Sunday, May 10, 2015
TROOP BEVERLY HILLS (1989)
Directed By: Jeff Kanew
Written By: Pamela Norris & Margaret Oberman
Story By: Ava Ostern Fries
Cinematography By: Donald E. Thorin
Editor: Mark Melnick
Cast: Shelly Long, Mary Gross, Stephanie Beacham, Betty Thomas, Shelly Morrison, Craig T. Nelson, Jenny Lewis, Carla Gugino, Kellie Martin, Tori Spelling, Tasha Scott, Tom Wright, Cheech Marin, Robin Leach, Kareem Abdul-Jabarr, Pia Zadora
Phyllis Nefler, a soon to be divorced Beverly Hills society wife is determined to prove to her husband Freddy and herself that she can finish what she starts out to do. She soon realizes that being a Wilderness Girls' den mother to a troop of Beverly Hills-bred girls is not as easy as buying cookies.
If this film is a childhood favorite or treat of yours as it once was for me. I would suggest skipping the rest of the review as it isn't pretty.
The title pretty much says it all as far as the plot goes.
This film was made when ideas like this were considered high concept. Perfect for the market of the late 80's. Here captured by the horrid and bright fashions of the rich. Now, I don't even know of this would have even passed as a strait to video on demand movie. If it did now you would certainly need a bigger star the Shelly long , but then she still held clout enough to think this could have been a hit and she was surely enough to anchor the ship.
This film is confusing as it seems to play more for teenage girls back when studios seem concerned about at least once in awhile catering to them. Though strangely here the film mostly revolves around the adults, the kids seem more to be just used to help move the action forward and be sidekicks. As they are mostly either one dimension or occasionally two dimensional.
Though the sense of humor seems more purely for kids, little girls in particular. Though probably best for teens. It plays more like a schoolgirl fantasy, though teaches a lesson about friendship and bonding. Plus being able to be stylish at all times.
Now admittidely I am not the right audience for this film, but when it came out I was. As I had a crush on Jenny Lewis who was recently the lead singer of the band RILO KILEY and now is a solo artist with many albums to her credit. I am still a fan of hers. She is also one of the few people I had ever wrote a fan letter too and she surprisingly wrote back on Garfield memo later with an autographed photo. So because of this crush it probably didn't matter how bad this movie was as long as I got to see her. It is a habit that I have continued with over the years and maybe only more recently have gotten control over to stop seeing every big screen crushes films. Even the ones that are badly reviewed and rated just to be a completist. Plus to seem actress's who have been relegated to small and/or supporting roles, finally play a lead.
I am older now and have seen this movie more times then I would like to admit over the years and the older I get the movies flaws become obvious and unbearable. If this was a satire along the lines of DOWN & OUT IN BEVERLY HILLS. It could have been better, but as it stands now. This is horrible. One of the worst ideas for a movie though not for an episode of a television show.
Part of the only fun of watching this film might be recognizing some of the cast. As this film is probably a skeleton in their closet, but it's fun to watch and spot Tori Spelling and Carla Gugino in introductory and early roles. Even for the known cast I am sure this isn't one they talk of fondly. Though it might have introduced them to a new younger audience at the time.
This was Betty Thomas' “Velda Plendor” in the film last role in a full-length feature film; she would later direct.
The studios that produced the film were actually producing another project while filming the low budget comedy. As the camera rolled for Shelley Long on the set of the film, a second camera crew was filming the zero-budget corporate video for the 2nd Asst. Directors Program that is offered in Hollywood. The tape included interviews of a number of 2nd AD's in the industry alongside clips of the crew working on the set of Troop Beverly Hills. In one scene during the end of the movie, one of the Wilderness Girls falls and hurts her leg. It was up to one of the Asst. 2nd Directors to pick up the girl and bring her to a medic. This footage was filmed on video for the corporate tape. In the end, the studios saw this as an opportunity to save money to promote the AD program by shooting footage of the production of Troop Beverly Hills. Shot over 15 years ago, the corporate tape is still used today for students wanting to enter the program in 2004.
This seems to be a film where they came up with a title and sold it. Then just decided to write around it.
Even the reliable Craig T. Nelson looks embarrassed and mad and he wasn't even that way in the film ACTION JACKSON. While it will hold nostalgic childhood memories. This movie is just bad.
Though not campy I am shocked this film has never gotten a cult around it as even THE APPLE which to me is putrid has a following. I could see this film gaining traction as it has all the right ingredients. Especially the ridiculous concept.