In High Praise of Cameron Diaz as Both an Angel of Charlie’s and a Profound Ornithologist

You’ll never think of Carmel, California in the same way again.

CHARLIE'S ANGELS, Cameron Diaz, 2000
Courtesy Everett Collection

It is Charlie’s Angels’ reboot weekend, this we know.

But it is also Charlie’s Angels remembrance weekend, particularly for those of an age who grew up knowing 2000’s film edition of the franchise starring Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore and Lucy Liu. And there is a moment, which is unfortunately proving difficult to track down online, in this McG-directed movie that is low-key fucking brilliant.

Here is how it goes: Bill Murray’s character, Bosley, is trapped in a castle spire at an as-yet-determined point on the California coastline. He has been kidnapped. Peril abounds.

Back at HQ, Diaz’s Natalie, Barrymore’s Dylan and Liu’s Alex have nearly died in a terrible explosion. (An explosion complete with a very stylistically turn-of-the-millenium slo-mo fallout, with all three stars landing—perfectly—on a vintage car’s windshield).

In the rubble, the girls, big surprise, find the radio that they use to communicate with Charlie. Murray as Bosley has tapped into the channel, and is sending out an SOS. In a Hail Mary pass, Murray asks a bird on his window ledge to “tell them where I am.” The bird warbles.

Diaz lets out an excited sigh, a non-verbal equivalent to “I got this.”

Diaz then mimics the birdsong, and with an absolutely extraordinary amount of earnestness, says: “It’s a Sitta pygmaea!!!!!! A pygmy nuthatch! They only live in one place!!!!!”

A pygmy nuthatch is ensnared in a mist net in Tahquitz Canyon on June 22, 2009. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

Myung J. Chun

Barrymore and Liu, with hellfire and mortar burning around them, are so seriously entranced by Diaz’s ebullient methodology of ornithological practice that they are literally hinging on her answer.

Diaz lets out an obscenely hopeful: “CARMEL!!!!!!” She is a very important genius, at this point, both in an avian academic respect and at acting. The mystery is solved and they’re on there way.

In the end, though, it’s all stagecraft. The Pygmy Nuthatch itself is a gray and dowdy little thing, but the bird that speaks to Diaz, through Murray’s mouth, is bigger, sleeker, and more colorful. People on the internet think the bird in the movie is a “Troupial,” which does not make its home anywhere near Carmel. Also, the real Pygmy Nuthatch is found in many places, not just Carmel. And finally, it apparently does not sound like the catfish-Pygmy Nuthatch that saves the day.

But all the same, if ever you find yourself in an awkward moment of silence and need to reach some sort of resolution, just shout it out, with as much vim and vigor as you can muster: “Carmel!!!”

Related: Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, Lucy Liu and Demi Moore Had a Charlie’s Angels Reunion