The cast of Charlie's Angels 2: Full Throttle came to New York last night for their premiere, but they left with tarnished halos.
The actresses — Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, and Lucy Liu — as well as their personal publicists, all perhaps sensing a critical trouncing despite a big box office, decided to keep the press far away.
It's always so lovely when the Hollywood people come to New York with their mediocre pictures and treat the press like a virus. They just don't get it. I will explain.
"We have to clear the way, keep this way clear," is what one security guard told us at the top of the aisle at the Sony Lincoln Square Theatre before the screening began.
Why he needed "this way clear" was because Drew Barrymore, dressed in a faded gray T-shirt that read "My Boyfriend Is Out of Town," barreled by with half a dozen bodyguards. This was after all invited guests were inside, so you knew it wasn't going to be a great night.
"Is she afraid of being mugged?" asked one guest.
Later, in front of a warehouse-like nightclub on West 21st Street, all the same invited guests were made to wait outside "until all the Angels are in," said a female security guard. It turned out that at the last minute Barrymore insisted a velvet rope be put up in the small club because she was "afraid of being deluged by people."
Said one guard: "Drew just wants to spend time with her family tonight."
The guard did not reflect on the fact that Barrymore most famously does not speak to her parents and has already burned through a couple of marriages by age 28. You kind of feel bad for her family at this point.
Nevertheless, the crowd — which grew and grew — waited while limos discharged the stars on to the street. Someone said, "Is there a VIP area inside?" The answer was no. But by the time Barrymore was done, the roped-off section was almost half the room. It was a like scene from It Happened One Night, except Barrymore is no Claudette Colbert.
"The girls felt like they've already worked very hard," explained a Columbia Pictures marketing person. Barrymore and Diaz each earned about $20 million for their six-week shoots. Liu got about $4 million. And they were exhausted.
One woman who did work hard was one of Demi Moore's assistants, who actually caught a man red-handed, videotaping the movie from his seat. (Shades of Kramer!) By the time she was able to call a guard, he was gone.
"I said, 'That's illegal'," she recalled later. "And he said, 'Who the hell are you?'"
Late to arrive at the party was Demi Moore, who quite frankly is the curiosity in this Charlie's Angels outing. She was with Ashton Kutcher, the 25-year-old actor from TV's That '70s Show whom Moore suddenly and quite publicly began to date when the Angels publicity machine needed a hook.
After a few minutes, Moore, who is 40, pulled Kutcher and some girlfriends out on the dance floor.
Only one problem: Kutcher does not dance. At 6'3", he lingered sort of Lurch-like, or lurched kind of lingeringly, while Moore boogied suggestively around him.
She looked like she was having a good time. Kutcher sort of hunched his shoulders and shuffled his feet. If there was a beat, he was unaware of it.
This wasn't the case for one of our favorite New York actors, Sam Rockwell, whom we know to be a dancing machine. Within seconds, Rockwell — on the other side of the dance floor — was in the swing of things.
The star of Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, as previously noted, should be a part-time teacher at an Arthur Murray studio. Demi — who looks sensational by the way — would have had a better time with him, no doubt.
But the Moore-Kutcher pairing is a publicity machine of its own, with its own rhyme and reason. Also present at the premiere, and seated right across the aisle from Kutcher, was Moore's ex-husband Bruce Willis.
Willis, you should know, has a small cameo at the start of Full Throttle, which means that he and Moore have one of the most successful divorces in Hollywood history.
If Moore is using the left-footed Kutcher temporarily for a press boost, Kutcher isn't exactly suffering. Although he seems bewildered by the whole Bruce/Demi thing, Ashton is said to have signed to do two movies in the last couple of days.
One is with Columbia Pictures, co-starring Angels star Bernie Mac and directed by Betty Thomas. The other is with Disney, directed by M. Night Shyamalan, the same director who's made two Bruce Willis pictures lately — The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable.
Is it a coincidence that Kutcher is now cutting deals within his new social circle? You'll have to ask him. I couldn't, because I — like reporters from the New York Times, Post, and Daily News — were all stuck on the other side of a velvet rope eating high-cholesterol snacks and watching high-spirited Columbia Pictures president Amy Pascal boogie to "Billie Jean."
Full Throttle did manage to pull some of the New York brass from Sony, including Sir Howard Stringer, Andrew Lack and Rob Wiesenthal. What those gentlemen made of the movie — which should really be referred to as an "entertainment" since it's not an actual film — is anyone's guess.
F.T. starts out with a lot of explosions in a confusing opening sequence, and then just gets more confusing. With money to burn — a rumored $150 million — director McG runs through many set pieces, all of which would be terrific music videos.
But there is little to no plot, absolutely no time is wasted on character development, and several occurrences are better left unquestioned. (No one sitting around me could figure out why there was a teenage boy in the movie.) Soon the whole thing, which wants to be exuberant and is a couple of times, gets snarled up in its own mess.
There are lots of cameos, a few of which worked. Carrie Fisher is hysterical as a nun in an episode designed to riff on The Sound of Music. Eric Bogosian is well-placed as a bad guy who gets killed off at the start. Willis appears, and even Madonna's real-life record exec Guy Oseary is listed in the credits.
The most puzzling thing is the waste of John Cleese as Lucy Liu's father (don't ask, since it's not explained). Crispin Glover also pops in, which made many of us wonder how exactly he makes a living. But that question will have to wait to be answered in the inevitable Charlie's Angels 3.