d.e.b.s

2004

Written and Directed: Angela Robinson

Truly, I think I liked this film a heck of a lot more than I should have. In the grand scale of things, I guess these crime fighting hotties running around in skimpy outfits and saving the world is probably not a wonderful statement for lesbians, or womankind in general. Stereotypes do abound, and no, the characters do not rise above them in the end.

Instead, Writer/Director Angela Robinson embraces the camp cliché for all she is worth and milks it shamelessly. At some point during the first ten minutes or so you'll find yourself hating it, or you'll find that you're losing yourself in the silliness of it all. Obviously, I was the latter. It's the essence of escapism, a true departure from reality and not at all politically correct. It's also laugh-out-loud funny.

However, we'd be doing the film a disservice if we dismissed it out of hand as pure fluff. Underneath the craziness is a cute, teen romance and spy-story-as-coming-out metaphor that is there to be absorbed and considered if you take the time to appreciate it. Then again, you could just lose yourself in the insanity of it all, it's totally up to you. The film lets you decide that for yourself.

Robinson based D.E.B.S the feature film on an award-winning short film she made in 2003 with different actresses but a similar plot. While trying to capture Lucy Diamond - aka Lucy in the Sky - one of the D.E.B.S falls in love with Lucy, which complicates the mission and her life. But Lucy isn't such a bad girl after all. She's just misunderstood.

Amy is literally the poster girl for D.E.B.S (she's on all their recruiting posters). She is the only girl ever to get a perfect score in the D.E.B.S aptitude test and up until now has been an exemplary secret agent. Only Amy isn't 100% sure she even wants to be part of D.E.B.S. She's thinking about art school. She's wonders why she doesn't love her hunky, law enforcement boyfriend. She doesn't even know why she was recruited. A perfect score? A perfect score in what exactly?

Lucy Diamond is the meanest, most badass criminal the D.E.B.S have ever faced. No agent has ever fought her and lived, until Amy. Lucy's in town supposedly to do business with a Russian assassin (who is really a neurotic blind date) and the D.E.B.S are ordered on stakeout. All crazy hell breaks loose and Lucy and Amy end up face to face, and fall inevitably head over heels in lust at first sight.

Not the type of person to let a good thing get away, Lucy drags Amy off to her secret lair where they hit it off famously. It turns out Lucy isn't the bad guy everyone thinks she is. She does steal stuff it's true, but all the rest of her reputation is pure urban legend and totally undeserved. Of course, she did plot to destroy Australia, but she never went through with it.

Amy is in a conundrum. She desperately wants to be with Lucy. What's a good agent supposed to do? In a madcap twist, a less-than-reluctant Amy is "kidnapped" by Lucy and the rest of the D.E.B.S are put on the case to "rescue" her. What will happen to their poster girl when the rest of the agency finds out Amy is cavorting with the enemy?

This is an absolute hoot. It isn't deep and it isn't dramatic, but it's just so much fun. In D.E.B.S the girls kick ass and wear short skirts, girl bands are rocking in the background and the whole thing crackles with energy and one-liners, like a cross between Charlie's Angels and Clueless. You can watch it as a clever commentary on the chick-flick action film genre, or you can watch it as a campy, colourful action movie. Take your pick.

Of course, it's just so easy to love this film, for three very good reasons.

Firstly, D.E.B.S was made with a decent seven-figure budget and it shows. There's only so many grainy, badly-acted lesbian films that audiences can take. So any lesbian-themed film that comes along that is this well made is a relief of huge proportions. I want to see women getting it on and I don't want to have to squint to do it.

Secondly, it panders to our baser instincts. Sexy girls in school uniforms. Guns, fights, lots of pretty colours... Lets not pretend that this film is trying to do anything but play to the cheap seats.

Thirdly, just when you thought it all couldn't get any shallower, I would just like to take a moment to consider Jordana Brewster. No, I'm not even remotely above it.

[Moment]

I thought she was hot in The Fast and the Furious, but that was nothing on this. (Everyone knows the only reason to watch that film was to see Brewster and Michelle Rodriguez.) In D.E.B.S, despite being a send-up, Lucy and Amy have sexual chemistry in spades that feels like it happened almost by accident. Brewster slinks cat-like through her scenes with astonishing grace. She also seems to have a previously untapped gift for comedy. As we all know, in farcical films such as this sometimes the only difference between a funny line and a stupid line is the way it's delivered. All the leads here have great delivery.

D.E.B.S is a bonafide guilty pleasure. The plot stretches so thin you can practically hear it squealing at the edges, but if you give yourself up to it you'll be glad you did. I'm grinning again just thinking about it. Fun, fast, funky, fabulous, frivolous and lots of other f words apply. To all the mainstream critics whose opinions I usually admire but who have panned this film, I can only say, bah humbug.

Got a comment? Write to me at nancyamazon@gmail.com