It may pass the Bechdel test with ease but it's difficult to argue that Full Throttle subverts the male gaze when director McG can't peel his lens off Cameron Diaz's butt. Instead, it preaches the Cyndi Lauper gospel: girls just wanna have fun, and dammit, they'll make you have fun, too – even if it's at the cost of a coherent narrative. So, while Charlie's Angels – Diaz, Drew Barrymore and Lucy Liu – must track down two rings containing classified witness-protection info, they don't seem to be in a particular rush to save the world. More movies should take time out from matters of global importance to, say, enrol in a burlesque show, or stage an impromptu dance sequence at a high school reunion.
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Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle never gives you a chance to be bored; it bombards you with absurd set pieces in a desperate bid to distract you from its myriad deficiencies. The action has an allergy to physics; the movie opens with the Angels piloting a helicopter out of a falling truck and then starts to get silly. One scene sees the girls track down a target in a motocross race, complete with a zero-gravity, trick-filled shoot-out. It is one of the few movies with a street luge sequence. And monster trucks. And wrestling. And a roller derby. Also a sexy carwash coda set to Journey's Any Way You Want It. It's as if nobody told McG that he didn't have to use every idea that was pitched in the movie's first creative brainstorm. One suspects that, miraculously, his office bin would have been empty.
And that cast! Full Throttle is a celebrity conveyor belt. Bruce Willis! Joey from Friends! The T-1000! Demi Moore! Legendary Hungarian gymnastics coach Béla Károlyi! The Olsen twins! P!nk! The lead singer of Barenaked Ladies, apparently! Justin Theroux and the worst Irish accent ever ("I'm going te teach ye and yer free-yends about pee-yen!")! Jaclyn Smith aka an actual Charlie's Angel! Carrie Fisher! A picture of Bill Murray! Party Boy from Jackass! Melissa McCarthy! The Wilson brother who isn't Luke Wilson or Owen Wilson! Luke Wilson! The only person in this movie who isn't famous is Shia LaBeouf.
Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle may not be as dumb as it pretends to be; it mocks the CSI-style super-deductions based on easily traceable clues that movies such as The Dark Knight and Skyfall still rely on. But then it'll drop a Batman & Robin style one-liner that even Roger Moore would be ashamed of (Liu, after Demi Moore's villain is incinerated: "She is so fired!"). Has a bad movie ever embraced its own ridiculousness quite so energetically? Had it been marketed as a spoof à la Black Dynamite, critics might have got onside; as it is, Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle remains an airheaded Day-Glo cheesefest and a very guilty pleasure – but one that'll still be preferable to whatever frowny-faced drama Hollywood can cook up for Black Widow and her gal pals.