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Sony Pictures Home Entertainment presents
D.E.B.S. (2004)

Janet: They're calling you a hero when you're really a slut.
Amy: What?
Janet: A gay slut!

- Jill Ritchie, Sara Foster

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: June 07, 2005

Stars: Jordanna Brewster, Sara Foster
Other Stars: Meagan Good, Jill Ritchie, Devon Aoki, Jimmi Simpson, Holland Taylor, Michael Clarke Duncan, Jessica Cauffiel, Geoff Stults
Director: Angela Robinson

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some sexual content and language
Run Time: 01h:31m:44s
Release Date: June 07, 2005
UPC: 043396111301
Genre: comedy


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B- B-B-B- B-

DVD Review

In the pre-credit sequence to D.E.B.S., we're told by an ominous voiceover guy that there is a secret test hidden within the SAT exam, one that clandestinely measures a persons' ability to become a spy. Those who achieve a certain score are ushered off to join a top-secret paramilitary spy network, one where all of the girls are apparently beautiful college-aged coeds who wear short plaid skirts, and save the world with really big guns.

But with hormones raging, that ol' bugaboo of young love figures prominently, and when D.E.B.S. poster child Amy Bradshaw (Sara Poster) dumps her hunky spy boyfriend Bobby (Geoff Stults), the time is right for a completely unexpected romance, this time with super villain Lucy Diamond (Jordana Brewster). Needless to say, this causes a lot of problems for Amy, especially from her fellow spies, including squad leader Max (Meagan Good), chain-smoking Dominique (Devon Aoki) and naïve Janet (Jill Ritchie).

Writer/director Angela Robinson originally issued D.E.B.S.—sort of a cross between Charlie's Angels, 1980s teen comedies, and a spy spoof—as a comic book, and then eventually as a short 10-minute film (also starring Jill Ritchie as Janet). This long-form version is significantly more polished than the short version, though it seems Robinson had some difficulty coming up with things for her hot chick spies to do, and as a result there is quite a bit of going over the same old ground during the course of 90 minutes. Only once the Amy/Lucy romance begins moving forward does Robinson seem to finally have enough story going to fully give over to that sugary 1980s teen comedy vibe (however alternative) that she seems to want to channel, and the presence of songs by The Cure, New Order, and Erasure—used during one of the film's cutest "montage" bits—reinforces that push.

The jokes don't always work here, but Jimmi Simpson, doing sort of a Christian Slater-lite kind of thing, is fun to watch as Lucy Diamond's faithful sidekick, as is Holland Taylor as the caustic head of the D.E.B.S. Though the gags sometimes run dry, there is something here that I still like a lot, and it's not just the short skirts or the Brewster/Foster lip locks. It is something that seems to yell loudly that the film knows it's hopelessly dumb right off the bat, and the spy components (such as the holodeck-like transporting or the high-tech security system) are nonsensically cartoonish. And even with the girl-meets-girl storyline, Robinson plays it, er, straight, and she gives Brewster and Foster the chance to make their blossoming romance move with most of the usual real-life fits and starts, even if the characters are one-dimensional caricatures.

I don't really mean to rope-a-dope D.E.B.S. because I actually enjoyed it, I only wished it had been a little tighter. Robinson packs the soundtrack with a lot of great music, and the story is as simplistically frothy as a comic-book-turned-feature-film about hot chick spies and unspoken lesbian love can be. For me, it's not as much of an undeniable guilty pleasure as something like Bring It On, but it is certainly in the ballpark.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: B-

 

Image Transfer

 OneTwo
Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyesno
Anamorphicyesno


Image Transfer Review: It's a mixed blessing, but Sony has crammed two transfers onto one side, with options for 1.33:1 or 2:35:1 anamorphic widescreen image; the good news is that the film doesn't lose all that much in translation in 1.33:1, but why take it when you have a choice to go widescreen. The print is clean, with just a few small compression problems, but colors are bright and vivid, and fleshtones seem naturally rendered, so much so that Brewster's sometimes overapplied makeup appears noticeable.

Image Transfer Grade: B-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Frenchyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Audio is provided in 5.1 Dolby Digital surround, and while hardly reference quality, it delivers modest directional movement, plenty of breathy, clear dialogue and some occasional rear channel sound cues. The use of a number of zippy alt songs on the soundtrack (New Order, Erasure, The Postal Service, The Cure, etc) comes across peppy and lively.

A French 2.0 surround is also included.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French with remote access
5 Other Trailer(s) featuring Man of the House, Hitch, The Brooke Ellison Story, Spanglish, xXx: The Director's Cut
4 Deleted Scenes
1 Featurette(s)
Storyboard
2 Feature/Episode commentaries by Angela Robinson, Sara Foster, Jordana Brewster, Jill Ritchie, Meagan Good
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Music video
  2. Photo Gallery
Extras Review: Not that it really demands it, but there are two commentary tracks, one from writer/director Angela Robinson and the second with cast members Sara Foster, Jordana Brewster, Jill Ritchie and Meagan Good. Robinson is less frothy than the chatty girl track, and offers some history on the project—from comic to short film to feature—and discusses at length music cues that are designed to give D.E.B.S. a "happy '80s synthetic feel". Foster, Brewster, Ritchie, and Good have a nice chemistry, but their chatter is lightweight and giggly, and things learned are that they all love Spaceballs.

Infiltrating D.E.B.S. (12m:17s) presents a look at the making-of, essentially a stripped down version of Robinson's commentary. There are scenes from the short film that evolved out of the comic (also starring Jill Ritchie), but I'm surprised it wasn't included on this disc. Four Deleted Scenes (08m:42s) are also included, one of which is an extended alternate take of the big love scene between Brewster and Foster.

Extras wrap with an Animatic (04m:59s) of the opening shot, a music video for the jangly pop song Into the Morning by The Weekend (04m:10s), a few trailers, a brief photo gallery and 28 chapter stops.

Extras Grade: B-

 

Final Comments

Yep, this one falls under the heading of "guilty pleasure", and though she sometimes doesn't seem to know what to do with her characters, director Angela Robinson reworks the typical '80s teen comedy by adding the intrigue of lesbianism into the mix. The cast is cute, their skirts are short and the humor is regrettably spotty, but there's enough here for a pleasing dose of dumb fun if you're not too cool for the room.

 


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