Film Review – Charlie’s Angels, Bedazzled, Small Time Crooks, Flawless, The Grinch

Gazing At the Stars

(Originally published in TVS Magazine, December 2000)

Charlie’s Angels is the latest in a long line of movies adapted from television shows. Generally, these adaptations live up to the law of diminishing returns that also applies to sequels. Lost In Space, The Avengers and Flintstones are every bit as rubbish as Another 48 Hours, Candy Man 2 and Blair Witch Project: Book of Shadows. Why is there this need amongst producers to hamstring themselves before they’ve begun?

Still, Charlie’s Angels is also the latest in a long line of movies starring Cameron Diaz. Not all of them have been fantastic, but they all benefit enormously from her presence. Here she supplements her pinball smile with some serious ass-kicking, as well as her previously seen gift for comedy. There’s something about an incredibly beautiful woman goofing around that is inherently appealing, and she more or less carries this film on her own. Even Bill Murray (as Bosley) can’t match her.

Cameron Diaz defines ‘movie star’ more than anyone else does at the moment. Elizabeth Hurley seems to be one of the these as well, but her position is a lot more mysterious. A ‘movie star’ should be appealing in some way, and while La Hurley may be beautiful, everything else about her is hideously ugly. In Bedazzled she plays the role previously essayed by Peter Cook. Naturally, she doesn’t compare in wit, but the fact that she makes the notoriously wooden Cook look like Laurence Olivier is quite an achievement. Along with her recent run-ins with the American Actors’ Union, her deeply unpleasant Sloane Ranger voice and dimness akin to the light of suns galaxies away, she is sadly living proof that all you really need to get on is a good pair of tits.

Bedazzled isn’t totally hopeless but then it is almost entirely carried by Brendan Fraser, the male Cameron Diaz. One can’t help but feel that all films should star the two of them, but then writers and directors would get lazy, knowing that their input isn’t as important as the film’s stars. Well, lazier.

It’s hard to know how Woody Allen can get any lazier. Although he keeps up a busy workrate of a film a year, just about all his recent films have been about as sharp as 70s fashions. His latest, Small Time Crooks, is as dryly predictable as all the rest, right down to the supposed twist, lifted straight from his earlier Bullets Over Broadway. Still, it’s weird how Tracey Ullman hasn’t changed one bit in twenty years.

Neither has Joel Schumacher, despite his constant reinventions. ‘Flashy’ may as well be this director’s middle name as he seems incapable of producing anything with any depth. The latter Batman films are obvious but even when he’s trying to be edgy and introspective it still comes across as cheesy as two pounds of Edam. His earlier attempt, Falling Down, was an unpleasantly cynical attempt to appeal to a different audience; now his latest, Flawless, is as emptily shallow as a focus group, despite its author’s intentions to surf the current low-budget zeitgeist.

Schumacher may put more effort than most into varying his career but he is as lazy as Woody Allen in his attempts to do something unpredictable. This is magpie filmmaking at its worst, with Schumacher thinking he can get away with ideas nicked from other people. Despite a rather good performance from Phillip Seymour Hoffman as a morose gay guy (virtually the same thing he did in Boogie nights, which is probably why he was cast), Flawless is predictable, shallow and makes Ron Howard’s new film The Grinch look daring and introspective.

In it, Jim Carrey is virtually unrecognisable under a whole mound of make-up and latex. There is something inherently pleasing about burying possibly the world’s most famous and highly paid actor like this. Unfortunately, this may be the only reason to see the film.

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About klausjoynson
I'm a writer, editor, musician, DJ and cartoonist. Contact me at: klausjoynson(at)gmail.com or follow me on Twitter: @KlausJoynson

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