This past Saturday, I was flipping through Netflix with my boyfriend when I spotted a familiar movie poster. That hair… those khakis…. that unmistakable Beverly Hills shaped sign…
This is one of my all-time favorite movies, Troop Beverly Hills (starring the fabulous Shelley Long). Imagine my shock to see that it is available for viewing instantly at my fingertips. My boyfriend didn’t want to watch it. I was devastated. I quickly alerted my friend Bianca via text that the movie was available, so we made plans to watch it immediately.
Bianca came over and we settled in with some
Bailey’s spiked hot cocoa. If you haven’t seen Troop Beverly Hills, I suggest you do. If you cannot handle the shopping, cookies, and glamour in all its glory, then I can summarize it for you. Here we go:
First things first, no movie from this era was complete without an animated intro accompanied with horrible 80’s music. This movie starts out with over three minutes of this.
It begins at the Southern California Headquarters for the Wilderness Girls (aka Girl Scouts, but the producers probably couldn’t get the rights to use the Girl Scouts name).
A meeting of all the upper management Wilderness Girls trolls is taking place. They are discussing the affairs of different troops. They then bring up the subject of Troop Beverly Hills, which is basically hanging on by a thread. The troop cannot maintain a Troop Leader nor a steady attendance of Wilderness Girls. A new Troop Leader application has been submitted by Phyllis Nefler.
Our girl Phyllis is the queen of unnaturally red hair, goddess of late 80’s/early 90’s fashion trends, and a Rodeo Drive shopping
addict enthusiast. She lives in this humble abode with singer Jenny Lewis (aka her daughter, Hannah) and her soon-to-be ex-husband Craig T. Nelson (aka I forget his name), who resides in the guest house. Oh wait, his name is Freddie.
Phyllis returns home from a day of light retail therapy on her husband’s dime. She jokes about how her husband won’t receive the bill until after the divorce to her housekeeper and confidant, Rosa (who is the real star of the film).
Freddie overhears the whole conversation. Whoopsies.
They get into a soon-to-be-divorced couple squabble about money, Phyllis’ lack of skills/ambition, Freddie’s dumbbells… etc.
They venture up to their cozy in-home gym where Hannah is casually practicing her gymnastics skills on her in-home gymnastics equipment. Freddie attempts to collect his dumbbells. Hannah brings up Troop Leader orientation. Freddie scoffs and doesn’t think Phyllis is capable of fulfilling her Troop Leader duties. Another squabble ensues.
For the purposes of this blog post, Phyllis will be affectionately known as “Phyl” going forward. Phyl invites all of the girls from the troop for a low key get-together at her home. All of the girls arrive in style/cars I could never afford in my life. The livelihood of the parents range from Hollywood director to Dictator to broke as a joke washed up actor. Phyl sports this fabulous upside-down tea party taco ensemble.
Phyl and the girls make a trip to this uniform superstore (aka Walmart for cookie peddlers). She tries on this khaki frock which may as well be some sort of smelly, rotting carcass she has slipped onto her body.
She hurriedly takes the rags to this tailor/magician who also has colonial-era hair. She begs him to turn this garbage into something wearable. His eyes basically burn out of his head.
All of the Wilderness Girls trolls meet for the Troop Leader orientation meeting. Two of them leave because they assumed this would include making cookies with toddlers (spoiler alert: it doesn’t). Enter Phyl…
Working the room like a cat walk in her newly designed Wilderness Girls green silk-lined cape and skirted suit containing more buttons than I can count.
The head troll, Velda Plendor, stares her down with her judgey eyes.
So does Velda’s troll sidekick, Annie Herman. Velda ultimately shoots down every good idea Phyl has during the meeting and makes it abundantly clear that she hates her.
That evening, as Phyl is casually lounging in her bedtime cape, she hears something approaching through the gates of her home.
Phyl can hear trollop coming from a mile away, which is another one of her many skills and talents.
Hannah assures Phyl that she is not to worry. The late night visitor is just Freddie’s
rebound realtor, Lisa.
In a masochistic attempt to watch any hope of preserving her marriage vanish before her very eyes, Phyl uses binoculars to spy on them. She then proceeds to fall off of her patio, into a tree, and onto the ground as Freddie and Lisa watch (and don’t even ask if she’s ok). In case you were wondering, her bedtime cape did not assist her in flying.
Once Phyl has recovered from her treacherous fall, she prepares for the first Troop Beverly Hills Wilderness Girls campout. Hannah and her lone bedroll judge Phyl’s assortment of Louis Vuitton luggage from underneath her super trendy aviators.
Velda had suggested that the troop camp under the stars. Literally. They camped directly underneath the Hollywood sign.
The girls adorn their rugged camping locale with a mosquito net lined glamping cabana and fully catered mess hall tent.
Phyl, being the responsible adult and only chaperone, guzzles champagne in her lounge chair. The girls become bored and ask Phyl what they are supposed to accomplish on this outing.
The only valuable wilderness skill Phyl is able to teach them is how to make “fondue al fresco”. The girls applaud in excitement.
A loud clap of thunder and sudden downpour put a damper on fondue hour. The girls run to the tent while Phyl gets stuck in the mud. I’m sure that rain soaked fur coat isn’t doing her any favors in the gravity department. Neither are those heels, really.
In an effort to save dessert and continue to look fabulous at the same time, Phyl grabs her hat and courageously carries the fondue in her mouth as she crawls to safety in the cabana.
Feeling soggy, defeated, and probably hung over at this point, Phyl decides to relocate the campout. But first, they must sing kumbaya.
Phyl and the girls take refuge in a slightly less rugged locale, the Beverly Hills Hotel. Bungalow 4.
After stuffing their faces with room service and settling down by the fire, the girls begin to tell scary stories. Phyl tells a story about going to her hair salon, but her regular stylist is not available. The substitute stylist horrifyingly perms her hair!
The girls react in sheer horror.
The shame. The terror. And ew, permed hair.
The next morning, head troll Velda barges in like a giant wet blanket and rudely refuses cappuccino and “qua-son”. She explains that her troop, the Red Feathers, stayed at the same campsite last week. They had lived on berries, squirrel meat, and never once did they have to go to the bathroom. Sounds like the plot of the Hunger Games to me. Velda continues to insult everything Phyl does. She even goes so far as to say that she will never be a real Wilderness Girl. Ouch.
The next Wilderness Girls event is the Annual Wilderness Craft Day. The Red Feathers make some weird teepee. Or weapons. I wasn’t really sure. They had a lot going on.
Vintage Tori Spelling is a Red Feather. I suppose she wasn’t allowed to play herself as one of the Troop Beverly Hills girls. They laugh at Phyl after she asks where they bought their patches. You have to earn them. Duh. The blonde is Velda’s daughter, although Velda makes her pretend she isn’t. I see some intensive therapy in her future.
In true Beverly Hills fashion, the girls present their genius wilderness craft: a portable Georgio Armani backpack closet for camping. I actually want one of these.
Tori Spelling accuses them from being from Mars and they are basically laughed off the stage.
Velda assumed that Phyl would have quit after their conversation in Bungalow 4. She then extorts Annie into becoming an assistant troop leader to spy on Phyl. She threatens Annie with having to get a job at K-Mart if she doesn’t do what she says. Velda also tracks down this teeny tiny camera.
She turns this Wilderness Girls handbook into a sneaky picture-taking, not at all obvious, spying device. Pretty creative and technologically advanced for the 80’s, if you ask me.
At the next troop meeting, the girls sit around in the Friendship Circle expressing their disappointment with how the craft event turned out. They label themselves as weird losers. They decide that they need to earn some patches, so Phyl has the genius idea of making up their own.
The first patch the girls earn is the Grooming patch. Do these girls ever go to school?
Phyl thinks she is helping Annie by getting her “the works”. She really is just torturing her by practically waxing her to death.
Next up is the Jewelry Appraisal patch. This little red-headed girl rocks it. She accurately guessed “$82 thou”. Chump change, for sure.
Officer Bill comes over to the home gym so the girls can earn the CPR patch. He chooses Phyl as his volunteer and freshens his breath before
going in for the kill administering CPR.
The girls are curious and disgusted all at the same time. Phyl gets his number.
Phyl teaches the girls all sorts of outdated dances so their can earn their Dance patch. She teaches them things like the Mashed Potato and the Freddie. All of these girls looks like real winners here. Let’s not talk about the clothes.
Next, the girls attempt to earn the Old Folks Home patch. This consists of 11 year old girls giving inappropriate magazines to old men.
They also teach the Golden Girls how to do the Freddie.
Phyl appropriately drags the girls to her divorce proceeding in order to earn the Divorce Court patch. She urges them to never get married in Reno since the community property laws in California cannot be beat.
Freddie’s attorney requests that the divorce process be expedited as his client is considering remarriage. RUDE. To the trollop?? In front of his daughter??
A devastated Phyl is comforted by the girls. They decide to take a field trip to the jewelry store. Again, do these girls ever go to school?
After giving a valuable lesson about the turquoise jewelry movement, Phyl announces that the girls have earned 36 patches in 3 weeks. She has planned a shindig on a boat for their Patch Ceremony.
The caveat is that the girls will have to provide $7.50 each for the patches. This girl, the daughter of the broke as a joke washed up actor, exclaims that this whole thing is stupid and storms out because she will not be able to afford the patches.
Phyl consoles her with a story about how she tried to buy designer bedding and had her credit card cut up in front of all the other customers. Somehow, this made the girl feel better.
The little red-headed girl swoops in to save the day with what is likely a billion dollar bill.
The patch ceremony is a small gathering of the girls and their families on a yacht. Phyl proudly presents all the patches.
After accepting her patches, Hannah ducks down as each of her parents go in to kiss her. They end up kissing each other. Smooth move, Hannah.
The trollop is so shocked and angered by the kiss that she loses her balance and falls of the boat. She screams out for a life saver but Phyl offers her the candy kind.
Velda presents all the photos Annie took as evidence to prove that Phyl is an unfit Troop Leader and to disband Troop Beverly Hills. The nice old lady stops eating her cookies long enough to strongly disagree. Velda decides to take extraordinary measures and forces Annie to find a way to move in with Phyl. She reminds Annie of the opportunity she has waiting for her at K-Mart.
Annie tells Phyl that her home is being fumigated and Phyl gladly takes her in. Phyl asks Annie if she has a boyfriend or even any guy friends. The answer is no. Things get weird. Rosa interrupts their roomie bonding sesh to alert Phyl that there is a very sad Carla Gugino (aka Chica) downstairs.
Chica’s parents decided to take a last minute trip to Monte Carlo. They didn’t mean to leave her on her birthday. Phyl consoles Chica as she sobs into her polka dots.
Rosa whips up this truly disgusting birthday cake. What is this? Salsa and refried bean cake with an XL Hot Pocket as a garnish? And THEN icing? I would want to forget my birthday too.
In any event, Chica is thrilled to have warm fuzzies and a garbage cake for her birthday.
Cookie ordering day comes and everyone lines up to pick up their cookies. Velda once again abuses her power and demands that Phyl turn in all of their make-believe patches.
The girls gracefully hand them back. They exclaim that they can make up for it by selling a billion cookies.
Rosa makes the most captivating statement of the entire film. That’s right, Rosa. They don’t. Because in 10 years they will be collecting dust in an attic or Goodwill anyway.
The smug little Red Feathers think they’re so ambitious standing there with their dollies. They order 1,000 boxes of cookies. Whoa.
Troop Beverly Hills orders 2,000 boxes cookies. Take that, Red Feathers.
The girls begin going door-to-door around the neighborhood to sell their thousands of cookies. A very confused Kareem Abdul-Jabbar answers the door with cookie in hand. He explains that he already bought cookies from their friends.
Friends? What friends?
Those stinkin’ Red Feathers were going around selling cookies on Troop BV’s turf and saturating their sales region.
Annie realizes that Velda is the worst the throws her spying device and handbook into a perfectly lined Beverly Hills sidewalk trash can.
Phyl hosts a star-studded parent’s meeting to discuss what their next plan of action is. Of course, they offer to just buy all the cookies themselves, but Phyl believes that the girls still need to do this on their own. She wears a very sparkly bird on her shoulder.
The trollop impatiently waits in her jalopy while Freddie drops Hannah off inside.
Freddie returns and Lisa lashes out at him for almost staying for the meeting. He then says, “she’ll always be my wife”. What he meant to say was “daughter”. Oops. Lisa kicks him to the curb for good.
The girls come up with a few inventive ways to sell their cookies. First, they put on a musical performance on Rodeo Drive to a song called “Cookie Time”. This should have been an award-winning chart topper if you ask me. Rosa shakes her maracas.
“Cookie Time” is a smashing success. These people act like this is the first time they’re being introduced to cookies in their lives.
The girls crash lunch time at Spago to sell cigars, cigarettes, and cookies. I am not sure they are old enough to sell tobacco products. This woman in front had the best hair.
This girl is the child star daughter of a dirty novelist. She accompanies her mom’s book signing by signing cookies. Way to work the celebrity card.
I’m sorry, but selling cookies in front of Jane Fonda’s workout is both evil and a genius idea. Someone needs to tell that woman to never wear those leggings again as long as she is going to tuck her leotard into them. Also, lady on the left in the stripedy sweatsuit. Half of the workout has got to be trying to work out in all that fabric.
Phyl throws a fashion show and hires Robin Leech to run it. This is Pia Zadora, which I’m sure no one has heard of since this film. Robin Leech says, “khaki wishes and cookie dreams”. Amazing.
Phyl calls Velda to let her know that they didn’t sell 1,000 boxes of cookies. They sold 4,732. This is Velda’s reaction. She invites Velda to come to their black tie check presentation ceremony.
At the ceremony, Freddie asks Phyl to dance and tells her how proud he is of her. He also mentions that he needs to talk to her about something important. Are they going to get back together?
After having Hannah do her makeup and raiding Phyl’s closet, Annie shows up dressed up like a Mean Girl.
Velda shows up dressed like Mrs. Doubtfire.
Phyl presents the check and Velda rudely snatches it out of her hands.
Phyl and Freddie sit down to make googly eyes at each other and have a heart-to-heart. Phyl thinks this is going to be the big “getting back together” conversation.
Well, it’s not. Freddie alerts Phyl that he will be filing for joint custody of Hannah after the divorce is finalized.
In an attempt to dramatically storm away, Phyl falls into the pool. How embarrassing.
After sending Hannah off to spend an evening at her dad’s dumpy beach condo, this hag shows up to scare Phyl out of attending the Annual Wilderness Jamboree.
Ok, so maybe Freddie’s condo isn’t so dumpy after all. He smothers Hannah with pizza and Nintendo. She lashes out at him, refers to herself as a ping pong ball, and begs him to get back together with her mom. It’s heartbreaking, really.
Meanwhile, a lonely Phyl is crying over old home movies and OD’ing on Evian water. Come to think of it, was Phyl trying to hurt herself? Viewers may think it’s humorous that she is drinking her sorrows away with water like it’s booze, but I’m pretty sure that amount of water can kill you. Her dirty novelist friend comes over and becomes worried about Phyl when she doesn’t want to go shopping. I guess she checked the mail on her way up and hands Phyl a letter from the Family Court. I am really not sure why her friend is so nosy or why this scene was pertinent to the film.
Phyl, looking frumpy but not, holds a meeting to tell the girls that they will not be attending the Jamboree and that the whole thing is just over. The girls tell Phyl she is their role model, say really nice things, etc. and that they have to attend the Jamboree to prove that they’re real Wilderness Girls.
Freddie has pulled Hannah away from the Nintendo long enough to drop her off for the meeting. He encourages Phyl to take the girls to the Jamboree.
The day of the Jamboree has come and Velda plays it off like Troop BV isn’t coming. Please, everyone knows they are just fashionably late.
Velda unsafely shoots her gun into the air, signaling that the Jamboree has begun. The Red Feathers hastily cross the Start line.
Troop BV shows up in style. I don’t know whose idea it was to paint the sides of these expensive vehicles. That is a terrible idea.
Velda fires Annie from her Assistant Troop Leader position so she can no longer go through the course with the Troop. Phyl and the girls are left to fend for themselves. Annie still thinks Velda is the worst. The girls strap on their Georgio Armani camping closets and speed past the Start line.
In an effort to lose Troop BV, Tori Spelling and Co. make a human ladder and turn one of their directional arrows to point in the wrong direction.
Phyl and the girls end up in a pudding-like swamp. Also, this is an extremely inappropriate event for heels. What is Phyl thinking?
A very large snake lives in this swamp. The girls beat feet.
They stumble upon another little forest creature and hightail it out of there as well.
Annie and the other Jamboree officials see the Red Feathers approaching the first stopping point. It appears that they are winning.
BUT, Phyl and the girls are still running away from the skunk, so they end up reaching the stopping point first. Then they keep running.
In order to get revenge on the poor, innocent skunk, Velda kills him. And eats him. AND MAKES A HAT OUT OF HIM. She is so gross.
Velda makes the decision to send the Red Feather’s leader “home sick” so she is forced to take over. That troll is such a cheater.
The second day approaches and the girls start their adventure out with a little Beverly Hills jig and song.
The girls stumble along the bridge they are supposed to use to cross the ravine. Velda had already escorted her troop across and cut the connecting rope.
Phyl accepts that all hope is lost and throws a hissy fit. I am not sure if she should be more upset about the bridge or the fact that she is wearing the most unflattering pants in the history of pants.
Velda is dumb. Just a few feet away, there is a sturdy log that conveniently seems to be just about the same length as the ravine. Idiot.
Phyl attempts to walk across the log. Heels are now officially the dumbest idea.
She tries to grab onto a tiny branch for balance and falls. Hannah chooses to utilize the gymnastics skills she learned in her home gym to rescue Phyl.
I suppose she was taught never to look down because her boot gets stuck in the log.
Phyl goes back to free Hannah’s foot from log doom. She manages to drag Hannah across while lecturing her about getting on the log in the first place.
Phyl could not see through her full mom mode fog that she and Hannah made it across.
Somehow they managed to reconnect an entire bridge around a tree and get across it without losing much time. They tread on.
Velda and the Red Feathers decide to take a shortcut. After ignoring Tori Spelling’s warning about how the area is meant for hunters and trappers, Velda falls into a trap.
Her ankle is broken. Yup, that’s broken.
Her daughter throws some food and water at her and says that they will come back for her after they win. Like mother like daughter.
The Red Feathers leave her there for the bears and lonely mountain men.
Troop BV finds her and also determines that her ankle is broken. You’re just wasting time here, people.
After much deliberation, the girls decide to turn their travel closets into a stretcher and drag Velda along for the rest of their journey.
Velda whines the whole time while small children drag her troll body. Way to be ungrateful, Velda.
The Red Feathers round the finish line first and are declared the winners. Everyone is so mad. Even one of the fathers of the Troop BV girls came in with his Hollywood director equipment to film them victoriously cross the finish line. What a waste of time and probably a million dollars.
When the nice old lady sees that the Red Feathers crossed the finish line without their leader, she disqualifies them. This blonde girl, being the sore loser that she is, steals the trophy and runs off with Tori Spelling.
The Troop and Velda cross the finish line. I’m assuming all of these other girls are the losers who didn’t sell enough cookies to get into the Jamboree.
The nice old lady declares Troop BV as the winners! Hooray! Velda, who should not be bearing any weight on that ankle, furiously scrambles onstage.
She goes insane and expresses what a sore loser she is just like her daughter. The nice old lady fires her. Velda storms off spouting nonsense about seceding and starting her own Wilderness Girls organization called Plendor’s Pilgrims. Sounds awful. She drives away in her Jeep. Again, she should not be bearing any weight on that ankle.
Freddie and Rosa show up to show Phyl and Hannah their support. I really like their sunglasses.
Freddie asks if he can kiss the troop leader. What? Where did this come from? Oh well. Everyone is happy and joins them in doing the Beverly Hills jig and song.
The girls got what they wanted all along… to be the 1990 Wilderness Girls poster troop!
After threatening Annie with it for so long, Velda now works at K-Mart. She ironically announces a sale on cookies. What goes around comes around, VELDA!