from a monster truck to an impromptu grinding of a cable for a getaway.  And if you think the action will get your heart racing, wait until you see our heroines doing a striptease with the Pussycat Dolls.  Yow!

I guess I instinctively like movies like these because A) they’re a lot of mindless fun, and B) they have no pretension.  Nobody involved here thought they were making Russian Ark.  No artificial sense of dignity chained down the artists.  Nobody said “hey, that’s not possible under any know laws of physics!”  They just did it.

Oh, yes, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention a number of chuckle-inducing cameos in the movie.  At the same time, I’d be a villain if I spoiled them…you’ll have to see them for yourselves.

Full Throttle is exactly that.  The right leading ladies and the right director have proven twice so far to be an unstoppable combination.  I’m not sure where else McG can take this franchise, but he’s managed to surprise me twice so far, so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and say, bring on the next installment!

Video ****

This anamorphic transfer is typical Columbia Tri Star perfection.  With lots of screen detail and plenty of fast moving action and camerawork, this movie will make the most of your DVD players processing speeds.  Everything is extreme…McG laughs in the face of subtlety!  Details are strong and noticeable throughout, even though the CGI blends well with the live action.  A couple of edits are so cleanly done as to be barely noticeable!  The color palates are rich, bright, and full, and the harsh contrasts within scenes are handled without bleeding, distortion, or loss of integrity.  This is a feast for the eyes…enjoy!

Audio ****

Likewise, the 5.1 audio is an explosive treat.  Full, dynamic, and potent, the smooth crossover signals will keep you centered in the action, while the subwoofer makes you feel every explosion, crash or shot.  Dialogue is clean and clear, and the music is strong, too.  In fact, this movie boasts one of the most fun soundtracks of recent memory.  A very pleasurable listen!

Features ****

Neither Charlie nor Columbia Tri Star spared any expense in bringing the extras to this disc.  The unrated version, which is what we watched, even has a couple of bonuses for you, so here we go…

There are two commentary tracks, one with the writers, and one with McG using a telestrator.  The latter is the better listen, because McG is an enthusiastic host that guides you through the technical secrets you may not have picked up on!

There are 8 production featurettes detailing the costumes, the cars, the extreme sports elements, the Pussycat Dolls, and other behind the scenes goodies.  They feature interviews with McG, Diaz, Barrymore, Liu, Crispin Glover, Justin Theroux and others.  There is a music video from Pink and trailers for this and other CTS releases.

A “Angel Vision” trivia track will let you escape to other extras while watching the movie, while a “cameo-graphy” will take you to your favorite stars in bit parts.  A “Full Throttle” jukebox will take you to your favorite songs, as McG discusses why he picked them.

Rounding out are some DVD ROM extras and some cool animated menus.

Summary:

Girls just wanna have fun, but so does everyone else…if you can’t be a Charlie’s Angel, the next best kick is to watch them.  Full Throttle is everything we loved about the first film kicked into maximum overdrive.  This terrific DVD is a guaranteed good time.