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Film: Troop Beverly Hills

Troop Beverly Hills is a 1989 film starring Shelley Long as Phyllis Neffler, a ditzy but good-hearted Beverly Hills socialite with a marriage on the rocks, her husband seeking divorce over her profligate spending habits and inability to follow through with anything.

Phyllis' most recent project is to take over as troop leader of the Girl Scout-esque "Wilderness Girls" of the Beverly Hills chapter, which is a paltry eight-girl ensemble including Phyllis' own daughter Hannah and other girls of wealthy Beverly Hills backgrounds. Her contributions include taking the troop out "roughing it" in a hotel suite rather than a campground (to avoid all the bugs and a lack of electrical outlets), taking the traditional uniform to a fashion designer for improvements, and awarding her charges patches for skills such as "jewelery appraisal" and "Gardening with glamor".

All of this earns her the ire of Wilderness Girls district leader Velda Plendor, who takes the "wilderness" aspect very seriously and sees Phyllis as an affront to everything the group stands for. Velda pulls out all the stops to get Phyllis discredited and fired, but even in situations her money can't buy her out of, Phyllis perseveres through a little ingenuity and sheer pluck. It all leads to a showdown at the annual jamboree, where Troop Beverly Hills will compete against Velda's Culver City Red Feathers, trekking through actual wilderness in a race to the finish where the winners will be the Wilderness Girls' poster troop for the year...

This film provides examples of:

  • Alpha Bitch: Interestingly played with, in that it is Cleo Plendor, Velda's daughter and the poster child of Velda's idea of the Wilderness Girls, who treats the daughters of socialites, celebrities, and dictators as trash.
    • Velda herself is pretty much the main Alpha Bitch of the entire organization even though she's a grown woman.
  • Animated Credits Opening: The film's opening was animated by Spumco, John K's independent studio.
  • Anticipatory Breath Spray: The officer who demonstrates CPR on Phyllis.
  • Avoid the Dreaded G Rating: Uses of the word "bitches" and "shit".
  • Becoming the Mask: Annie, who does a Heel-Face Turn from being The Mole into a genuine friend of the troop.
  • Bland-Name Product: The Wilderness Girls is a common fiction stand in for the Girl Scouts.
  • Boomerang Comeback
    Velda: Oh, I'll tell you about the buttons, you senile old bag.
    Mrs. Temple: I may be old, and I may be senile. The only thing that's bagged around here is you. You're fired!
  • The Cameo: By a bunch of Real Life people who lived in Beverly Hills at the time.
  • Chick Magnet: The super-handsome cop who shows up to teach the girls first aid, if their response to his asking for a volunteer is any indication....
    • Cutely enough, when the girls all yell "ME!", he points at Phyllis without missing a beat: "You."
  • Cruella to Animals: Velda actually kills a wild skunk, and then wears it as a hat, for indirectly making her troop lose the first competition.
  • Dartboard of Hate: Velda gets one for Phyllis.
  • Divorce Is Temporary: Fred sees Phyllis's dedication to the scout troop, and realizes she is not so "flighty" after all.
    • Initially Phyllis felt that way, having a change of heart about the divorce, until Fred told her he was seeking joint custody of Hannah.
  • The Eighties: Tail end of it — in fact, the competition is to be the poster troop of 1990.
  • Expy: The parents of the other girls in the titular troop include a retired boxer, two out-of-work actors and an exiled dictator. You can probably make some guesses as to exactly whom each one represents.
  • A Father to His Men: Well, Phyllis is A Mother To Her Girls and becomes a Parental Substitute to some of them while inspiring all of them to feel good about themselves.
  • Faux Horrific: Phyllis's story about getting an awful perm.
  • Frothy Mugs of Water: Done deliberately and played for laughs in the scene where Phyllis is apparently "drunk" on Evian water.
  • Girl Scouts Are Evil: Not all of them; just the Red Feathers.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: "His manhood was swelling". Were Claire and her mother Vicki talking about the man's ego, or about something else?
  • Heel-Face Turn: Annie.
  • Hypocritical Humor: "The parents in this neighborhood are so self-involved... oh shit, I broke a nail!"
  • Idle Rich
  • Indecisive Parody: Roger Ebert's review paints it as such with regards to Beverly Hills sensibilities. It could be seen as an Affectionate Parody, though.
  • I Resemble That Remark:
    Fred: You'll be less neurotic with your parents happily divorced rather than unhappily married.
    Phyllis: Thank you, Phil Donahue.
    Fred: I saw it on Oprah!
  • Ironic Echo / Humiliation Conga: Velda threatens Annie over her having to go back working at K-Mart if she doesn't cooperate. Then Velda is forced to work there after she gets fired from the Wilderness Girls, including saying the very line she threatened Annie with.
  • It Came from Beverly Hills
  • Laser-Guided Karma: The drive to win at all costs which Velda instilled in her daughter and the Red Feathers comes back to bite her when they abandon her in the woods after getting injured because she was slowing them down.
  • Merit Badges For Everything: Phyllis does come up with many merit badges for her troop to earn, such as "gardening with glamor" and "jewelry appraisal," but they are actually stripped of them for being "illicit" and having "nothing to do with wilderness ways as [Velda] knows them or anyone else in their right mind knows them".
  • The Mole: Annie starts as one, but her sympathies shift to the side she's "spying" on when it becomes clear to her that Velda's dislike for Phyllis is rooted in spiteful, petty competitiveness.
  • Parental Abandonment: Cheeka in particular is a victim of this. Her parents are almost always off on trips, missing a badge ceremony, and even her birthday.
  • Parental Neglect: Averted on Phyllis and Fred's account regarding Hannah, whose only real problem is that she doesn't want her parents splitting up when she knows they still love each other. Phyllis somehow manages to be a mother figure to the girls in the Troop while still devoting enough attention to Hannah.
  • Plucky Girl: In spades.
  • Pretty in Mink: Phyllis wears a white mink coat to her troop's first outing. It does get dirtied by rain and mud.
  • Real Women Don't Wear Dresses: Played with. Velda loathes Phyllis and Troop Beverly Hills because she doesn't believe they can be actual Wilderness Girls because of how vain, spoiled, and overall stereotypically "girly" they are, which also makes them an insult to the organization in general. Of course, Phyllis proves her wrong when the Troop shows they can be both girly and "actual" Wilderness Girls.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Velda's superior is this trope through and through, in stark contrast to Velda herself.
  • Rich in Dollars, Poor in Sense
  • Road Sign Reversal: The Red Feathers pull this one at the jamboree. Due to the above mentioned skunk, this still wasn't enough to win the competition.
  • Serious Business: Fashion! Cookies! SHOPPING!
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Annie, even with Values Dissonance making it look silly today.
  • Shout-Out: "Patches... we don't need no stinking' patches!"
  • Shrinking Violet: Annie.
  • Smug Snake: Velda.
  • Sore Loser: Velda takes the Red Feathers' disqualification from the race (they crossed the finish line first without a troop leader), Troop Beverly Hills being the actual winners (even though they did stop to help her) and her own termination from the Wilderness Girls very, very badly (see also: Villainous Breakdown).
  • Spoiled Sweet: Phyllis and all her girls, saving perhaps Cheeka.
  • The Starscream: Velda to Mrs. Temple, who continually orders her to stop trying to get Troop Beverly Hills disbanded.
  • Start My Own: Velda's angry rant at the end.
  • The Stinger: Velda working at K-Mart at the end. See Ironic Echo.
    Velda: Attention K-Mart shoppers. Blue light special, aisle 13. *beeeep* Cookies.
  • Straw Feminist: Velda. Seems to despise every dang thing that could be remotely considered "feminine".
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Velda continues to mock Phyllis and the girls even when they have the decency to help her after injuring herself. Of course, this just adds fuel to Velda's continuing hatred towards Troop Beverly Hills and the reminder that her own daughter abandoned her to win.
  • Unintentional Period Piece: And how! Though they may have deliberately exaggerated. But it is still a showcase of late 80s fashions and trends.
  • The Untwist: In-Universe, the end of Phyllis's "ghost story."
    Phyllis: HE PERMED ME!
  • Vanity Is Feminine: Generally used in a "positive" sense, such as Annie's Heel-Face Turn being accompanied by a new, more flattering wardrobe. Phyllis and her girls are vain and sympathetic, while Velda is masculine and has her unattractiveness made fun of.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Velda's sanity is sorely tested during the big race. When she loses the race and her own team is disqualified from it, she ravingly makes it clear to everyone that she is a Sore Loser and throws insults at the councilwomen for recognizing Troop Beverly Hills. This gets her fired from the Wilderness Girls, which breaks her down even further (see Start My Own above).
  • Worst Aid: Phyllis grabs the first aid instructor when he uses her to demonstrate mouth-to-mouth. Textbook straight play of "romantic CPR".
    Phyllis: (On instructor's asking her to lie down) The last time I did this, I got more than a patch for it....

Future SpandexImageSource/Live-Action FilmsIdle Rich
Tetsuo: The Iron ManFilms of the 1980sTurner and Hooch

alternative title(s): Troop Beverly Hills
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