I grew up in a house that had an extensive VHS collection. One of our favorite impromptu games was “Name that Movie” based on different quotes. We were also quite adept at relating whatever we were talking about to something that happened in a movie or TV show (a quirk I still have to this day). Because our collection was so large (I think at one point we had about 400 VHS tapes) we had quite a few more obscure movies mixed in with the standard popular fair. Feds was on of those obscure movies.
I’ve never met anybody outside my immediate family that has seen Feds. Dee has seen it only because I had shown it to her when we were younger. I dare you to attempt to find it on DVD. As of this writing I know for a fact you can’t because they have not – and most likely never will – release it to DVD. That is, in the grand scheme of things, a tragedy.
No, this movie does not in any way, shape, or form approach the AFI 100 Greatest Films. It is a corny and somewhat cheeseball comedy about two women trying to become FBI agents. It’s predictable and almost certainly inaccurate. So I’m sure you’re asking why this movie not being on DVD is a tragedy. One simple reason: It’s funny.
Rebecca De Mornay is former Marine (remember, there are no ex-Marines) Ellie DeWitt, a physical woman with more than just a little difficulty hitting the books. Mary Gross is Janice Zuckerman, the book smart weakling with no street smarts whatsoever. You can see where this is going: an underdog buddy picture with women.
Ellie DeWitt, though petite, is probably the toughest woman in her FBI class (and I wouldn’t doubt tougher than many of the men). Her roommate Janice Zuckerman is one of the smartest in the class. They really couldn’t be more different from each other, but they hit it off fairly quickly. Thrown into various situations (some, as when they find themselves foiling a bank robbery, are of their own making) they use their complimentary skills to balance the other and come out on top in the end.
Rebecca De Mornay is good as the small but spunky go-getter Ellie DeWitt. Whenever I think of Rebecca De Mornay I always think of the 1987 version of Beauty and the Beast she was in. I think it’s because that’s the first movie I can recall seeing her in (and because I have still not seen The Hand That Rocks the Cradle). It makes an interesting contrast: Well-mannered medieval woman and tough FBI wannabe with no problem kneeing a guy in the nether-regions. You can imagine what watching this movie is like for me.
The mousy Janice Zuckerman is portrayed to perfection by Mary Gross, who is apparently best-known as a cast member of SNL back in the early 1980s (I’m sadly too young to remember those years). In this role she exudes a combination of meekness and fierceness that made Janice the delightful character she was. Some of the best laugh-out-loud moments we get are a direct result of something Janice has done or said.
This movie is not a smart comedy. If you are looking for smart comedy I would recommend you find a copy of Stranger Than Fiction to watch. I’m not saying this as a bad thing, quite the opposite. Sometimes it’s good to just sit down and not have to think too hard about a movie.
One thing I really have to commend this movie on is that it also demonstrates the apparently little known fact that, while it isn’t smart, that doesn’t mean it has to be filled with toilet humor. You hear that, Hollywood? Generic comedies can have no fart jokes and still be funny. It is a possibility!
Verdict: A. Just like in my review of Moving Violations, I have to give this movie top marks for just being funny and not taking itself seriously. It’s a screwball buddy comedy and doesn’t aspire to be anything else. I can’t help but enjoy it when all I want to do is sit down and stop thinking for a while. And hey, it also has Fred Thompson in it. Who can’t get behind that?