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Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle

Once upon a time, there were three little girls who used to make home movies in their backyard on summer afternoons, improvising amateurish, self-glamorizing adventure stories, and filling them out with a few silly costumes and props cobbled together with whatever budget their allowance money would permit. Fast-forward 20 years and change a few details, and we have a reasonable description of 2003's Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle: three grown-up girls making a slick, self-glamorizing summer-tentpole Hollywood movie padded out with sexy outfits and kung fu and celebrity cameos, all on a $120 million budget. And if that bottom-line sounds a little steep, it probably was — CAFT grossed $100 million domestically, leaving it to foreign and home-video revenues to make up the difference. But Sony likely will fund another Angels extravaganza, banking on the formula that made the 2000 original a breakout hit. Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, and Lucy Liu return as Natalie, Dylan, and Alex, three super-sleuths in the employ of one Charles Townsend (John Forsythe). After an opening sequence that makes an unmistakable nod towards the 007 series, the ladies are given their latest mission — recover a missing pair of rings stolen from a murdered Justice Department official that contain crucial data on Witness Protection Program informants. The search leads our tart trio to a surfer's beach and motocross competition before they latch on to Irish mob boss Seamus O'Grady (Justin Theroux), who, um, also used to date Dylan and is fairly determined to kill her. But the conspiracy doesn't end with O'Grady — former angel Madison Lee (Demi Moore) appears to have her own agenda. Those who enjoyed the first Angels movie will find little to dislike in this outing, which is simply more of the same, just on a somewhat grander scale. The angels still don't use guns, relying on their physics-be-damned brand of wire-fu, and they get to prove their mettle in a helicopter, on motorcycles, and on the waves. Matt LeBlanc, Luke Wilson, and Crispin Glover return from the first film, John Cleese and Bernie Mac join the cast of regulars, and Jason Patrick and Demi Moore take up supporting roles (and yes, Moore looks stunning). And hey, if you're going to have a party, why not invite your friends? Bruce Willis, Carrie Fisher, Andrew Wilson, and Jaclyn Smith appear in brief scenes, while one very funny throwaway gag features a pair of famous (and very wealthy) twins who could become blonde angels themselves someday. Full Throttle certainly deserves its knocks: It's nothing more than boilerplate filmmaking with a thick coat of glittery nail-polish. Because nothing comes as a surprise, it's never all that suspenseful. And Cameron Diaz's bubble-headed sex-object Natalie is either a throwback to the ingenuous Monroe mystique or another notch in the long-drawn-out decline of modern feminism. If you are determined not to like it, you won't. But as summer escapism, it's a DVD spin that could warm up the coldest of winter nights. Columbia TriStar's DVD release of Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle features a clean anamorphic transfer (2.35:1) with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Features include a Telestrator commentary with director McG, a second commentary with screenwriters John August, Cormac Wibberly and Marianne Wibberly, eight featurettes, a "cameo-graphy" with links to the film's many cameo appearances, a "jukebox" with links to selected songs, a Pink/William Orbit music video, filmographies, trailers, and DVD-ROM content. Keep-case.

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