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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Caveman (1981)

As long as there’s been an influx of pop stars who have been marketed above us mere mortals, there have been pop stars who feel they can act. Sometimes they actually can (say what you want, Dolly Parton made a 9 to 5 world plausible…) and there are those who can’t.

That’s my way of saying, I watched “Caveman”. Ringo Starr is in it.

Ringo Starr, commonly thought of as the luckiest man alive (also see my post on William Shatner’s tour de force performance in 80’s TV paranoia The Babysitter), stars in this story of a budding civilization faced with the conflict and trials of battling evolution and discovering one’s theological center.  Just kidding. Its the story of a drummer who put on skins, mugs a lot and occasionally gets farted on while walking into scenes with claymation dinosaurs.

Best actor in this whole movie was the hand supplied to this puppet.

I will say this – the monsters in this were kind of cute.

If you enjoy your movies with lots of grunting, and a tuba heavy soundtrack that never lets up, then by all means, throw this on. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT, watch this….without paying attention the action on screen. Unless you enjoy 90s minutes of moaning and groaning.

It should be noted…

This is meant to be Ringo’s show, and it is – but Dennis Quaid and Shelley Long are along for the ride. Its probably best that this movie rarely comes up in conversations about them.  Until now.
Its almost painful how seriously Dennis took this role.

Dear sweet Shelley Long – she played this the same as if Cheers was set in the Fertile Crescent. Diane Chambers of today, Diane Chambers of the yesterday.

There’s a bit of love triangle in that Ringo hits on the sister of Daisy Duke, but she’s not interested. Then he’s no longer interested (when Shelley Long’s in the house, you tend to rethink these things) she changes her mind. Women, amirte?!?!?

 I just posted the screenshot because it was kind of a cool shot. Even if clay is the biggest thing used in the scene.

Lets talk about Shelley Long – she has her Diane Chambers hair, her words are garbled, but there’s a faux-college snobbish tone involved even when she leads a blind man next to a large pool of water (spoiler alert: he still falls in).

This movie is clearly a fantasy – not because there’s cavemen and dinosaurs but because this is a universe where time after time, Ringo keeps saving the day. I’m pretty sure there’s three Beatles who would beg to differ.

Also, if you thought to yourself, “Its been so long since I’ve had to think about what it would look like for Ringo Starr to squat…” then by all means throw this on. Its 90 minutes of that, but, another spoiler alert, he does learn to walk upright.

Usually I stay away from writing about movies that are intentional comedies (I was burned and burned badly by the cinematic offerings of the Insane Clown Posse). But I went into this one just out of the sheer earnestness that the actors. They gave it their all despite a screenplay with only grunts and moans, and being required to walk around like auditioning dancers on So You Think You Can Dance.

There are moments, slight glimmers in Shelley Long’s eyes that say, “Please let Cheers be a hit. Please let Cheers be a hit…”

Meanwhile, Ringo’s just passing time until the next Sgt Peppers rerelease. Also, we learn that the cavemen don’t walk upright, but there’s no real consistency in how they walk. Some drag their arms on the ground, some are just bent slightly, as if carrying Target shopping bags filled with candy. Others, like this larger gentlemen, just aren’t trying at all. #evolution.

At one point, Ringo invents music, which I have to say, falls enthusiastically under the file “RINGO’S IMAGINATION”

No one can resist the charm of Shelley Long.  I know I can’t.

And in the end, Ringo has a difficult decision to make, one that’s been universal since the begining of time. Brunette vs blonde?

And he goes with Shelley Long. Because you do not..repeat, DO NOT say no to Shelley Long.

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