Troop Beverly Hills is one of the most underrated girl power movies ever. The movie premiered in 1989, a year on the cusp of the ’90s before the Gulf War began when Hollywood was everything. It wasn’t just about the fabulous life of Beverly Hills residents, it’s a coming-of-age story about a group of girls, their troop leader, and the ultimate teen girl power movie predecessor to movies like Clueless and Mean Girls, both of which have similar themes.
I was 7 years old when this movie came out, and I have watched it dozens of times. As a little girl, it was one of my favorite movies because it gave me hope. I may not be rich or a wilderness girl, but I know – and did then – how to adapt and survive.
Reviewers and critics are often hard on this movie, but it’s worth a watch if you love three things: a good story, comedy, and a happy ending.
Here are my favorite things about Troop Beverly Hills:
Shelley Long – I’ve probably never seen another movie she’s been in, but I knew her from Cheers, so I recognized her at a young age. She’s over-the-top, super girly, and a little whiny. But she is a fantastic mother. As a mom, it’s hard not to respect a woman who never gives up and does everything she can to care for her daughter and troop. Long plays a loving and unconditionally accepting woman who goes above and beyond, no matter what obstacles she faces. She’s a great role model.
Unity – The movie brings together a diverse group of girls – both in the background and ethnicity – and shows how anything is possible when you work as a team. Sometimes we women struggle with female relationships because many times women are overly competitive, sneaky, and too cutthroat. Several “girl” movies deal with girl-on-girl crime, but Troop Beverly Hills shows that no matter what problems you have or how different you are, when woman (or people) come together, great things happen. It adds the team factor.
Relatability – Underlying themes include the struggles of divorce, neglectful parents, coming-of-age, money, power, politics, and fashion. It’s a great mother-daughter movie, although I bet there are some great dads out there who would enjoy it as well. When the movie came out, my parents were on the verge of divorce, so I related with Phyllis (Long) and her daughter Hannah (Jenny Lewis) the most. I could understand how the mom and child felt, and even today I bet there are thousands of kids who could do the same. It doesn’t matter how much money you have or what life you’ve lived, the theme of wanting a fulfilling life, sense of accomplishment, and love are something most of us always want.
Fun and Innocence – Sure there’s profanity, but it’s not overly done and used in the most passionate times. It’s a wholesome story that addresses serious issues in a fun, innovative way. Some of the fashion is ridiculous, the dialogue is smart, and there aren’t any shock scenes. I miss movies that work off the story instead of trying to amplify it for shock value. I miss movies with little if no CGI and good acting – movies that take a good story and characters and create a great movie. There are no overly dramatic scenes, and when there is drama, it is often followed with comedy to keep it lighthearted. We could all use a little more fun and innocence in our lives.
If you haven’t seen it or it’s been awhile, you should check it out. And feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below. We love to hear from you!
The film industry is built on sequels. In fact nearly the entire entertainment industry is built on sequels, reboots, and remakes. Of course the general perception is sequels, especially horror movie sequels, are worse than the original films and are usually just a cash-in to milk a franchise’s fans for more money. While I can see a point to this some sequels rise above that label and either build upon the first film’s successes or even improve it. When thinking of the best horror sequel one film always stands out to me…Aliens.
Yes it IS Horror: Before everyone goes on a rant that Jim Cameron’s follow-up to Alien isn’t a horror movie I provide personal evidence. I saw Alien and Aliens on the same night at about the age of 12. Alien I found interesting but slow and suspenseful. The creature looked great in quick, shadowy flashes and the scenes built suspense rather than fear. I was never afraid of the xenomorph, but I was afraid for the characters. That means it was a great movie, since I felt for the characters, but it didn’t scare me. Aliens however did scare me. One scene in particular had me checking under the bed and in the bathroom cabinets. The intense facehugger stalking scene where two of the little beasties are set loose on Ripley (of course played to perfection by Sigourney Weaver) and Newt (whose character’s dialogue still works its way into my every day speech). The tense nature of that scene, the fear and unknown presented by the monster and its location was relatable. Who has ever tried to smash a spider and missed? Then had the critter scurry out of site and stayed up all night watching for it to re-appear? That’s how I felt watching that scene. That’s why I checked all the nooks and crannies before bed that night. And in that one scene alone it proves its horror cred.
New Kinds of Victims: But it also transcends it. In most horror movies the protagonists are unwitting and helpless. Maybe they have a trick up their sleeves like in You’re Next that no one expected, but for the most part they are over their heads and faced with horrors they never anticipated and have to scramble to survive being picked off one by one. That’s not the case here. The protagonists are Colonial Marines, described in one scene as “tough hombres” and de-briefed by Ripley, who faced the alien creature before. They aren’t helpless, they are well-trained, tough, violent, and in the opening scenes of their landing show their precision and meddle. When the creatures turn up they’re simply lost at sea. It works even better than it did against the helpless crew of the Nostromo as we know these marines have handled problems like this before and are still terrified and overwhelmed by the xenomorphs. It works psychologically because you think if these people can’t stop xenomorphs what can? You identify with Ripley and Newt (and to some extent the colonists), regular non-marines who seemingly have no hope to survive. The aliens are wily, powerful, fearless, and the “Warrior” design is far more menacing than that of the original alien. The tone is sci-fi, action, and horror all rolled into one. The first film I can recall containing all those elements, and it’s this movie, rather than its predecessor, that spawned an entire new genre of horror-action-sci fi.
Lasting Impact: Finally it has serious, SERIOUS longevity in the culture. It is one of the most stolen concepts in modern media (Contra, Tyranids, Dead Space…etc…). Not only that but it battles with Scarface as one of the most quotable movies I’ve ever seen. “Game over man,” “Sweethearts,” “five-by-five,” all these quotes spawned from Aliens and even if they didn’t originate with the film you quote them from the film. If you don’t say “Game over, man; Game over” like Hudson you’re doing it wrong.
While trying to think of the “best horror sequel” I was torn. It came down between Aliens and Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. Dream Warriors certainly changed the landscape of the Nightmare movies, but Aliens changed the nature of sci-fi horror. It was tense, scary, bloody, action-packed, and even had a final girl. It surpassed the original to become a movie classic and infiltrated modern culture to create new genres and new kinds of horror experiences.
So to me Aliens is by far is the best horror sequel. Take it away Hudson:
The term “kids’ movie” has been colored as of late by the likes of Pixar and Dreamworks. They make many fine “family” films with lots of layers and advanced story telling, but in many ways these, often CGI films have neutered the kids movie genre. Certainly there were animated movies in years past, but in the 80s these were mixed in with movies marketed toward kids that weren’t toothless at all. Films like Gremlins and The Gate are movies about young teens or kids who go through a horrific experience, lots of action, gruesome scenes, but all aimed at a younger audience.
Best in the genre of horror movies for kids, for me, is Monster Squad. Hot on the heels of Ghostbusters this movie I feel modernized the Scooby Gang concept and gave birth to the Buffy the Vampire Slayers and Supernaturals to come later. Young, independent protagonists, fighting supernatural beings older authority figures can’t even fathom, let alone face. For those taking notes, here’s what made it such a great kids’ horror movie:
The Classics Return: After a generation of “new” slasher killers and gorehounds, some great some not-so-great, Monster Squad brings back the monsters that made the genre popular. Not just one or two but ALL of the great so-called “Universal” horror monsters, Dracula (yep with cape and tux), the Wolfman (pretty good animatronics), the Gillman (even BETTER animatronics), the Mummy, and the Frankenstein monster. All with their classic looks, all doing their classic things. Dracula creates his brides, leads the group, is the most together and menacing. Wolfman howls at the moon, Gillman glugs around being creepy while the Mummy lurches and staggers in bandages. The Frankenstein monster, true to his roots, remains both monstrous and sympathetic. The film even re-creates famous scenes in a new way, such as the famous Monster and girl by the lake sequence. It taught an entire generation of kids of the horror that came before. Well those who weren’t obsessed with the Crestwood series anyway. Even Van Helsing plays a key role. I didn’t even know who this vital character was when I saw this movie!
Kids Being Kids: Popular YouTube personality and “garme jurnalizt” Jim Sterling describes kids as basically “shitty adults.” That’s as apt a description as I can think of. REAL kids, neither the defanged yet endearing kids from modern movies like Paranorman and Frankenweenie, nor the extreme kids from the kidsploitation movies that show rampant juvenile crime and drug abuse, but the kids I knew and grew up with. They were smart asses, foul mouthed (especially when adults weren’t around), ignorant, and cruel to both friends and foes. Yet through all that we were still kids. We still played with toys, fantasized about goofy things, and could find joy in candy and cartoons. That is what great about the kids in Monster Squad I don’t think I’ve seen a more real version of kids on film in ages. Through all their idiot kid behavior and attitudes, they are still endearing and heroic. Not in forced ways or fake ways, but in ways kids can be. They fight monsters on their terms. It’s a great mixture of Son of Frankenstein and The Goonies.
Layers of Story: Subtle layers exist in this film beyond the monster hunting and horror fun. You hear parents arguing from the context and perspective of a kid who only knows whats going on from the yelling through the walls. You see bullied kids and tough kids. Most telling is Scary German Guy who says he knows true monsters. A tattoo on his arm tells us all we need to know without a flashback or narrative. Even the monsters are given background, Dracula calls the Monster an old friend. The Monster calls him master. There is story there we don’t know and are never privy to. It just lends itself to the depth.
It’s hard to put your finger on what makes this movie so classic. It is undeniably cheesy and a product of its time. It’s very 80s with kids in leather jackets (smelting silver in that jacket no less) being tough and cool and dated music montages but the story is epic and its horror roots firm and grounded. Yes there is a monster in the closet. Yes Wolfman has nards. And so does this movie.
I didn’t play a lot of board games as a kid. I played Candy Land, Cooties, Don’t Break the Ice, and Battleship, but we never really got a lot of board games to play. One I DO remember playing a lot of and enjoying was Clue. I had no idea about the Agatha Christie story on which it was based or even what the mystery genre was, but the grisly nature of it and the investigative thinking always made it fun.
I don’t recall ever winning…or losing at it to be honest. I’m not sure if I ever played through an ENTIRE game before my sister and I quit. But I loved to play it.
I was a young kid when the film adaptation came out so it totally passed me by. In fact I never saw it until the mid-1990s when it came out on HBO or Showtime, which ever movie channel our cable company offered at the time, and after seeing it ONE time it became absolutely one of my favorite comedies and likely has a place in my top ten favorite films list.
The premise is essentially the game. A group of strangers are in an old house. An individual, Mr. Boddy, is murdered and they go through the house looking for clues to see whodunit. The addition of the brilliant Tim Curry as the butler Wadsworth (adding to the mystery classic “the butler did it” cliché of the genre), the 50s setting, and the blackmail subplot all set the background of the manic plot, which plays out in a It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World kind of frenzy.
The entire casting is superb, my favorites (other than Curry….who is EVERYONE’S favorite) are Michael McKean as Mr Green, Martin Mull as Colonel Mustard, and the irreplaceable Madeline Kahn as Mrs. White. That’s not to downplay any of the rest of the cast, there wasn’t a single misstep in the casting which also includes Christopher Lloyd as Professor Plum, Lesley Ann Warren as Miss Scarlet, Eileen Brennan as Mrs. Peacock, and Colleen Camp as the first French maid I ever saw on film…
In addition to the great acting and cast, the film offers some of the funniest dialog set pieces and is as quotable as the Godfather and Scarface combined. From Tim Curry’s patented “NNnnnoo” (which is delivered at its best here), to the finest rapid-fire comedy exchanges this side of Abbot and Costello.
Mrs. White: We had had a very humiliating public confrontation. He was deranged. He was a lunatic! He didn’t actually seem to like me very much; he had threatened to kill me in public. Miss Scarlet: Why would he want to kill you in public? Wadsworth: I think she meant he threatened, in public, to kill her.
The Motorist: Where is it? Wadsworth: What? The body? The Motorist: The phone. What body? Wadsworth: There’s no body. Nobody. There’s-there’s nobody in the study.
Professor Plum: What is your top-secret job, Colonel? Wadsworth: I can tell you. He’s working on the secret of the next fusion bomb. Colonel Mustard: How did you know that? Wadsworth: Can you keep a secret? Colonel Mustard: Yes. Wadsworth: So can I…
And what has become my person favorite moment:
Wadsworth: You see? Like the Mounties, we always get our man. Mr. Green: Mrs. Peacock was a man!? (Colonel Mustard slaps Mr. Green, who spins from the recoil and is slapped again by Wadsworth)
One of the innovations with this film was multiple endings. No, not the lame dvd extra fodder that every movie makes now…but actual endings, released with different prints of the film. There were three endings and depending when and where you saw the film you may see a completely different ending from someone who saw the film elsewhere or at a different showing. It’s the kind of gimmick that harkens back to the William Castle days of showmanship and shows real deference to the source material. I never got to see it in theaters, but I can only imagine discussing this movie with friends and arguing over the ending…without realizing we were all (technically) right!
Clue is without a doubt fast-paced fun. Detractors describe it as overly frantic and silly, but it IS that kind of movie. It’s also very smart, incredibly well-written, and still one of the funniest films about a series of gruesome murders ever to be made. To quote Joe Bob, “Four Stars…check it out!”
As an aside, I’m such a fan of this movie that I find dialog and quotes seeping into my daily language almost subconsciously. This can go remarkably awry. Once in college I was at lunch with a very attractive girl who was telling me an interminable and flaky story. She ended said story with the classic “To make a long story short…” to which I reflexively responded “Too late!” thanks to Clue she was not happy…and the date, so to speak, met its end killed by me, in the Dining Room, with a smart-ass comment…