The film imagines that there's an entire wing of the national intelligence apparatus composed of nubile young women in tarty schoolgirl outfits (knee socks, plaid miniskirts, the whole bit) selected by how they answered questions buried in the SATs that secretly test for espionage aptitude. The starring quartet of hotties soon to graduate from the D.E.B.S. academy are: straight-A and dishwater dull Amy (Sara Foster, her blonde hair making her the star), chain-smoking and slutty Domique (Devon Aoki, sporting a respectable French accent), love-starved and not-too-bright underachiever Janet (Jill Ritchie) and their over-the-top bitchy leader Max (Meagan Good, trying too hard).
It's business as usual in the girls' sorority-house-like residence until they get called out on a stakeout of uber-villain Lucy Diamond (Jordana Brewster), whose crime ring is to D.E.B.S. what SPECTRE is to Bond and MI-6. After the stakeout - where the girls dangle high above Lucy, doing their nails, reading magazines - turns into a slo-mo shootout fiasco, Amy ends up in a John Woo-style faceoff with her nemesis, whom she ultimately lets escape. The twist in all this is that Lucy is not only gay but quite attracted to Amy, who has conveniently just broken up with her boyfriend (a square-jawed Homeland Security type) and is ripe for picking. The secret romance between the two slowly heats up in a pretty PG way (the PG-13 ratings seems mostly for language, and the fact that these girls spend a lot of time firing guns), to the point where Amy runs off with Lucy, faking that she's been kidnapped.
Now, just in case any of the above sounds like it'd be campy fun, be heartily assured that it is not. Writer/director Angela Robinson had a good idea here, taking the exploitative but oddly still pro-girl spycraft of Alias, making it a foursome, toning things down for a tweener audience eager to see spygirls who can still wear makeup and cute outfits, giving the whole thing an ironic wink and spiking it with a bubbly lesbian romance. The result, sadly, is something that would appeal to just about no audience. It's too slow-paced to interest tweens raised on Kim Possible (not to mention too potty-mouthed for their parents to approve of) and far more earnest than satire-craving hipsters would appreciate. Cameos by actual actors like Michael Clarke Duncan and Holland Taylor just make things worse.
One small bright spot in the film is Jordana Brewster, an actress of considerable gifts who's yet to find her niche. In The Invisible Circus she was tamped-down and hard to figure out, while in The Fast and the Furious she seemed to hide behind her beauty - here, she's a sleek, radiantly gorgeous figure who makes the rest of the film (not just the cast) look dowdy in comparison. When Robinson focuses on Brewster's Lucy trying to win Amy over - especially in one admittedly cute montage set to an Erasure song - the film drops its weak sense of irony and almost seems to get somewhere, but it's a fleeting success.
A perfect example of why short films with great premises should not necessarily be expanded to feature lengths, D.E.B.S. aims for bubblegum subversion but ends up much less daring or funny than a sub-par WB show.
Deleted scenes (where all the naughty stuff is), two commentary tracks, and a making-of featurette highlight the D.E.B.S. DVD.
Freeze or we'll put on more makeup.
Run time: 91 mins
In Theaters: Friday 25th March 2005
Box Office Worldwide: $96.8 thousand
Distributed by: Destination Films
Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 38%
Fresh: 23 Rotten: 37
IMDB: 5.2 / 10
Director: Angela Robinson
Screenwriter: Angela Robinson
Starring: Sara Foster as Amy Bradshaw, Meagan Good as Max Brewer, Jordana Brewster as Lucy Diamond, Christina Kirk as Madeleine, Geoff Stults as Bobby Matthews, Jill Ritchie as Janet, Jimmi Simpson as Scud, Holland Taylor as Mrs. Petrie, Michael Clarke Duncan as Mr. Phipps, Jessica Cauffiel as Ninotchka Kaprova, Devon Aoki as Dominique
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