Troop Beverly Hills (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
March 1, 2015 by Dennis Amith
If you loved “Troop Beverly Hills” and its quirky late ’80s comedy, then you’ll definitely enjoy the release of this film on Blu-ray!
TITLE: Troop Beverly Hills
FILM RELEASE: 1989
DURATION: 106 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:85:1), English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, French monaural, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French
COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Release Date: March 17, 2015
Directed by Jeff Kanew
Story by Ava Ostern Fries
Screenplay by Pamela Norris, Margaret Oberman
Produced by Ava Ostern Fries
Executive Producer: Charles W. Fries
Co-Producer: Peter Macgregor-Scott, Martin Mickelson
Music by Randy Edelman
Cinematography by Donald E. Thorin
Edited by Mark Melnick
Casting by Pamela Basker, Fern Champion
Production Design by Robert F. Boyle
Art Direction by Jack G. Taylor Jr.
Set Decoration by Anne D. McCulley
Costume Design by Theadora Van Runkle
Shelley Long as Phyllis Nefler
Craig T. Nelson as Freddy Nefler
Betty Thomas as Velda Plendor
Mary Gross as Annie Herman
Stephanie Beacham as Vicki Sprantz
Audra Lindley as Frances Temple
Ed Byrnes as Ross Coleman
Ami Foster as Claire Sprantz
Carla Gugino as Chica Barnfell
Heather Hopper as Tessa DiBlasio
Kellie Martin as Emily Coleman
Emily Schulman as Tiffany Honigman
Tasha Scott as Jasmine Shakar
Aquilina Soriano as Lily Marcigan
Jenny Lewis as Hannah Nefler
David Gautreaux as Mr. DiBlasio
Karen Kopins as Lisa
Shelley Morrison as Rosa the Maid
Tori Spelling as Jamie, Red Feather
Shelley Long discovers that when the going gets tough, the tough go camping in TROOP BEVERLY HILLS. Flamboyantly wealthy Phyllis Nefler (Long) has everything money can buy – a Beverly Hills mansion, a classic Rolls, furs, jewelry and designer gowns. The one thing she doesn’t have is her husband Freddy (Craig T. Nelson), who’s leaving her for good. Maybe. Determined to prove she’s still the creative, energetic woman Freddy once loved, Phyllis throws luxury to the wind and becomes the leader of her daughter’s Wilderness Girls troop. But how much can this chic cookie take before she crumbles? Now fully remastered in high definition, TROOP BEVERLY HILLS leaves the wilderness wilder than ever.
A 1989 comedy from director Jeff Kanew (“Revenge of the Nerds”, “Tough Guys”, “V.I. Warshawski”), “Troop Beverly Hills” was a comedy that was the sign of the times.
Released a year before “Pretty Woman” and the Darren Star TV series “Beverly Hills, 90210”, “Troop Beverly Hills” will be remembered for its campy comedy, Shelley Long’s film roles post-“Cheers”. But also will be remembered as being an early film that current stars of today had starred in as children.
Actresses such as Carla Gugino (“Sin City”, “Watchmen”, “Night at the Museum”), Kellie Martin (“Life Goes On”, “ER”), Tasha Scott (“Kiss Shot”, “Camp Cucamonga”), Rilo Kiley vocalist Jenny Lewis, Tori Spelling (“Beverly Hills, 90210”, “Scary Movie 2”), Emily Schulman (“Small Wonder”, “Christy”) and Ami Foster (“Punky Brewster”).
And despite its farfetched storyline, surprisingly “Troop Beverly Hills” was inspired by the true story of producer Ava Ostern Fries, who was the leader of the Girl Scouts for her daughter and friends in Beverly Hills.
And the film has been somewhat of a cult hit since being released on VHS and in syndication. And now “Troop Beverly Hills” will be released on Blu-ray courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment in March 2015.
“Troop Beverly Hills” begins with an introduction to Phyllis Nefler (portrayed by Shelley Long), who has been separated from her husband Freddy (portrayed by Craig T. Nelson), owner of a successful autoshop chain.
Freddy feels that his wife has become nothing but a golddigger, just spending his money and she is no longer the person he once loved.
Phyllis wants to prove Freddy wrong and that she can be responsible by becoming the den mother for her daughter Hannah (portrayed by Jenny Lewis) and the other girls of the Beverly Hills-based local girl scout troop of Wilderness Girls.
One that wants the Beverly Hills troop shut down for good is Culver City den mother of the Red feathers group, Velda Plendor (portrayed by Betty Thomas).
Velda goes so far to send her assistant Annie Herman (portrayed by Mary Gross) to infiltrate and join the Wilderness Girls to take pictures of all wrongdoings of Phyllis Nefler.
Unlike other den mothers, Phyllis lacks the skills and experience, even going so far of creating her own merit badges for her troop.
And despite capturing the unorthodox ways of Phyllis’ leadership, the council still wants to give Phyllis and her girls a chance by taking part in a series of tests at the upcoming Girls Scouts Jamboree. But first, they must qualify by selling over 2,000 cookies.
Can Phyllis and her Wilderness Girls outsmart Velda and her Red Feather group? But most of all, can Phyllis and the girls prove to themselves that they have what it takes to make their troop of Beverly Hills recognized by the councilwomen?
“Troop Beverly Hills” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1 aspect ratio). I have been critical of a lot of ’80s and early ’90s films on Blu-ray for their softness on Blu-ray in the past, but watching “Troop Beverly Hills”, the film looks fantastic in HD thanks to its mastering in 4K.
The film showcases amazing detail when it comes to closeups. Outdoor scenes features vibrant colors and there is good amount of grain featured throughout he film. There are some moments where you see a bit more noise, but the film looks very good for a film that is over 25-years-old.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Troop Beverly Hills” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD MA and French monaural. The film is primarily dialogue and music-driven, which are crystal clear through the front and center channels. I didn’t notice too much use of the surround channels during my viewing of the film but the soundtrack is clear and is appropriate for this kind of film.
Subtitles are in English, English SDH and French.
“Troop Beverly Hills” comes with the following special features:
- Shelley Long Remembers Troop Beverly Hills – (14:25) Shelley Long remembers filming “Troop Beverly Hills”.
- The Real Phyllis Nefler – Ava Ostern Fries – (9:32) Ava Ostern Fries discusses how her personal story became a film and behind-the-scenes info. in regards to the film.
- Deleted Scenes – (7:23) Featuring ten deleted scenes.
- Theatrical Trailer – (1:49) The original theatrical trailer for “Troop Beverly Hills”.
“Troop Beverly Hills” comes with an UltraViolet code to instantly stream or download the film in Digital HD for TV, computers, tablet or smartphones.
Watching “Troop Beverly Hills” today, one can’t help but think how cheesy the comedy is. But after some thought, realizing that a lot of ’80s comedies were cheesy, but yet we enjoyed them during that time.
And from 1989 to the early ’90s, there was an allure for wanting to be from Beverly Hills and there was so much of that era that captivated us. “Lifestyles and the Rich and Famous”, years of excessive spending were still in full force.
While “Troop Beverly Hills” was not the film that would jumpstart the trend, a year later, “Pretty Woman” and “Beverly Hills, 90210” would reach American viewers and further that admiration of people wanting to know more about the rich and famous or perhaps make one feel that perhaps things are much cooler to be on the other side.
But these were the years before dot-bomb, the years before the Madoff investment scandal, years before the economy became sour in the 2000’s and people lived without a care in the world.
“Troop Beverly Hills” is a film about a ditzy shopaholic trying to prove to her husband that she can be responsible by being the den mother of children who also had parents who were rich and famous and didn’t know anything less than that.
The Beverly Hills Wilderness Girls were seen as the rich girls that didn’t belong in Cub Scouts, the rivalry with Culver City (which is more evident between the high school athletic teams) had carried over to the film between the Beverly Hills Troop -Wilderness Girls vs. Culver City’s troop – Red Feathers.
And watching it today, there are scenes that were ultimately cringeworthy and cheesy, but this was during the ’80s, where we watched “Small Wonder”, “Kids, Inc.”, “Saved by the Bell”, “Facts of Life”, “Mork and Mindy”, “Diff’rent Strokes”, “Silver Spoons”, “Punky Brewster” and we loved it.
And once again, this style of comedy carried on through the ’90s but we saw these types of comedy films and shows as safe, quick entertainment.
“Troop Beverly Hills” is a film that was part of that era. It may seem cheesy now but people enjoyed it this type of comedy back then.
Shelly Long was no doubt a draw due to her years at “Cheers” and the film had a good number of star cameos. But for anyone who grew up in the ’80s and watches this film, you will see a younger version of Tori Spelling, Carla Gugino, Jenny Lewis, Kellie Martin, to name a few.
In a way, it was nostalgic for me to watch this film once again. The film came out when I was still in high school and my memories of watching this was with a few guy friends and our only comments of how “hot” Shelley Long looked in the film but feeling it was a fun film.
Watching it over 25-years-later and yes, I felt it was overly cheesy and in one way, it was surprising that a film like this was even made and realizing that a film like this will never be made today. The world has changed a lot since then, our economy has suffered so much since then and “The Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” has somewhat been replaced in today’s society with “The Rich Kids of Instagram”.
But there is no doubt that people who grew up around that time and enjoyed film will feel nostalgic about “Troop Beverly Hills”. While those who didn’t may watch this film and may be critical of its schlocky storyline and irresponsible lean towards excessive consumerism. But I suppose this film wasn’t really made for that audience in mind either.
The Blu-ray release no doubt features the best presentation of this film as colors are vibrant and the ’80s music along with dialogue are crystal clear. It was great to have new featurettes with Shelley Long and producer Ava Ostern Fries, considering the film was loosely based on her life as den mother for her daughter and other children in Beverly Hills. But also remains a film that the spirit of mother and her daughter Camela (who passed away in 2004) will continue to live on, through this film. But the contributions that mother/daughter had back then continued on into adulthood as Cami co-founded the First School Scholarship Trust and was involved with fundraising for Westside Children’s Center.
And while the film may not have so much relevance today and Rodeo Drive has changed so much since the ’90s, aside from the rivalry between Beverly Hills and Culver City which still exists today, this film is a product of its era and will appeal primarily to those who grew up during that time and enjoyed the film.
The film has no doubt enjoyed cult status back when it was released on VHS in the early ’90s and syndication. And there are people who just love the lines that they have it memorized. The film has no doubt has its appeal.
Overall, if you loved “Troop Beverly Hills” and its quirky late ’80s comedy, then you’ll definitely enjoy the release of this film on Blu-ray!
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