'Angels' sequel too fluffy to take flight

By , Film critic of The Christian Science Monitor

"What's an angel like you doing so far from heaven?"

That question is addressed by a Mongolian bad guy to one of Charlie's angels, but we might pose the same query to the actresses who star in "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle," this week's hot movie sequel.

What are Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, Lucy Liu, and Demi Moore doing so far from the scenes of their former ... well, not triumphs exactly, but projects higher on the cultural scale than this bit of fluff?

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Whatever answers they might choose to give, the probable truth is that they've gone where the money is. And let's face it, the studio owes them that financial reward: Their spunky charms are the main - nay, the only - reason to see this hyperactive action-adventure farce.

As in the original TV series and the 2000 movie, Charlie's angels are three woman warriors whose enigmatic boss dispatches them on missions to fight evil foes. This time they must retrieve two metal rings encoded with secret information about a witness-protection program. Their enemies include an angel's former boyfriend, a handsome assassin, and a retired member of Charlie's flock who's thrown in her lot with the villains.

Like the 2000 picture, "Full Throttle" was directed by the filmmaker called McG, who speaks with pride of his background in the world of commercials and music videos. That's certainly a good training ground for movies like this, where what counts isn't the meanings or emotions of the story, just the moment-by-moment impact of each flashy shot. He's done his job with energy to spare, if little in the way of artistry.

All of the actresses are fun to watch, and as much attention appears to have been lavished on their outfits and hairdos as on their high-flying fight scenes. Also on hand are enough cameo appearances to keep stargazers and nostalgia buffs busy.

With those fashionable assets, look for "Full Throttle" to rake in dollars with a speed worthy of its title.

Rated PG-13; contains violence, sensuality, and smarmy double entendres.

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