Not to take anything away from the ass-kicking prowess of comely action stars Cameron Diaz, Lucy Liu, and Drew Barrymore, but the best fight I saw at a sneak peek of Charlie’s Angels last week was between two flabby middle-aged men. When a terribly unfunny radio flack started handing out promo T-shirts five minutes before showtime, just about the entire SRO audience charged the front of the theater. In the middle of this voracious mob, two pudgy pugilists—one black, one white—started shoving each other in awkward playground style. Frantic that the supply of shirts (ironically, way too XXS for these chumps) was dwindling, the white dude clamped down on the black dude’s throat, forcing the chokee to pop the choker square in the kisser. Then the brawlers’ dates showed up—not exactly dainty themselves—and started jawing at each other. Sadly, just when the brouhaha was getting really good, the lights dimmed, and everyone just kinda ambled back to their seats. (Important footnote: When I looked around to see who else was enjoying the fisticuffs, I spotted a catatonic Arch Campbell staring blankly into the ether. Very creepy.) Disjointed, derivative, and much too Matrix-happy, Charlie’s Angels somehow manages to be sexy, stylish, and, with the exception of 20 The Avengers-bad minutes, a pretty good time as well. (Note to stuffy bastards: If the techno-pop, MTV-savvy previews made you even the slightest bit nauseated, then stay the hell away—that’s what this flick is all about. However, if you, like me, were rather amused by those hip commercials, not to mention the sight of hammy-to-the-max actors making shit go ka-boom, then prepare for a guilty-pleasure good time.) Although Barrymore is a tad frumpy to be one of Charles Townsend’s karate-trained (no guns allowed) operatives, Liu and Diaz (well, actually Diaz’s fanny, which garners significantly more screentime than her mug) will undoubtedly make Mses. Fawcett, Jackson, and Smith jiggle with glee. Although somewhat bloated and sleepy as Bosley, Bill Murray peps up for at least a few minutes and provides big laughs when he goes undercover as John David Rage, self-help guru. The plot is an unintentionally tangled mess involving stolen “voice-identification software,” but a goofy twist 45 minutes in nicely wipes the slate clean, allowing the half-nekkid crimefighters to beat up the bad guys—and the crowd to mindlessly watch first-time director (and former video helmsman) McG’s pretty pictures whiz by. For what it’s worth, a good three-quarters of the young crowd stood and—earnestly—wa-hooed! at film’s end. (Arch Campbell, however, just kept staring.)

—Sean Daly