The young women of D.E.B.S. (Discipline, Energy, Beauty and Strength) Academy aren't your typical undergrads: chosen for their special abilities as identified by the hidden test embedded within the SAT's, they are tutored in the complex arts of subterfuge, small arms and accessorizing. Amy (Sara Foster), aka "The Perfect Score" - the only woman to ever ace the test- symbolizes everything they hold dear. When she and her mini-skirted squad run up against Lucy Diamond (Jordana Brewster), an international criminal mastermind (or is that mistressmind?), Sara finds herself inextricably drawn to the allure of the dark side. And it’s not evil that she’s jonesing for.
Grrls, guns, and...hell, who needs anything else?
Writer/director Angela Robinson originally envisioned D.E.B.S. as an animated web series, but after graduating from film school realized that it had the makings of great short. The finished product was an audience favorite at Sundance, where it caught the eye of a studio exec, who enjoyed its flirty nature and unabashed take on grrlpower and thought it had the makings of a feature. Robinson responded with a finished script, and production began.
Sara Foster is captivating as Amy, the D.E.B.S. shining star. While Amy appears silly on the surface, she is a complex individual who grapples with the expectations of others and her desire to find herself. Foster is called upon to balance the film's most humorous and dramatic scenes and acquits herself admirably. Playing yin to her yang is Jordana Brewster as Lucy Diamond, the misunderstood villain, who has had infamy thrust upon her, when all she wants is to trade in the death rays and destruction for a nice relationship. The pair share a playful chemistry and connect on a deeper level. The supporting cast is equally impressive.
Meagan Good is forceful and spunky as Max the tough-gal leader of A-squad and Sara's best friend and more than makes up for in attitude what she lacks in size,. It’s a shame that she didn’t get more screen time. Jill Ritchie reprises the role of Janet, the goodie-two shoes struggling to get her stripes. She nails Janet's transition from shy naïveté to worldly wise to self-assured young woman, and has some of the best lines in the movie (she was my favorite character). Jimmi Simpson’s slackerly Scud, Lucy's flippant man at arms, is one of the few males not on display as beefcake. He alone understands Lucy – she’d really rather meet that special someone as opposed to wreaking global havoc. Which brings us to Devon Aoki, who plays Dominique the group's nicotine dependent sex addict. Her stilted delivery and atrociously Clouseauesque French accent is grating and disrupts most of the scenes she's in. Fortunately she gets little screen time.
While the movie is an action-comedy, Robinson deftly handles the confusion and anguish that Amy faces with regards to life and sexuality. The nontraditional pairing which serves as a focal point for the film comes across as touching and genuine. Thankfully neither character is punished for her "indiscretions" as are most characters in “lesbian-themed” films. While it won’t play well in the red states, who really cares?!?
D.E.B.S. is a measured blend of tongue-in-cheek humor, action and drama and features a smoking indie soundtrack that perfectly complements the action on screen. A great matinee.