D.E.B.S. (2004) / Action-Comedy
MPAA Rated: PG-13 for sexual content, language and some violence
Running Time: 91 min.
Cast: Sara Foster, Jordana Brewster, Meagan Good, Jill Ritchie, Devon Aoki, Michael Clarke Duncan, Holland Taylor, Jimmi Simpson, Geoff Stults, Jessica Cauffiel
Director: Angela Robinson
Screenplay: Angela Robinson
Review published February 28, 2005
Some might call this trash, while others might call it a satire on trash. Whichever you call it, it's not very good as either. D.E.B.S. is a mish-mash of many other films aimed at teens, from Charlie's Angels to Agent Cody Banks, except in this case, with a lesbian twist. Although the girls in the film are clearly women, their puppy love speaks of first-time crushes, so my best guess is that writer-director Angela Robinson sees a niche for teen lesbian films, and has chosen to exploit it to the fullest degree. Sadly, even as a provocative sex romp, this is awfully lame stuff, with only very superficial appeal for people who are easily titillated by anything and everything in a short skirt.
In the world of D.E.B.S., there is a secret organization that culls females based on some hidden questions in the SAT that measures their propensity to lie, cheat and steal -- the perfect agents of espionage. Those who score high are invited to join, and they undergo several years of training to be the perfect spies. The movie focuses on a squad of four of these D.E.B.S. -- Amy (Sara Foster, The Big Bounce), Max (Meagan Good, Deliver Us from Eva), Dominique (Jill Ritchie, Breakin' All the Rules), and Janet (Devon Aoki, Sin City). The D.E.B.S. main nemesis is Lucy Diamond (Jordana Brewster, The Fast and the Furious), a world-renown terrorist and overall bad person, or at least, that's how she is painted within the D.E.B.S. dossier. Complications arise when Amy and Lucy meet and form an attraction for one another, causing both to question whether or not their side is worth fighting for when love is on the line.
I could spell out all of the ways that D.E.B.S. fails, but I'm at a loss at where to begin such a lengthy list. For brevity, I'll stick to a select few major ones.
First, D.E.B.S. is a spoof on films that are already spoofs. Charlie's Angels, Austin Powers, Agent Cody Banks, Spy Kids, and hell, even If Looks Could Kill, all share one common trait, other than they are about spies -- they are also all spy spoofs that are lampooned heavily by D.E.B.S. When you spoof something that's already a spoof, you almost always cancel out all claims to be an original satire, because you're too late to the game. D.E.B.S. adds nothing funny or clever to the already established sub-genre, and whatever humor the film attempts falls flat on its face time and again.
The only thing that D.E.B.S. brings of its own is the lesbian relationship between one of the representatives of good, Amy, and evil, Lucy. Spy films have long established that the hero and villain can, and often do, have an attraction for one another. The James Bond series is virtually built on this premise, but very few mainstream films have ventured into same-sex pairings (So Close is the only one that comes readily to my mind). While this could make D.E.B.S. interesting in premise, the actual execution of these events are just as inept as the rest of it. In fact, the lesbian hook so disingenuously sensationalized, it borders on offensive at just how phony it all seems.
Here's the part where I might start getting into trouble, but hey, when has that stopped me from speaking my mind? By going for the PG-13 rating, the makers of this film made this too tame for those with prurient interests, which begs the question -- why? The answer just may lie in the fact that it has all the looks and marketing to appeal to children, but this also seems like a dumb decision. Not many parents, or at least not many who actually look at what their kids watch, will probably allow their kids anywhere near it. I say, if you're going to make an exploitative hot lesbian film, go all the way for the hard R rating. Otherwise, it looks like the aim of the movie is to titillate children, and if that's the goal, this might be even more offensive than just being a bad film.
D.E.B.S. started off in its original incarnation as a ten-minute short film made for Sundance, and if you ask me, it probably should have stayed that way. This movie is really just a small skit stretched out into a full-length feature with nothing added, save for more horrendous dialogue and ridiculously ill-conceived situations. Unless you're a masochistic fetishist who is willing to actually sit through any amount of bad acting, atrocious direction, and ham-handed screenwriting in order to see a few seconds of nubile young lipstick lesbians in schoolgirl outfits smoking and making out, I'd say, avoid this fetid waste of celluloid and maintain some dignity and sanity.
In the story, D.E.B.S. stands for "Discipline, Energy, Beauty and Strength", but I certainly would never utilize any of those words to describe this movie. Considering the fact this movie will only appeal for those too young to rent a porno, I'm dubbing D.E.B.S. as "Desperate Entertainment for a Boy with a Sock".
©2005 Vince Leo