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Charlie's Angels the latest in string of '70s TV shows made for big screen

Playing a newfangled variation on the sexy, fun-loving crime-fighting threesome immortalized in the classic '70s TV series of the same name, Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz and Lucy Liu kick some serious butt in Charlie's Angels (opening Nov. 3). The movie may be light on plot -- villains are out to kill the elusive Charlie, the unseen father-figure who runs the detective agency where the girls work -- but it's every bit as splashy and frenetic as you might expect, considering it's the first feature from one McG, a director whose music-video and television-commercial roots are fairly obvious.
So as not to divert too much of our attention from the star trio, the only other notable babe on view is Kelly Lynch (as a token bad girl). Otherwise, Bill Murray (as Bosley) heads an enigmatic supporting cast of men, which also includes Sam Rockwell, Matt LeBlanc, Crispin Glover, Tim Curry, LL Cool J and (apparently exercising her privilege as one of the movie's executive producers) not only Barrymore's current beau, MTV personality Tom Green, but also her ex, actor Luke Wilson.

The stars spoke about their updated Charlie's Angels during a recent press conference.

CL: Your director describes this as a movie all about "girl power." Would you agree?

DB: Well, it's about girl power, but we made the movie for boys, too. As women, I think we all felt this was a great opportunity to be the sort of superheroes who could race cars or speedboats, who could scuba-dive or jump out of airplanes, who could perform kung-fu or engage in primal hand-to-hand combat. To get the chance to do that is a major achievement, whether you're a man or a woman. What I liked about the original show, these women had a great camaraderie. They egged each other on, but there was a real lack of competition, and that's exactly what it was like between the three of us making the movie.

And yet a lot has been made of the fact that this was a "closed set." Why do you think it is a group of men can work together under those conditions without attracting much attention, but when a group of women work together like that, it sparks a lot of rumors about friction on the set?

LL:I think that has a lot to do with a social foundation we've all grown up with. Men who've never met before can hang out in a room together and watch a football game, and everything's very relaxed. With women, it's that whole soap-opera mentality of "Dynasty," you know? God forbid a woman could acknowledge another woman as being beautiful or smart without feeling jealous or threatened by it. It's been in our subconscious and we're all tuned into that, so when you have a closed set, people naturally believe something's going on worth gossiping about. It's an unfortunate statement about our society and about the way we think.

How do you explain this trend of movies based on old TV shows? Do you think it suggests a lack of daring on the part of moviegoers? A lack of originality on the part of moviemakers?

DB: I think there are certain franchises that just work for people. They're fun movies and they usually make a lot of money, so the studios want to continue making them. Sometimes, either the concept works or it doesn't. With Charlie's Angels, I think people have a real affinity and a personal relationship with the show. A lot of girls grew up playing the Angels, identifying with this one or that one. Men liked it because they saw women driving cars and having fun and solving crimes. I mean, obviously, it didn't hurt that the women were great-looking, but as much as they were in touch with their sexuality and femininity, it wasn't that male-bashing sort of feminism, and I think that was refreshing, too.

LL: The great thing about the film is that these are modern Angels as opposed to those '70s Angels. Things have changed culturally, with shows like "Ally McBeal" and "Sex in the City," where women are struggling to balance their careers with their love lives, where they're bread winners, too. The twist is that simple. Let's face it, this isn't Shakespeare. It's not deep or heavy or reflective. It's just fun.

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