Thursday, August 13, 2009

Troop Beverly Hills


It always frosts my cookies* a bit to find that my favorite films as a child were viciously and maliciously torn apart by critics. Here I'd been thinking this movie was on par with other representations of fine art, when more cognizant adults degraded my love for this movie with their scathing critiques. Indeed, Troop Beverly Hills, arguably one of my favorite childhood movies, boasts an impressive (okay, depressive) 8% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Not only that, but the only positive review is downright confusing to me as I had assumed myself the target audience for the film:

It's a treat (and necessity) not only for youngish gay boys, but for anyone who enjoys campy good fun with the added bonus of watching dominant cultural values self-destruct.


Right. Okay. At least they threw in that bonus. I was afraid I'd have to let dominant cultural values uphold their lofty position, but luckily they're on the verge of nuclear implosion. And all thanks to Troop Beverly Hills. Who knew?


Perhaps the problem with these reviews was not the movie itself but the jadedness of these adult critics. Yes, I understand that by nature assuming the title of critic allows you to criticize, but it also at times morphs you into too cynical a skeptic to just delight in something light and fluffy and substanceless. As a child, things like plot and nuance and character development are arbitrary. Why settle for a well-written script when there were cupcake dresses to be worn and cookie time songs to be sung. Am I right?

Troop Beverly hills is admittedly somewhere relative to cotton candy on the substance scale of movies. It confirms all of our lurking stereotyped suspicious about the wealthy and it's not exactly a feminist manifesto, but dammit, it's fun. There's even a light sprinkling of salt-of-the-earth values thrown in there for good measure. Well, sort of.

The movie showcases Shelley Long as Phyllis Neffler, a Beverly Hills socialite in the midst of a divorce from her new-moneyful husband. To prove herself as more than just the shallow social climber she probably is, Phyllis opts to become a troop leader for her daughter Hannah's troop of Wilderness Girls. You know, like the Girl Scouts, but with less copyright infringements.



You've got to admit, you've never seen anything campier, save for the troop's camping trip at the Beverly Hills Hotel. That's right, he totally said "khaki wishes and cookie dreams." You're only wishing you'd come up with it first.

So we get Phyllis, compulsive shopper and outrageous late-80s couture-wearer extraordinaire, boldly going where no trophy wife has tread before. Her daughter's troopmates are an eclectic cross section of the rich and famous: darling offspring of famous athletes, out-of-work actors, and foreign dictators round out their motley crew. Though Phyllis is certainly not an ideal troop leader, she's better than the alternative of nobody. Well, sort of.

There is one little fly in the bug spray, though. Rival troop Redfeathers' crazy leader Vesta Plendor, is out to expose Phyllis for what we all already know that she is: a fraud with a big checkbook. Vesta takes this whole thing way too seriously, resorting to some pretty dirty tricks to keep Troop Beverly Hills down. She even goes so far as to enlist her assistant Annie as a spy to infiltrate the Beverly Hills troop.

Initially unsuspecting of Vesta's distasteful scheming, Phyllis sets to work on bettering her troop. She is not such of fan of any existing badges, but she does go to town on the make-your-own-badge project. Literally. They go to town. There's a shopping badge. Jewelry appraisal. It's just so satisfyingly campy. They power through their cookie sales with over the top sales strategies and even a huge troop gala. All seems to be going swimmingly for the newly uplifted Troop Beverly Hills.

The culmination of their work, the Jamboree, is sabotaged by the vicious Vesta-led Redfeathers. Oh, and there are also some lovely trying moments of bonding between the girls. Aww.



The Redfeathers power on, even as Vesta is injured. Her daughter (played by Tori Spelling) and the rest of the troop abandon her in her usual spirit of winning. They finish first, but without a troop leader, their victory is hollow and the girls are disqualified. Just then, Troop Beverly Hills emerges from around the bend, dragging the washed-up Vesta. All's well that end's well. Phyllis and her husband reunite, Vesta gets some K-mart employee blue-smocked comeuppance, yada yada yada, we all live happily ever after.

Irony is notably lacking from this movie, which is fortunate as its major target demographic was the under-12 set. Troop Beverly Hills has no wry remarks on wealth in society, no biting social commentary, and little satirical value. But it does have this**:


The greatest cheesy girl scout cookie-themed movie song I know of, to date



And in the end, isn't that all that really counts?






*This is a line from the movie. Please tell me you caught this.
**It's entirely possible that when I purchased this DVD, some of my roommates and I may have watched this song on repeat. I'm not saying it happened, I'm just saying it's possible that we learned the full song and dance. Intoxication may have been involved.

37 comments:

Jannie aka girl talk said...

One of my favorite movies EVER!!!! ( maybe b/c I would definitely have a shopping badge if I ever led a Girl Scout troop ;)

Optimistic Pessimist said...

Seriously this was one of may favorite movies growing up. I can't tell you how many times I watched it. I wonder if I would still love it as much today?

ashley-cita said...

Tori Spelling?! I had no idea.
Love this movie. So much fabulous jampacked with campy girl scout-y hijinks.

the pizza said...

I loved this movie too. Surprised to see it was received so bad. I wonder what are some movies today that are so off my radar, but kids actually love

Kristen said...

I LOVED this movie and they used to play it on tv all the time! what happened to that?

Anonymous said...

I love this movie. I owned the VHS and then purchased it on DVD just incase the VHS got ruined. I only watch it when I am not feel good it makes me feel just like a kid again!

Little Ms Blogger said...

I openly admit this is a very fun movie and if I'm flicking around on cable and it comes on, I watch it.

Christina said...

LOVE this movie!!!!

Kristina said...

I die! I loved this movie. My mom would watch this with me all the time. There were lots of upcoming stars in that movie. Brings me back to my Girl Scout days!

Legallyblondemel said...

Oh, how I LOVED this movie. This & "Adventures in Babysitting" were on constant replay in my home, irony and critics be damned.

How did I forget that La Tori was in this? And wasn't the Rilo Kiley girl in it too?

Lil' Woman said...

Def. one of my favorite movies...I watch it whenever it come son TNT or TBS! :)

Row-bin said...

In my top 10 fave movies ever. But... Tori didn't play Phyllis's daughter; Dinah Lacey did. Tori played Jamie, she of maybe three lines tops and her original nose.

I totally used the line, "Now Daddy- shake the man's hand and let's be on our way!" the other day with a friend of mine. Weird.

Row-bin said...

And by Phyllis, I mean Vesta. So I guess my whole confusing names point is moot, huh?

Carol said...

Oh my gosh I LOVED this movie! I could watch it over and over!

Jaime | Fast Times said...

This movie is definitely a classic. Great pick!

Annie said...

this used to be my favorite movie!
now i want to see it!

Hanako66 said...

so, so good...it has been too long

netflix!

teasinglydiverse said...

I love this movie!!!

Shoshanah said...

I loved this movie, and used to watch it whenever it was one tv. But I had no idea Tori Spelling was in it

Lisa Michelle said...

OMG...I haven't seen this movie in ages, but I remember watching on HBO. Too funny!

Jenna said...

Ok, so I came over to tell you thanks so much for visiting my blog and leaving a sweet comment - little did I know I was about to click over and find a kindred spirit! Troup Beverly Hills = the best!

Love your blog!

LiLu said...

Shelly will always be Cheers to me.

Thomas said...

Shelley Long? I bet she still kicks herself for quitting on Cheers.

Kristin said...

Tori cracked me up in that flick. Beverly Hills what a thrill!

Kelly said...

"We don't need no stinking badges!"

Adorably Distracted... said...

Beverly hiiiills what a thrill Beverly Hiiiills what a thrill

Laina said...

Oh my god, I just choked on my chips, that was so hilarious.

Anonymous said...

Loved this too...her name is "Velda" tho.

Anonymous said...

I LOVED working on this movie!!! Though I am not a working actress anymore, I value the comments made...years later! :)
Thank you fans for loving the movie!!! We did not have the internet in the '80s-'90s...lol!So it's nice to finally hear the feed back :)

PS
I REALLY AM
"Cleo" from the movie...
Dinah Lacey
:)

Anonymous said...

I LOVED working on this movie!!! Though I am not a working actress anymore, I value the comments made...years later! :)
Thank you fans for loving the movie!!! We did not have the internet in the '80s-'90s...lol!So it's nice to finally hear the feed back :)

PS
I REALLY AM
"Cleo" from the movie...
Dinah Lacey
:)

Anonymous said...

I LOVED working on this movie!!! Though I am not a working actress anymore, I value the comments made...years later! :)
Thank you fans for loving the movie!!! We did not have the internet in the '80s-'90s...lol!So it's nice to finally hear the feed back :)

PS
I REALLY AM
"Cleo" from the movie...
Dinah Lacey
:)

Anonymous said...

I LOVED working on this movie!!! Though I am not a working actress anymore, I value the comments made...years later! :)
Thank you fans for loving the movie!!! We did not have the internet in the '80s-'90s...lol!So it's nice to finally hear the feed back :)

PS
I REALLY AM
"Cleo" from the movie...
Dinah Lacey
:)

Anonymous said...

I LOVED working on this movie!!! Though I am not a working actress anymore, I value the comments made...years later! :)
Thank you fans for loving the movie!!! We did not have the internet in the '80s-'90s...lol!So it's nice to finally hear the feed back :)

PS
I REALLY AM
"Cleo" from the movie...
Dinah Lacey
:)

Anonymous said...

Sorry...I'm lame when it comes to the computer! (I'm actually taking a course on this....still new)...lol... :)
I sent in my comment WAY too many times...still learning the computer...I know...Im way behind!!!
Dinah Lacey

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Mr. Evans said...

It's Velda, not Vesta! I LOVE THIS MOVIE.

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