Wednesday, February 4, 2009

"And I hope the people of the United States of America will be able to sleep better knowing that women like us have guns."

Recently an audio clip came out of Christian Bale losing his shit on the set of the next Terminator movie. It made me wonder how many more instances are there of on-set shit-losing that we don't know about? What about actors who are jerks to their fellow thespian? What about the ones who are supposed to play lovers or family members or friends or work partners? What about buddy movies? That would be funny if the "buddies" in the buddy movie fucking hated each other. One of my newly acquired VHS flicks is a buddy movie, and the two chicks in it have such a nice chemistry together it would be pretty funny to find out that they wanted to fuckin' kill each other in real life.

Feds starts with this chick named Elizabeth "Ellie" DeWitt, a U.S. Marine, and she's played by Rebecca DeMornay, the smokin' hot woman who was so hot, she managed to turn Tom Cruise straight in Risky Business. Then Tom Cruise went on to make Top Gun, where all those shirtless volleyball-playing assholes turned him gay again and we lost him for good. At the beginning of Feds, DeWitt leaves the Marine base and off she goes into Quantico for FBI training, or at least that's where I'm sure it's supposed to be. You see, they're pretty vague about that sort of thing in this flick because the real FBI didn't give them shit as far as cooperation is concerned.

DeWitt arrives with her duffel bag and leather jacket and has a meet-cute with homeboy from Krull. She then meets her roomie, a studious bookish-type (read: nerd) named Janice Zuckerman. At first, the uptight Zuckerman kinda blows off DeWitt's attempts at friendship, but DeWitt quickly ends that when she straight out asks Zuckerman what's up with the stick up her ass. Zuckerman apologizes, saying that it's nothing personal, she's always like this when in "extreme academic stress".

The rest of the class is mostly white dudes in suits and a black guy in a suit too. They all reek of Ivy League and smugness and Krull is their unofficial leader. There are a couple of other women, but we never hear shit from them and they get axed pretty quickly, so fuck 'em. It's pretty much recruits DeWitt & Zuckerman against the world from here on out. The only guy recruit who is cool with them is another nerd named Howard Butz (ha ha, it's almost like Butts!). He's from MIT where he apparently majored in looking like a jackass and it's only a matter of time before he and Zuckerman become an item.

The classes are hard as fuck for DeWitt, who is constantly coming off like a dumbass when the instructor calls her out to answer a question. This instructor is fucking hardcore, he's the kind of teacher who gives you back your test grade out loud in front of everybody. At one point, he tells DeWitt that only nine out of forty trainees graduate, the rest become salesman or telephone repairmen or beauticians. That sounds a little too extreme for me. I'm sure the ones who fail become police officers or go work in a law firm or something. But I guess he's just trying to make a point and be a dick at the same time.

No worries in the class for Zuckerman, though. She aces all her tests and gives all the right answers when called upon. Whenever she's back in her dorm room, she's busy reading from the assigned books, highlighting sections and putting colored paper clips on the page for quick reference. I used to do that sort of thing, and now here I stand before you, a proud community college dropout, so if I can do it, YOU can do it! The one thing Zuckerman can't do is accomplish anything that requires more physical exertion than taking notes. She can't do one pull-up, she can't shoot for shit, and she's constantly humiliated by her male counterparts when called on to demonstrate handcuffing a suspect.

DeWitt, of course, is fuckin' Hoo-rah Semper-Fi Do or Die when it comes to the manly shit. She always hits dead-on during target practice and you're never gonna make her look dumb during a handcuffing procedure. This big beefy mustached Mike Ditka-looking motherfucker who's probably from Chicago and I'm certain is well-acquainted with all the different subtle flavors of bratwurst makes the mistake of pulling that shit with her. Next thing he knows, he's kissing the mat and his hands are cuffed behind his back. Don't underestimate the lady, Ditka.

Early on, they all meet the director of the program, and he's played by Fred Dalton Thompson. If that name sounds familiar to you, it's probably because he's acted for quite a while. It's also probably because he was a politician for even longer. Same thing, I suppose. Most recently he ran for President, and well, we all know how THAT worked out. It's too bad it didn't happen for him, because I wanted to be able to say that the fucking President of the United States is in Feds. Ms. DeMornay, if you are reading this, I think you should consider a career in politics and you should shoot for the highest office while you're at it. But be prepared for those assholes in the competition to run ads using scenes from The Hand that Rocks the Cradle to pull that "Do you want THIS kind of person running your country?" shit.

During a game of poker at the lounge, Mike Ditka suggests ordering some pizza. Butz figures two large pies should do, but Ditka says it won't because he could eat two large by himself. DeWitt offhandedly comments that she could probably eat as much pizza as him. Next thing you know, they're competing against each other for cash. DeWitt realizes she's way in over her head, or her eyes are bigger than her stomach or whatever the appropriate saying is, so she wins by grossing out Ditka by talking at length about how insect eggs fester in pepperoni and if not cooked properly you could have a bunch of hatching insects in your belly. I don't think that's true, but if it is, I don't give a fuck. Pizza is just too awesome to throw away on something like that. I'm like Chong in Up in Smoke, when Cheech gives him shit for eating food from a street vendor, telling him that it's most likely made of dog. "It's good dog" responds Chong.

While out shopping for the weekend, DeWitt figures this is a good opportunity for Zuckerman to buy a handgun, so off they go to the local gun store. Like other women are good at matching what shoes to go with what dress, DeWitt knows what gun should go with a person, so with her help Zuckerman walks out with a SIG-Sauer P226 fitted with Tritium night sights and a compensator. Our gals then go out to enjoy a nice patioside lunch, and it's there that DeWitt notices a bread truck parked in front of a bank for nearly twenty minutes. The engine's been running the whole time, there are no bakeries or stores on the block, and the bank just closed for the day, so it looks like there might be a robbery in progress. She and an apprehensive Zuckerman go over to check it out and sure enough, out come the masked men with bags and machine guns. The robbers take off, and our gals commandeer some dude's car. The poor dude tells them to be careful with his ride, because he just got it back from the shop, and if you've ever seen a movie before, you fuckin' KNOW where this is going. A car chase ensues, but thanks to DeWitt's expert shooting with the SIG, the truck goes flipping over and the bad guys are apprehended. DeWitt is thrilled and she's sure this will go over well with her instructors.

It doesn't. Coulda-Been-Prez tells her that she and Zuckerman pretty much did nothing by the book, and it's only because the press has agreed not to reveal it was FBI trainees that were involved that he won't expel them, and instead they're put on probation. It's not looking good for our girls, what with DeWitt flunking her tests and Zuckerman flunking in the ass-kicking department. There's a pretty harsh moment during another of the handcuffing exercises when Zuckerman tries to get Krull to cooperate. He ends up taking her down hard, landing her face down and putting the handcuffs on her. He then takes her rubber gun, shoves it against the back of her head and goes "Bang. You're dead". Then he just gets up and walks away, leaving her there. If this was someone else, I could excuse that as someone just trying to teach her the hard way for her own good, so she could understand that this is life and death shit they're dealing with here. But you can tell this guy just likes being an asshole.

DeWitt returns to her dorm room to find Zuckerman packing all her stuff and talking about how she's had it with the bullshit, and that she could be working in a law firm for $60,000 a year. DeWitt tells her that she should be happy with how far she's made it. She brings up that Richard Nixon didn't even get this far, he was turned down by the FBI, and the reverent tone she has when saying this, along with her military background and her love of guns tells me that this chick's GOT to be a Republican. I figure Zuckerman's a Democrat then, since she doesn't appear to give a shit about that Nixon shit. Anyway, DeWitt figures it out; Zuckerman's one of these smart kids who always got A's, the kind who would get all pissy if they got a B+ on a quiz. There was a moment like that on The Wonder Years, where Pfeiffer got a B on his math test and compared it to kissing your sister, and Kevin Arnold held up his C+ and asked "Then who am I kissing?". That show fucking ruled. Anyway, DeWitt tells Zuckerman that she knows they can help each other out and help rid each other's weaknesses by using their individual strengths.

A cutesy montage follows, with our girls teaching each other their ways. Butz even joins in to help them every once in a while. Later on, DeWitt scores an A on her exam while Zuckerman slips and scores a B, and sure enough, Zuckerman gets all pissy about it. But it's okay, because Zuckerman gets to let it out when she has to do the handcuffing procedure with asshole Krull again. He thinks it's going to be second-verse-same-as-the-first in The Ballad of Krull & Zuckerman, but instead our girl helps him rewrite that little ditty, and the second verse now goes something like "Ow My Foot/Ow My Balls", preferably sung falsetto.

Krull wants to make sure his dick still works after having it introduced to Zuckerman's size 8, so he asks DeWitt out on a date. She accepts, and off they go for dinner at a fancy restaurant. Meanwhile, Zuckerman is back at the dorm, reading a magazine in her PJ's on a Saturday night because she likes to party. Butz shows up to borrow a couple of books, and they have a little cutesy chat that leads to them heading over to the lounge to catch a PBS special on Nobel Prize winners. DeWitt's date with Krull goes south because Krull's an asshole. Big surprise.

The trainees are assigned to look over and study old case files and one of them involves Navy blankets being stolen when they were sent to a laundry service. The investigation didn't go anywhere and the case is only a year old, so DeWitt and Zuckerman go over to question a suspect who is still in college. They find him and his roommates smoking some herb and watching some football. These motherfuckers are some of the lamest fuckin' stoners I've ever seen in a flick. A lot of "hey baaabe, what's hangin' duuude" and all that shit. Anyway, they play at being official FBI agents and grill the college student, who ends up giving up all the info. He tells them that it was some other guy who stole the blankets and that he hangs out at some shitty club in a shitty part of town.

They go to this lowlife place and find the lowlife blanket thief, but not before a brief scuffle breaks out between DeWitt and some of the patrons, which Zuckerman puts a stop to by blasting the whole fucking joint with her muthafuckin' SIG-Sauer. Wow. In the previous scene, she slammed a suspect against the wall unprovoked and put the fear of jail and assrape into him and his friends. Now she's shooting holes in a crowded bar and aiming her loaded weapon at cowering innocent bystanders, calmly referring to them as smart men but making it very clear what the alternative to not being smart would be. In a few years, Zuckerman will probably end up pulling some Val Kilmer-in-Spartan shit on a motherfucker. The thief confesses to them that he did steal the blankets but honestly didn't know they belonged to the Navy, and they in turn confess that they're just trainees looking for extra credit.

Coulda-Been-Prez reads the report the next day and gives our homegirls some major props for their work. He then congratulates the remaining trainees and tells them there is only one more obstacle to conquer before graduating and becoming FBI agents. Sometime soon, he tells them, there will be a crime simulation exercise that he and the instructors will be taking part in and the trainees must treat this like the real thing. For now, they're allowed to go out and enjoy a well-earned night of liberty. The girls go out to a local bar where they both get hammered and Zuckerman gets all whore-y and tries to hook up with a sailor. DeWitt ends up cockblocking the sailor, probably out of jealousy, and she and Zuckerman stumble back to their room. A few seconds after they go to bed, the phone rings -- the exercise has begun.

The girls apparently managed to sober up when they arrive at the briefing room, where they meet up with the rest of the trainees and find Coulda-Been-Prez leading a group of black-clad men who are carrying shotguns. They are portraying the "Terrorist Liberation Front" and they have kidnapped the president of a major banking organization (played by the main instructor) and are demanding a ransom. The trainees objective is to find and neutralize the kidnappers and save the president. I love how they make the bad guys so vague and politically correct. This was made in 1988, but they still didn't want to offend any real terrorists, because as long as we leave them alone, they'll leave us alone, right?

Krull appoints himself as leader and off they go. A map is found on the grounds and Krull figures it will lead them to the terrorists. DeWitt, Zuckerman and Butz all disagree, saying that it's just too convenient that the bad guys would leave a map out in the open like that. Krull tells them they can either leave and form their own group or shut the fuck up and follow. They decide on the former. Using their brains, teamwork, gumption and all that other crap, our group finds out where the terrorists are hiding -- the conference room of the administration building. They radio Krull and his Alpha Male posse and pretend to be Headquarters, giving them bad information on the whereabouts of the terrorists.

The girls suit up in black and load up with shotguns and rope, making themselves ready to go PG-13 non-violent attack squad on that ass. Butz then busts in the room with his shotgun while DeWitt and Zuckerman swing in from the roof and smash through the windows, taking the terrorists by surprise. Jesus Christ, I know this is an exercise, but is it okay to commit such wanton acts of destruction to government property like that? The terrorists are handcuffed and the hostage is saved. They all go riding triumphantly back to the briefing room on jeeps and run into Krull and the Alpha Male posse, who are looking all worn out and beaten up. These motherfuckers failed at the exercise so badly, they should be thrown out of the program in the same manner that Uncle Phil throws Jazz out of his mansion, but DeWitt saves their asses by thanking them for the idea of splitting up into two to cover their bases faster. Which is actually kinda true, now that I think about it. But whatever, Krull is still an asshole and he'll always know that he got fuckin' schooled by our girls. Forever and ever, he'll know that shit, which is cool but also kinda sucks, because this asshole will probably take that shit out on the chick he marries. He'll probably smack her around in front of the kids, and that's gonna fuck up his young son who will grow up to be a fuckin' pussy-whipped pansy and it will fuck up his daughter who will grow up to become a man-hating stripper. Or maybe he'll just catch a bullet in the line of duty and spare us all that pain.

So it's graduation day, and all the trainees get their FBI shield and are applauded by the instructors and the guests. New Special Agents DeWitt & Zuckerman are named the valedictorians or MVP's or Best in Show or whatever and go up to receive their award. DeWitt makes a stupid joke at the podium, everybody cheers and we fade to black. Roll credits.

Hold up -- there's an extra scene during the credits. Nice. DeWitt & Zuckerman are on their way to be given their first assignments, and Butz meets up with them. He tells them he's really happy with the assignment he got: Duluth, Minnesota. Good for you, Butz. Zuckerman receives her envelope containing her assignment and opens it up: Los Angeles. My condolences, Zuckerman. DeWitt then opens up her envelope: Los Angeles. She and Zuckerman both do that "Oh My God" scream and hug each other and girl power and sequel possibility and all that. Meanwhile, Butz is standing there looking all assed out because his assignment ain't shit compared to theirs. Sorry bro, I don't know what to say other than dress warm.

Feds was written and directed by a couple of Ivan Reitman's homeboys who had previously written Stripes, Meatballs and Heavy Metal for him. I guess the intention with Feds was to do for the FBI what Stripes did for the Army, but I guess it didn't work out that way. You probably already know who Rebecca DeMornay is, so we'll get into the chick who played Zuckerman. Her name is Mary Gross and her brother is best known as the father from Family Ties, or as I prefer to remember him, Bert Gummer from muthafuckin' Tremors. She was also a member of Saturday Night Live, working on the show with Eddie Murphy and Joe Piscopo. Of those two, one went on to destroy his promising comedy career by working in shitty unfunny movies for the paycheck and the other is Joe Piscopo.

Here's a little confession for ya -- I've seen this flick before, caught it on cable a long time ago. I know this is a terrible film. I know every other human being who has seen it would call Feds a comedy with no laughs, which is the worst thing for a comedy to be. I know this. And yet something about this movie tickles a section of my subconscious that causes me to find Feds insanely watchable. I try to take my boy Quentin Tarantino's advice and not use the term "guilty pleasure", because if you like it, that's all that matters and you shouldn't feel ashamed. Yet I do feel ashamed, and boy do I feel guilty. If this shit was on DVD, I'd have it already, but it's not and that's why when I found the VHS at the going-out-of-business video store, I snatched that mutha up faster than Angelina Jolie snatches up poor ethnic kids at an orphanage. If you were to watch this with me, you would sit stonefaced and on occasion turn to look at me in disbelief as I guffawed at some of the lamest lame shit ever committed to celluloid.

It reminds me of this one time I was hanging out with one of my bros and I noticed Miss Congeniality was playing on television. I don't remember how it came out, but I'm guessing I felt so close to my bro that I could comfortably admit that I really liked this Sandra Bullock flick. The way he reacted, you'd think that I had just told him I really enjoy the taste of warm cock in my mouth -- which I understand might as well be the same thing. Considering the subject matter of both films, the best I can come up with is maybe I have a thing for shitty comedies about female FBI agents. In a way, Miss Congeniality is very much the sequel that Feds never had.

There's a theater in Los Angeles called the New Beverly Cinema where on occasion there are drawings for the prize of being able to program your own double feature there. I figure I'd pick two cool badass cult 70's flicks, but now I think I would go with Feds and Miss Congeniality. I can picture it now, me introducing the flicks in front of an angry crowd of hipsters and movie geeks that are hoping that I'm really bullshitting them and that I'm really about to screen something like the lost extended cut of Metropolis they found in that dead Nazi's closet. Then when the lights dim and the title FEDS fills the screen in all its 35mm glory, the entire audience swarms down upon me and thrash me severely.

A couple of the geeks come down with two big wooden posts and a hammer and nails. I am crucified and put up in front of the screen, blood pouring from my fresh wounds while projected images from the film play over me. Soon, the pain all goes away as I pass out, followed by the sweet sweet release of death. Then, from the back of the theater come three glowing figures in white. They are the fictional characters of Special Agents Ellie DeWitt & Janice Zuckerman and Special Agent Gracie Hart made flesh. They walk over to the cross and take my limp form down. The light of the projector comes down and shines upon me. A few minutes pass and then -- HUZZAH! I am reborn! I awaken completely healed and refreshed with a new sense of peace and dare I say it -- contentment. I join the fictional film characters as we walk out of the theater, ready to begin the much-needed paradigm shift in our ugly self-destructing society. It will be the beginning of the age of The New Mediocrity...and it will be glorious.