Fifteen years ago this week, Charlie’s Angels hit theaters and updated the classic ’70s TV series for the big screen and for the new millennium.
The film featured three new Angels – Dylan (Drew Barrymore), Natalie (Cameron Diaz) and Alex (Lucy Liu) – kicking bad guy butt and having a great time while doing it. Charlie’s Angels proved successful enough that it spawned a sequel, 2003’s Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle, and perhaps most importantly enough, it proved movie-goers would be down for an all-female team of action heroes.
We’d still be down for a Charlie’s Angels 3, but in the meantime we’re going to look back on some of the reasons that made this first movie so great – and some of the life lessons we can learn from it.
1. Martial arts look cooler than guns
Barrymore, who also produced the film in addition to starring as bad girl Dylan, opted to ditch the guns used in the original TV series – and famously in the iconic Charlie’s Angels silhouette logo – and had the new Angels fight bad guys with martial arts. It’s not the most effective law enforcement strategy, sure, but it looked good.
2. Have a game face and wear it proudly
When you’re using punches and kicks against bad guys with guns, a little intimidation can’t hurt. This is a good strategy in less life-or-death situations as well.
3. Be upfront with your intentions
In one of the more badass action hero scenes ever, Dylan gets captured but then explains in great detail to the goons watching her how she plans to escape – with her hands tied behind her back, no less. Then she does exactly like she said, even down to Moonwalking out of the room. Can’t say she wasn’t honest.
4. Beautiful women can make passable dudes
One thing the movie had plenty of, in addition to martial arts? Costumes – including reverse drag in one scene. Diaz, it turns out, doesn’t look half bad as a man. Whodathunkit?
5. Dancing can cure stress
Natalie has what most would deem a tough job, what with people shooting at her on a daily basis and all. If she can still cut loose, so can we. Bonus lesson: Dance like a dork and do it proudly.
Drew Barrymore Shares Her Favorite Childhood Memories
6. But dancing in groups is better
Have you ever noticed how much dancing these three do in this movie? And how all of them keep a sunny disposition despite being in constant danger? And how great they look in those outfits?
7. Don’t underestimate the power of a hair flip
All it takes is one casual hair flip for Natalie to catch the eye of Luke Wilson’s character – she just needs a reminder to do it. That’s what friends are for.
8. Give your all when you’re on the job
Dylan needs to distract a driver long enough for Alex to pull off a sneaky move as part of a mission, and so she has to flirt like there’s no tomorrow. “Do you like fast cars?” the driver asks. “I like fast everything,” Dylan giggles, before she licks the steering wheel in one of the most over-the-top flirting moves in the history of film. The woman deserves an employee of the month award – and an antiseptic rinse.
9. There’s nothing unfeminine about being strong
It’s worth noting that 15 years ago, before anyone knew what a Katniss Everdeen was, this one movie offered three tough, capable action heroes who also happened to be feminine. The two qualities don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
10. And women don’t have to be in competition with each other
Dylan, Natalie and Alex each have their strong suits, but whereas many movies that focus on the relationships between women end up bidding those women against each other, the Charlie’s Angels heroines work together. They don’t always agree, but their friendship and camaraderie comes wins out.
11. There’s something to be said for having the perfect song
The lead single for the movie soundtrack was “Independent Women, Pt. 1,” by Destiny’s Child, and there couldn’t have been a more spot-on theme song for a movie. (Beyoncé would later reveal that her father, who was at this point still her manager, submitted the song for use on the soundtrack without her permission. And while that little backstory may fly in the face of the whole “independent woman” thing, the song still works.)
12. Remakes need not be gritty
Perhaps this is more a life lesson for Hollywood execs, but it’s a good one for movie-goers to know as well: When you take a classic TV show and transform it into a movie, you don’t have to strip away all the elements that seem cheesy by modern standards. Charlie’s Angels embraced the campier aspects of the original Aaron Spelling series – and the film raked in a cool $264 million.
13. Underoos can be sexy
This may not be news to you, but this clip of Diaz’s Natalie getting her groove on in her dorky underwear should serve as proof in case you don’t think it’s possible.
14. Feeling your look today? Own it
Take a page from the Book of Lucy.
15. Don’t be too eager to spoil the mystery
In the movie’s final scene, the victorious Angels celebrate on the beach along with Bosley (Bill Murray) and the always-heard-but-never-seen Charlie, who’s once again present via a speaker. Dylan notices an older guy walking nearby, talking on his cell phone, and we’re led to assume that this probably is Charlie himself, but Dylan lets him preserve his anonymity. It’s his thing, after all.
By the way, it was announced in September that Elizabeth Banks may direct a new Charlie’s Angels movie. If it happens, let’s hope Banks’s time working with the Pitch Perfect movies helps her make another movie about tough women working together.