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  Feds Righting Wrongs And Righting Rights
Year: 1988
Director: Daniel Goldberg
Stars: Rebecca De Mornay, Mary Gross, Ken Marshall, Fred Dalton Thompson, Larry Cedar, Raymond Singer, James Luisi, Rex Ryon, Norman Bernard, Don Stark, David Sherrill, Jon Cedar, Tony Longo, Bradley Weissman, Michael Chieffo
Genre: ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Ellie De Witt (Rebecca De Mornay) has just left the Marines and is seeking employment elsewhere, so opts to join the Federal Bureau of Investigation as a trainee. When she shows up at their headquarters she finds she is the sole woman there, and on meeting with the head of the training programme, Bilecki (Fred Dalton Thompson) she is told that while her qualifications indicate she is just about eligible, the only reason she will be taken on is that the Bureau are required by law to accept female candidates, so she is simply there to make up the quota. Fair enough, she thinks, if that's enough to get my foot in the door so be it, and is soon meeting her new roommate, the studious Janis Zuckerman (Mary Gross)...

Ah, the eighties, what a time for the buddy movie! And what a time for female buddy movies, you had, er, well there was Cagney and Lacey on television, but that's not strictly a film, but you did get... um... oh yeah, Feds, not that the two women in question got to do much arresting because the entire story took place during their training. Fair enough, director and co-writer Daniel Goldberg did include a bit where Ellie and Janis were out around town and stumbled upon a bank robbery in progress, which offered the rare chance to see a woman driving in a car chase, but mostly this was a light comedy with a few points to make, not labour, in favour of taking females as seriously as males.

Though that would extend as much to the movie industry as it did law enforcement, as we have seen action leads in movies still tend to be male, with the ladies relegated to supporting or victim or supporting victim roles, so perhaps Rebecca and Mary were pioneering in their modest manner. This was really Goldberg's brainchild, however, here directing his only film at the helm as he was best known for producing, an associate of Ghostbusters supremo Ivan Reitman and later to make an absolute packet as producer of the Hangover series. Yet as if he was being careful not to make Feds too wacky, there was a sense that everyone was holding back a little, tentative about just how this premise would be regarded.

As it was, the reception was not exactly blockbuster level, but for those who caught it on television and didn't anticipate how refreshing a distaff twist on that buddy genre would be, no matter that it wasn't hugely hilarious, it was oddly comforting and reassuring, though that could be nostalgia talking. That was especially down to the way there were no unpleasant surprises, so you were not expecting the two lead characters to fail, and it was also cheering that their closest male ally was a nerdy guy (Larry Cedar) who feels as empowered as Ellie and Janis do simply by being around them and taking inspiration as a result, rather than winding up the butt of many jokes from the more macho candidates. Ken Marshall (of Krull fame) was the main one of those, and gets to take Ellie out on a date.

They share a kiss before Ellie discovers that he is so full of himself he really isn't worth her romantic interest, particularly when he disparages Janis who in a recurring scene he fails to be convinced can even arrest someone properly - his comeuppance is notably satisfying. There are surprisingly few mainstream movies about female friendship, and the bond between the two pals here saw them encourage each other through the patches where the training seems too tough. It could be that the novelty of Feds is enough to make it more interesting than by all rights it should have been should if as many of these movies had been made as the masculine-dominated kind, but that would be doing down what was a bright, unpretentious comedy which did contain some pretty good lines and situations: Goldberg and Reitman knew what they were doing, after all - as did co-producer Ilona Herzberg - and De Mornay and Gross were capable enough to handle their roles as required. It certainly wasn't going to win any awards, but there was a lot pleasing about this. Music by Randy Edelman.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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