By The Nerdling
While this 2004 Indie movie might be silly with an extra helping of cheese, D.E.B.S. is an amusing spy movie spoof with a sweet coming-of-age/coming-out lesbian storyline at its heart and a great Indie soundtrack along with a perfectly placed Erasure song. Written and directed by Angela Robinson, mostly known for her work on The L Word, Hung, and most recently Professor Marston and the Wonder Women, took her 11-minute short to several film festivals and garnered support to make a full-length film. Critics hated it, but I think most of them missed the point.
D.E.B.S. centers around Amy (Sara Foster), Max (Meagan Good), Janet (Jill Ritchie), and Dominique (Devon Aoki), four young women about to graduate from the elite D.E.B.S. (Discipline, Energy, Beauty, Strength) academy. Max is the team leader, she is all about the rules and regulations. Being top D.E.B. is very important to her. Dominique is a chain-smoking, promiscuous Frenchwoman, but still very much a badass in her own right. Janet is sweet and wants to be a D.E.B. more than anything, but she is the only team member who has yet to earn her stripes. Amy is the darling of the D.E.B.S. She is the only woman to earn a perfect score on the D.E.B.S. secret test buried in the SATs. She is questioning whether or not she wants to live this life. Not helping her crisis in identity is her recently ex-boyfriend and Homeland Security agent, Bobbie (Geoff Stults), who constantly pesters her about getting back together.
All hell breaks loose when the infamous thief and general mayhem creator, Lucy Diamond (Jordana Brewster), arrives back into town. Amy is excited since she is writing her dissertation on Lucy. The ladies are dispatched to spy on the criminal mastermind’s meeting with a known assassin, Ninotchka Kaprova (Jessica Cauffiel). Unbeknownst to them, it is actually a date between the two women. The whole situation ends in a shootout with Amy and Lucy meeting. Lucy is smitten and Amy’s doubts about her life are really brought into the spotlight.
It is easy to assume at first glance that D.E.B.S. is a fetishist flick. The women are all in skimpy clothing and there is plenty of girl-on-girl make-out scenes. But this movie is the first time I remember where the lesbian storyline wasn’t a B or C plot that is played for laughs. Amy’s budding sexuality is treated seriously. Lucy might be a criminal, but she has real feelings and dreams of her own. Their love story is quite adorable.
The femininity and sexuality of all the main women are seen as a form of empowerment. Dominique is not judged for her promiscuity (just her rule breaking when it comes to men in her room after hours) and Janet is not made fun of for her love of frilly, pink decor. The school has the young women dressed in skimpy school girl outfits, but they are treated with the same amount of respect as any other federal agency. The fact that D.E.B.S. are all women is not questioned or made fun of. D.E.B.S. are actually the elite spies.
D.E.B.S. is ultra- ridiculous with bad fight scenes and low budget effects, but it is also sweet, funny, and an entertaining spy spoof. In an age where blockbusters are dominating everything, this small film is a perfect relief.
D.E.B.S. is available to watch for fee on VUDU with a few commercial breaks. It is also available to rent on Amazon Video and YouTube.