This junior Charlie’s Angels centers around a quartet of nubile trainees in an elite crime-fighting school: Amy (Sara Foster) is tops in her class, little Miss Perfect; Max (Meagan Good) has a killer ambition to best her; Janet (Jill Ritchie) is the klutzy one, and Dominique (Devon Aoki) is boy-crazy and blasé. They are D.E.B.S., which stands for Discipline, Energy, Beauty, Strength. The major twist is that the nihilistic villainess they are trying to bring down, Lucy Diamond (Jordana Brewster), is a lesbian, and she and Amy end up as the film’s central romance.
Sure, there’s a strong whiff of cheese here, with its no-budget look and the girls jiggling about in micro-minis and abs-baring little Catholic schoolgirl tops, but D.E.B.S. is pretty disarming overall, and has a nicely satiric edge to it. Rookie director/writer Angela Robinson keeps her tongue firmly in cheek, but also possesses a bushel of affection for her characters, which both account for much of her film’s inconsequentially breezy charm. She’s been extremely fortunate in her casting of a corps of winningly game actors, and the lesbian twist comes off as surprisingly organic and piquant, rather than merely exploitative.
Brewster has an intriguing, lip-licking brazenness to her, and it’s small wonder that Foster, a sprightly, dippy comedienne, falls for her. Good is Amy’s appealingly bossy best friend (“What was the first thing I said to you when we met?” “You’re my bunk bitch.” “No, after that.”). Supermodel Aoki doesn’t have much to do except pout in a French accent and smoke, but her intriguing Eurasian looks are camera-riveting. Geoff Stults brings iron-jawed handsomeness, as well as a wry cluelessness, to the part of Amy’s bewildered boyfriend. Jimmi Simpson has a puckish good humor in the role of Lucy’s hapless henchman. But it’s Holland Taylor who really steals the show as the school’s haughtily imperious headmistress, drolly wresting every chance she can to make comic gold of her scenes with a seasoned pro’s superb assurance (“What was that movie Jodie was in, with the lambs and all that lotion?”).