Friday, April 3, 2009

Carlito's Angels (2003)

Directed by Augustin
Starring Evly G Pacheco, Alessandra Ramos, Jeni Garcia
Rated R
USA

"And my fat ass landlord? Yo, he knows exactly where I live."

Sometimes you just stumble upon an idea that's so right, so absolutely perfect, that you wonder why no one's done it before. The singularly named Augustin had that very epiphany one day, and this is the glorious result. A Charlie's Angels spoof featuring three gum snappin', smack talkin', hot pants wearing Latina hussies? Brother, you couldn't sign me up for this one fast enough. I woulda funded the thing myself, if they asked. I mean, dig this premise, if you will: Roxy (Elvy Pacheco), the slutty one; Tina (Alessandra Ramos), the baby machine; and Marisol (Jeni Garcia), the stoner, are three drop-dead sexy hood rats holding court in the projects of the Bronx. When they're not getting' high, wrecking marriages, avoiding angry landord Big Lou (Raymond Raynosa), or just hanging out on the corner and jiggling their bits around, they are doing 'jobs' for one Carlito, a mysterious, never seen Latino uberboss, dispatching his top secret missions from his jail cell.

Of course, the perilous endeavors he entrusts them to carry out aren't all that complicated- his one request in the entire film is that the Angels find out which white girl a local married Spanish gangster is banging on the side- but the girls manage to turn them into screwball misadventures anyway.

The plot revolves around The Angel's fateful trip to a local strip club (to find the white girl, natch), where they unwittingly uncover a scheme to fix "The numbers". Dunno what 'numbers' they mean, but the whole neighborhood appears to have a
stake in 'em, so they must be important. I'm getting ahead of myself, tho. First, they have to actually get IN the strip club.

Roxy: But it costs 20 dollars to get in there!
Marisol: 20 dollars? Uh-uh. That's two dime bags!

In a cunning move (on director Augustin's part, if not the Angels), the girls sneak up on the 'featured dancer', drag her in the alley, beat her to a pulp, and steal her stripper clothes. Which they then put on, naturally. Then they saunter into the club and gamely, but disastrously, pretend to be dancers, in a scene that's like an R-rated episode of I Love Lucy, or something. Between stealing make-up, cheating the other strippers in dice, and starting brawls with the paying customers, they forget their mission completely, but stumble into a labyrinthine plot to swindle the neighborhood out of their hard-earned gambling money. And so, the Angels spring into action.

Well, sort of. Mostly they get into screaming matches with the angry girlfriends of the guys they've been doing, dart around corners with their fingers in the air like they're pointing imaginary guns, have pillow fights, and change into a never ending array of jaw dropping outfits.

Oh, and they smoke pot and say "Whatevah!" and "Oh, no, you didn't!" a lot. When they do actually come up with some kind of a plan, it backfires completely- they hunt down Big Lou, but the only muscle they can find to put the hurt on him is Little Lou (Glen Foster) a dwarf, who Lou merely chortles at. "Ha ha, you're mini me!" Lou-the-fat-landord laughs, as Lou-the-dwarf swings wildly at his face. Luckily, they try plan B- plying Lou with pizza- and it works a charm. Why do ya think they call him "Big" Lou, anyway?

The Angels do eventually save the day, of course, in one of those screwball, Benny Hill kinda endings, and everybody ends up at Paco's (Casper Martinez) annual block party and barbeque, where they all (dwarf included) mud wrestle happily aver after.

Ok, so my Latina fetish helps, but this is still very close to the most fun I've had watching a movie in my goddamn life. The characters are great, the actresses are hilarious and completely believable (and muy caliente), the action fast and frenetic, and the whole film just exudes a sense of goofy, good-natured fun that's infectious. Sure, not all of the gags work- a gang fight turns into a film-within-a-film scene that's more confusing than funny, and there's the sudden appearance of a half-assed Boy Blunder that'll have you scratching your head and wondering how the fuck that stayed in the script- but for the most part, Carlito's Angels is a witty, sexy, engaging spoof that's sure to sleaze and please.

I would have bet the proverbial farm that director Augustin would have gone on to bigger, slicker, car-crashier urban-action flicks after this one. He clearly had the panache, and from the awesome cling-clang king of the Rim-Ram Room bullshit he spouted on the DVD's making of featurette ("I don't make movies to make money. If I wanted to make money, I'd work on Wall Street, or at Sears."), he had the right attitude, as well. But alas, he zagged, and went into Spanish language TV production. As to the Angels themselves, Ramos has done some TV drama (Law and Order), but for the most part, this was their big moment. A sequel seems unlikely, but hope springs eternal.

Availability: Carlito's Angels is available on DVD.

- Ken McIntyre

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