Saturday, 29 January 2011

Feds (1988)

... Mayor Dooley and those pen-pushing Pointdexters up on Capitol Hill are soon choking on their sun-blushed huckleberry Danishes...

Feds (1988, Daniel Goldberg)

Starring: Rebecca de Mornay, Mary Gross, Fred Dalton Thompson, Ken ‘Krull’ Marshall, Tony Longo

Box Markings: ‘£3.99 - West End Leisure, Buyers of Video, MC, CD.’

Tagline: ‘Sleep tight America. These women carry guns.’

Trailers: Dealers, S.L.U.R.P., Monday Morning Quarterbacks

Cherrypick: “I’m not a peckerhead – I’m quasi-normal.”

TV Movie parolee Rebecca De Mornay’s bonehead ex-Marine and timid comedy tundra Mary Gross’ credulous bookworm are accepted into the FBI’s agent training programme on the back of some exuberant affirmative action initiative or other in this ‘88 polemic from the mind of internment-movie specialist Harold Ramis. Can so missy-matched a duo really hope to succeed where the smug, corpulent crawdaddies of the ERH patriarchy failed in slipping the Gordian logic-knot of the Canadian Kafka who put Stripes on Bill Murray’s arm, sent Rodney Dangerfield Back to School and sentenced Michael Keaton to the wiseacre Tartarus that must surely comprise a murder of cloned Michael Keatons in his adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s Multiplicity?
Dopes on ropes
Let it suffice for the moment to say that in seventy-nine less than instructive, more than exhausting minutes, these girls manage to explode such male dominated preserves as the latently homosexual eating contest, kicking each other in the swingers (!) and playing so hard and fast with the rulebook that Mayor Dooley and those pen-pushing Pointdexters up on Capitol Hill are soon choking on their sun-blushed huckleberry Danishes.

Sandwiched between the similarly feisty Eighties rallying cries of Aliens and Fatal Attraction, Feds credibly serves as the rickety platform upon which cute blonde munchkin De Mornay expands the cracker-barrel manifesto of female self-empowerment she so baldly laid out in Risky Business into a full-blown clarion call to (small) arms: ‘Sleep tight, America. These women carry guns,’ was the message trumpeted by a sly tagline that compendiously employed a subtle reverse psychology aimed at awakening a walleyed nation from the complacent chauvinist comedown of its unfulfilled hippy daydream.
And she's not afraid to use it!
Indeed, in purely filmic terms it is easy to see that without the assumption of such a firm grasp of the equal opportunities job-nettle that a chilling dystopia undoubtedly beckoned: Put simply - no Feds, no Silence of the Lambs; Erin Brockovitch? - Outta the pool! Tomb Raider... Where’s my dinner? These street-legal Silkwood’s may not have considered themselves martyrs, but they were to find themselves chained to the railings of androcentric America’s Golgotha nonetheless…

When housewives’ choice and chubby stalking horse Bill ‘Hubba-Bubba’ Clinton was ridden into power by his wife Hillary, his (her) inaugural address was littered with so many references, in-jokes and legislative promises with ringing similarities to themes explored in the Feds script that many have felt free to ponder as to how large a role the film’s doctrine had in her (his) speedy rise from Little Rock snake-oil hawksmith to Oval Office sex pest.
I don't know what you're looking so smug about, luv!
Frequently likened by reviewers who had the tenacity to struggle past its flotilla of ghastly PMT gags and through a plot with the sophistication and narrative wit of a cave painting to Warren Beatty’s six hour Rom-Commie flop-opera, Reds, Goldberg’s film was, its proponents suggested, a similarly elegiac ballad to history’s foot soldiers. Others opined that it was about as useful and valuable as a pair of wooden tits. Critic Artie Stanshall of the Wichita Proclaimer was hardly alone when he opined, “Marlon Brando once said, ‘It makes as much sense to me as a rat fucking a grapefruit’ and I cannot overemphasise how much that sublime epithet applies to this ridiculous film.” The films stauncher defenders could just as pithily have pointed out that in this case, Brando’s rat was a hard-won and long overdue meritocracy and the grapefruit in question was nothing less than the social fabric of the American flag.

Anarcha-Feminism 1: World 0.

Originally published in Little White Lies#8

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