D.E.B.S. (2004)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 6/9/05
Written, Directed, And Edited By: Angela Robinson
Cast: Sara Foster, Jordana Brewster, Meagan Good, Jill Ritchie, Devon Aoki, Michael Clarke Duncan

The feature length version of Angela Robinson's teenage lesbian spy flick "D.E.B.S." (2003) is entertaining, but ultimately unsatisfying. D.E.B.S. is a spy organization that recruits high school girls based on their ability to lie, cheat, and steal. The team that the film focuses on consists of perfect scorer Amy (lovely Sara Foster), aggressive team leader Max (gorgeous Meagan Good), airhead Janet (Jill Ritchie, reprising her role from the original film), and chain-smoking sex addict Dominique (Chanel model Devon Aoki). The intelligence community gets turned upside down when the notorious criminal mastermind Lucy Diamond (adorable Jordana Brewster) shows up in town for a blind date with a Russian assassin. Amy and Lucy meet each other face to face, and instead of shooting each other, a forbidden romance sparks between them. Pretty soon, Lucy kidnaps Amy for a secret romantic tryst, which sparks a nation-wide manhunt and rescue operation. When their love nest is raided, Amy's life goes all to hell as she tries to come to grips with her awakening sexuality and the ostracization of her friends and family. Eventually love and honesty win out in a hail of bullets.

First and foremost, the girls are awesome, and the one thing that the film excels at is showing them strutting around in their adorably short plaid skirts. Unfortunately, nearly every other aspect of the film falters. The action scenes are particularly disappointing as a result of budget constraints, poor stunt work, and a watered down script. Since the film is primarily a romantic comedy, the action is played down even more, favoring lighthearted campiness over violent intensity. Still, it's nice to see the girls waving their guns around and exchanging petty quips with each other. The visual effects are poor, and often times don't make any sense. For instance, why do the D.E.B.S. superiors have teleportation technology? It's an expensive effect that serves no purpose, other than to confuse the viewer. Thankfully, the writing isn't nearly as awful as the original film, but it's still rather pedestrian. The love scenes are touching and pleasant, but very tame, consisting of innocent kisses and tender caresses. This is a stark contrast to the surprisingly raunchy sex scenes in the original, but it's clear that director Angela Robinson is going for a more mainstream audience. And that's the most unfortunate aspect of this film. Robinson plays it safe on all fronts, and the whole tone and execution feels like a made-for-TV after school special. The attempted juxtaposition of a controversial topic with a mainstream presentation misses the target audience completely. Fortunately, apart from Devon Aoki's awful faux French accent, the girls are cute enough and engaging enough to keep the whole thing fun and entertaining.