While we wait for the anticipated Charlie’s Angels reboot to hit theaters later this year, it’s the perfect time to revisit the 2000 film. The movie starred three of the biggest names at the time: Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz, and Lucy Liu and featured some of the best fashion and music of the early aughts. It was a film that proved women could fight crime just as well as James Bond, and look way better doing it.
Barrymore, Diaz, and Liu played the “Angels” (Dylan, Natalie, and Alex, respectively) who were employed by the mysterious Charles Townsend, aka Charlie. The Barrymore-produced film was a reboot of the original 1970s show that famously starred voluminously-coiffed Farrah Fawcett, Kate Jackson, and Jaclyn Smith. It was a first of its kind series that depicted three strong female leads, in the midst of the second wave feminist movement.
When Charlie's Angels the film was released over 20 years after the series, there still weren’t many mainstream action movies, (let alone action-comedies) that were led by women. It would be a year before Angelina Jolie would kick ass in Tomb Raider and a few years before Uma Thurman would play a one-woman killing machine in Kill Bill. So, while the flying-in-the-air, “wire fu” fight scenes on Charlie’s Angels were campy and ridiculous, it was empowering to see a group of women kicking major ass and owning their sexuality at the same time.
The ass-kicking scenes were only made better by the clear chemisty between the trio. When Barrymore began looking for her fellow Angels, she called Diaz up with a proposition that was hard to resist. “Drew called me up and said, ‘I'm doing 'Charlie's Angels' and you have to do it with me,'' Diaz said at the time. “It will be girls jumping out of helicopters, driving fast boats, doing kung fu, and wearing tons of hot clothes.” Diaz was immediately on board, but they needed to find their third. “We saw a lot of great girls but the chemistry was missing,” Diaz explained. “And then Lucy came into the room and we just went, ‘She's the one.’” Nearly 20 years later, Liu, Barrymore, and Diaz are still friends and most recently reunited for Liu’s Walk of Fame ceremony.
The movie also delivered on the promise of “tons of hot clothes.” The original Charlie’s Angels series was criticized for its camp factor and overt sexiness, but these are the two elements that the film embraced. Working as undercover agents meant plenty of opportunity for the Angels to dress up in disguise. Some of the costumes, which were designed by Joseph G. Aulisi, are hard to forget, like the bright blue racetrack jumpsuits and German dirndl dresses. In addition to the more problematic looks like their belly dancer costumes, complete with bindis, and Barrymore in brown face. While those scenes certainly don't stand up two decades later, Aulisi told the L.A. Times that the film was a “designer’s dream.” The style, from Barrymore’s bohemian vibes, to Diaz’s flared denim and baby tees, to Liu in a leather skirt suit, captures 2000s fashion at its prime.
What really brought the movie together though, was its unforgettable girl power soundtrack. You might remember the standout tune: "Independent Women Pt. I,” sang by that other legendary trio, Destiny’s Child. The song, which was later included in the group’s album Survivor, quickly became an empowering female anthem. It spent 11 consecutive weeks on the Billboard 100, making it the group’s longest-reigning hit, and was nominated for a Grammy. The music video pays tribute to the movie, with Beyoncé, Kelly Rowland, and Michelle Williams undergoing secret agent training at the “Charlie’s Angels Boot Camp.”
Director Elizabeth Banks has already said the upcoming reboot is lessening the camp, but with Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott, and Ella Balinska as the new Angels, the film is already bringing some much needed diversity to the franchise. With a theme song by Lana Del Rey, Miley Cyrus, and Ariana Grande, it looks like they've already got the soundtrack right. Let's hope they nail the style.