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Columbia TriStar Home Video presents
Troop Beverly Hills (1989)

Phyllis: You never give me an ounce of credit for anything I do.
Freddy: That's because you never do anything!

- Shelley Long, Craig T. Nelson

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: June 19, 2003

Stars: Shelley Long
Other Stars: Betty Thomas, Mary Gross, Craig T. Nelson, Stephanie Beacham, Audra Lindley, Jenny Lewis, Carla Gugino, Ami Foster, Heather Hopper, Kellie Martin, Emily Schulman, Tasha Scott, Aquilina Soriano
Director: Jeff Kanew

MPAA Rating: PG for language
Run Time: 01h:45m:53s
Release Date: March 25, 2003
UPC: 043396078918
Genre: comedy


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B- B-C-C+ D+

DVD Review

Troop Beverly Hills director Jeff Kanew covered somewhat similar ground with his 1984 Revenge of the Nerds, that gloriously base comic classic about a bunch of social outcasts who overcome adversity to triumph over a bunch of obnoxious and smarmy privileged types. In the case of Troop Beverly Hills, the roles are flip-flopped, with the privileged types being the heroic underdogs who have to work hard to get their act together in order to rise up and prove themselves.

The joke here is that a wealthy, pampered Beverly Hills woman named Phyllis Nefler (Shelley Long) volunteers to take on leadership of her eleven-year-old daughter Hannah's Wilderness Girls scout troop, which according to one character has had "more leaders than a Banana Republic". The girls in the troop are a typically mixed bag of multi-ethnic spoiled rich kids (including a young Carla Gugino), and their self-centered bad attitudes are counter-balanced by Phyllis' overall cluelessness. As a second layer to the story (and a chunk that sometimes slows down the forward progression), Phyllis is about to lose her muffler tycoon husband Freddy (Craig T. Nelson), so part of her attempt at being a scout leader is trying to show to herself that she can actually successfully accomplish something in her life. With that all in place, Phyllis also finds herself unknowingly butting heads with nasty, vengeful scout leader Velda Plendor (Betty Thomas), who wants to shut down the Beverly Hills troop.

The easy fish-out-of-water humor of having "rich kids going camping" sequences occur here, as well as the predictable climactic lopsided outdoor challenge between the Beverly Hills troop and the spiteful brats of the Velda Plendor's Redfeathers troop. Those moments are handled with the usual safe efficiency of the light comedy genre, but I actually enjoyed the middle portion of the story much more, as the well-meaning Phyllis rewrites the scout rulebook and leads her charges on a chic Beverly Hills survival course up and down Rodeo Drive, complete with customized badges (such as jewelry appraisal) for the girls and a lesson in how to Do The Freddie.

One of the admirable things about Troop Beverly Hills is the way that Kanew allows Long's character to not be played as the usual obnoxious, wholly self-centered rich b**** so often seen in films like this, but rather as a spacey but likeable woman on an often misguided mission to teach her Wilderness Girls an important set of life lessons. Gaudy affluence isn't treated as a bad thing here, even as Long, decked out in an ever changing array of wildly-colored outfits, is portrayed as the poster girl for glitzy material possessions. Long, however, gets to play the role refreshingly as both rich AND nice, and as a post-Cheers-era performance, this is probably one of her finer comedic moments.

Troop Beverly Hills isn't perfect, but it is something of a guilty pleasure of mine, and as a lightweight family film it is a mindlessly good one at times. The humor is largely one-note, but Long's portrayal of ditzy Phyllis is quite fun, and Betty Thomas' evil Velda gets to spout one of the film's most memorably vitriolic lines during the final act. Plus, as an added bonus, there is a quirky opening title animation sequence done by a pre-Ren & Stimpy John Kricfalusi, set to The Beach Boys' Make It Big.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: B-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Rationo
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: Well, there will certainly be no hearty words of praise or adoration from fans of this film when it comes to the careless image transfer found here. Where's the widescreen print, Columbia TriStar? Sure, the colors on all of those tacky and gaudy outfits worn by the oblivious Shelley Long look decent enough, I suppose, but the overall print is still pretty dirty. Image detail is very, very inconsistent, at best.

Image Transfer Grade: C-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, Frenchyes


Audio Transfer Review: The audio transfer is not as wholly bothersome as the video side of this release, but it is still no less unremarkable. The mix is plagued by some really lopsided moments of just plain horrible dialogue reproduction, with loud score elements sometimes bursting forth with the brashness of a drunken houseguest. Sadly, the whole presentation comes across more than just a bit flat

A French 2.0 surround track is also provided.

Audio Transfer Grade: C+

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French with remote access
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring A League Of Their Own, Little Secrets, The Master Of Disguise
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: I guess I really shouldn't have expected much in the way of extras for a flick like this, so I can't be too disappointed. Aside from the always enjoyable trailer for A League of Their Own, Columbia TriStar has also tossed in previews for Little Secrets and The Master of Disguise

The disc is cut into 28 chapters, and also included subtitles in English and French.

Extras Grade: D+

 

Final Comments

Well, if you can get past the b-a-d 1.33:1 image transfer and the ho-hum audio track, you still have a funny family movie from the late 1980s (though about twenty minutes too long) that should have been treated better by Columbia TriStar for its initial DVD release.

The odds of a re-release are slim-to-none, so I guess this is what we're stuck with.

Still, it's well worth it as a family night rental......

 


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