TROOP BEVERLY HILLS (1988)

Lets talk about this masterpiece. Chances are, you’ve already seen it, loved it and think about it  and stumbled on this post. If so, then lets chat about what’s possibly the finest film ever made. At least the best ever made about being a Girl Scout in Beverly Hills.

If you don’t know what its about, well all you need to know is that Shelley Long IS Phyllis Neffler, a soon to be divorcee living in Beverly Hills, who takes over her daughters Wilderness Girls troop and teaches them what its really like to survive life. You know who really gets the life lesson here? Phyllis Neffler. And she does it in glorious 80s style.

So instead of going through characters and themes of this movie, lets talk about the important lessons we learned from this movie.

1.  Always look on the positive side of things.

Its hard to get Phyllis down. Her husband is leaving her and has forced a mirror in her face of what her life is REALLY about. Despite it being harsh news, she takes it like a champ and decides to challenge herself doing something she’s never done before.  Hello, Wilderness Girls!

2.   Money isn’t everything, but friends and family are.

Something about these kids brings this out. Phyllis’ social life is a bit of a mystery. She has her Joan Collins-esque friend…

…who’s fabulous in her own way, but what kind of support does she really have? Hello, Wilderness Girls! Where would she be without them? Like in my life, there’s this woman named Marilyn in the finance department who sends out emails saying we need to cut back on Office Depot orders but she’s not realizing that if you have friends in other departments, they can make orders for you.

3.  You can take anything and make it glamorous.

I hate camping. I’ve never been, but I can tell you now – nothing about it appeals to me. So when I see the way Phyllis Neffler camps, sign me up. She made fondue and took the girls to the Beverly Hills Hotel. Seriously, SIGN ME UP.

4.   If you’re unsure of anything in life, then make it your own.

Phyllis took a drab Wilderness Girls dress and turned it into MAGIC.

The structuring of that jacket isn’t what makes it magic. Its the fact that she saw something she didn’t like and did something about it. I hate khaki, but she makes a strong case for it. Marilyn from Finance likes to send out excel spreadsheet templates that make no sense. You take those templates and give her a pie chart. Shuts them up everytime.

5.  There is no enemy too great that you can’t take on.

Meet the Red Feathers. Sure, Tori Spelling is a member, but the important thing to consider is that every enemy has a weakness. There’s was also the one thing getting them ahead, which was their “Kill or be Killed” attitude. Maybe it works in the here and now, but it will catch up with you when you leave your mother in a ditch with a broken ankle.

6.  How to sell cookies.

Instead of going to door to door, make the market come to you. Stake out Jane Fonda’s Workout gym chains or coordinate a fabulous pool party at your house. Everyone likes cookies – including Marilyn from finance who takes the boxes in the breakroom home with her every week.

And never underestimate the power of working the crowd with a heart pumping choreographed number:

7.   If you don’t like how people make you earn their approval, then make your own merit badges.

Maybe you’ll never be in a situation where you have to learn how to make a campfire or bind a wound. Thats because that’s not crucial to your environment. That’s when Phyllis stepped it up and had her girls learn truly useful things like how to appraise jewelry and how to be active in your community.

Those are some fabulous patches.

8.  You can’t “win” him back. You can only make yourself attractive for the world.

Man, Freddy. This guy made all of his money with Phyllis at his side and then traded her in for a younger and hotter real estate agent. If your goals of self improvement involve winning a man back, then you’re doing it wrong. Win yourself back. If he’s a real man, he’ll see what he’s missing.

9.  Never let the bullies get you down.

Despite the emotional beat down Velda gave Phyllis, it never stopped her from offering her a smile and a cappucino. Velda never came around, but it didn’t matter in the end. Phyllis got to be the poster woman for Wilderness leadership and Velda settled back for a career in customer service. That’s how the universe works sometimes.

Also never get married in Reno. Because reasons.

10. Dress for the person you are, not the person that others want you to be.
Look, I take a stand against wearing sweatpants to work (although Marilyn in Finance feels differently as she has given up on life altogether), but other than that, every day is your own occassion and dress for whatever comes your way. 

I don’t know how one would sit in this either but does it really matter?

Is it culturally insensitive when you’re teaching the value of turquoise to all cultures?

Bet you don’t give up on gardening as quickly if you’re wearing this.

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MAID TO ORDER (1987)

You guys…YOU GUYS.

This movie is not to be confused with Maid in Manhattan or any of number of maid themed porn videos that can be found online.  This is also not the American answer to Downton Abbey.

I had totally forgotten this slice of ’80s heaven  until it found me. So I sat down, took it in and was immediately whisked away to a magical place called 1987 where I drank apple juice, ate tuna fish sandwiches and watched this movie when I was done practicing my violin. There might have been a My Little Pony sitting next to me at the time, I don’t know.

The question is, how has this movie held up now that almost 30 years have gone by?

The plot for those of you who never saw it is that Ally Sheedy, years after her stint in breakfast clubs and St. Elmo’s Fires (possibly around the same time as Short Circuit) plays a spoiled rich girl who is about to get un-Cinderellafied, thanks to a fairy godmother who comes in the form of the mom from the Vacation movies. So she becomes a maid and learns important life lessons like how to treat other maids and how to hit on hunky chauffers with budding music careers.

Behold, the most ’80s title cards you will ever see…

I need to point out first and foremost that the fashion in this movie is AMAZING. True, there will never be an occasion to wear a top hat with a giant tulle bow in the back, but this movie gives you hope that maybe someday there will be. Also, this movie would like to hit you over the head with the Cinderella metaphor.

My impression of a cool sort of adulthood was doing exactly this.  I’m sorry to report that this movie lied to me and I have never gotten to do this while wearing that.

Behold another still from the adulthood I’ll never have -looking chic in a ragged ballgown and sunglasses, sitting on the street.

Ally Sheedy doesn’t deserve the life a princess because she asks her father for money and questions charities. I think we’ve all been there.

Enter the fairy godmother – she smokes and in all honesty, is pretty awesome.

Our heroine goes on her first job interview in the best outfit ever (see torn ballgown from above) and is promptly hired to be a maid based on the fact she’s never worked before and that she’s white. She also eats the interviewer’s donuts. This is another lie this movie perpetrates about adulthood – although I’ve never tried any of these tactics while job hunting.

 The story posits that because our heroine is rich and has never had a job, she doesn’t know what hair plugs or that you shouldn’t point at people’s bandages and ask what happened. 

Once again, a classic movie trope – the sassy black friend!

“She’s white and therefore I have no faith in her as a maid.  Also, I’m a cook and not a  singer. Not that you asked.”

I don’t care how much life experience you have – ironing Spandex is difficult. It should also be said that leopard print ones should never been allowed in the first place.

The other maid hates her – she’s also sassy but in a non sassy black friend sort of way.

Behold the best part of this movie. THESE TWO. Honestly, they should have been given their own movie. Or a show. I spent this movie wanting to spend more time with them

Our heroine spends her day off wearing a Prince shirt, high waisted jeans and going through her coworkers stuff.. I’d criticize her, but I think we’ve all been there.

She learns how to ride a bus – I think this was the low point in her character arc.

“Girl, I am a cook and not a singer, so stop bugging me to sing for you.  Don’t make me sing, because I’ll do it….”

 “Look, I’m just a poor chauffer that’s actually a talented songwriter who no one will give a chance.  Also, you’re the only available girl here so we’re going to start up an obligatory relationship despite a differences in background. Wanna go eat Mexican food in a seedy, non health regulated restaurant?”

 Seriously, these two should have their own movie.  SOMETHING.

 “Well, you earned minimum wage and made friends with people from a lower tax bracket than you. I’d say you learned your lesson and get your old life back. I hope the lesson sticks because I’d hate to put you somewhere where you’re actually surrounded by a lower class.”

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