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Troop Beverly Hills (Blu-ray Review)

Troop-Beverly-HillsBased on a story by Ava Ostern Fries, TROOP BEVERLY HILLS was directed by Jeff Kanew from a screenplay by Pamela Norris and Margaret Oberman.  It was executive produced by Charles Fries, with Ava Ostern Fries serving as producer.  Director Jeff Kanew is most known for one of the 80s best comedies, Revenge Of The Nerds.  A film that I reviewed the Blu-ray for last year.  While reviled by critics and not even crossing 10 million dollars at the box office, somewhere along the line, Troop Beverly Hills  would up finding itself a fan base and becoming a classic of its own right.  I’d say its primarily due to people checking it out on VHS (Heck, I rented it).  Also, this was a female-driven film with the target audiences being females and young ones at that.  So, of course critics were going to hate it.  It was also another movie in which Shelley Long, try as she might, couldn’t break big from being a big TV star to that of one on the big screen.

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Film 

Flamboyantly wealthy Phyllis Nefler has everything money can buy – a Beverly Hills mansion, a classic Rolls, furs, jewelry and designer gowns. The one thing she doesn’t have is her husband Freddy, who’s leaving her for good. Maybe. Determined to prove she’s still the creative, energetic woman Freddy once loved, Phyllis throws luxury to the wind and becomes the leader of her daughter’s Wilderness Girls troop. But how much can this chic cookie take before she crumbles?

Well, 26 years later, I’m pretty much the same amount of indifferent on Troop Beverly Hills as I was back when I rented the movie eons ago.  There is some funny stuff, and a terrific lead performance, but its just not for me.  And that’s okay.  It wasn’t made for me.  Its not for me to “get”.  This is a nice rendition of female driven comedic entertainment aimed at and intended for young girls.  And that’s still something we lack having nowadays.  This movie has become such a staple for the women who grew up in this era.  I’m not here to knock or take that away from them.  I’ll just have more score listed and that’s that.

Shelley Long, like me, is a native of Fort Wayne, IN.  She was a big deal back in the day, starring on television’s biggest show, Cheers.  She left the show after its 5th season in 1987 to give it a go in the movies.  Television wasn’t of the prestige it is now back then, so your goal was to work your way out of it if you were on TV.  Shelley felt it was her time and off she went.  And she never really took off.  Her biggest success was playing Carol Brady in The Brady Bunch parody movies which didn’t come until 8 years after she left Cheers.  And even after that, nothing really took off.  Troop Beverly Hills is probably one of her best efforts, at least from a performer standpoint.  She has great comedic chops and really goes all in with her character here.  She’s having a blast and its sort of infectious.  Long owns every frame of this film.

The film also gave us a look at many young female actresses of note.  Some would be just of that time and you’ll recognize them if you’re of that generation (Like the girl from Good Morning, Miss Bliss that didn’t make the jump to Saved By The Bell).  The more recognizable ones are Carla Gugino and Tori Spelling.  But, if you’re cool like me, you’ll notice that Long’s daughter is played by the girl who hooked up with Fred Savage for 8-bit adventures in the ultimate Nintendo adventure, The Wizard.

Troop Beverly Hills, for me, was an average little comedy.  But, to others its a whole lot more.  Its fun to see the collection of young actress as the girl scouts in this movie.  Craig T Nelson, whom I hadn’t mentioned at all, is a nice compliment to this film (He’s always sort of been underused, though he did have a TV show that ran forever).  Shelley Long probably elevates this movie to be better than it should be, and really chews up every piece of scenery available.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Clarity/Detail: This one isn’t messing around.  Troop Beverly Hills gets remastered in 4K treatment.  It looks absolutely great.  The image is nice, sharp and very clean.  Background stuff, like surfaces and objects all reign in some great detail.  I mean, just look at the texture of their hats if you wanna see how great it is.

Depth:  Movements are smooth and everything looks free in its environment.  Even backgrounds that have an intended blurriness to them show some impressive detail.

Black Levels:  Blacks are a bit consuming in really dark scenes with some light crushing.  Its very minimal, but detail does get lost in some of the darkness.

Color Reproduction:  Bold and solid.  Colors feel well rounded.  Reds and greens show up well and Long’s hair looks outstanding.  While things do look nice and striking, nothing ever is too vibrant or excessive, bleeding out.

Flesh Tones:  Natural skin tones that are consistent.  Detail is terrific.  You can make out any wrinkle, stubble, dimple or blemish on the characters’ faces.

Noise/Artifacts: A very nice light layer of grain.

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, French Mono (2.0)

Subtitles: English, English SDH

Dynamics:  This is a nice 5.1 track, but not one that really rocks the house.  It has merits all abound and does its job very nicely.  The audio just isn’t really a pulse pounding one.  It could have used some extra punch to it, but what we get here is more than fine.

Low Frequency Extension:  Not much here aside from giving the music a little deeper sound and extra thump.

Surround Sound Presentation:  Rear speakers provide some good ambiance that differentiates from what is coming from the front speakers.  There are also some nice echoing effects as well as bird chirps and the like.  The front speakers keep nice pace and track of the action.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialogue is center-focused.  Clean, crisp and clear.

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Extras 

Troop Beverly Hills comes with an UltraViolet Digital Copy of the film.

Shelley Long Remembers Troop Beverly Hills (HD, 14:25) – The actress recalls finding the script in a pile of ones to go through.  She discusses what she loved about the story, how it was something actually about a woman and girls.  Long even talks about sequences that were removed from the film.

The “Real” Phyllis Neffler: Ava Ostern Fries (HD, 9:31) – The producer talks about how she was going through a divorce during the time this movie was being filmed and how she was a like a mother to the cast.  She also reveals that its been hard for her to talk about the film in the last 5 years because her daughter passed away.

Deleted Scenes (HD, 7:22) – “Gone Shopping”, “Introductions”, “Wilderness Dogs”, “Velda’s Speech”, “I Loosened It”, “Marshmallows, Wieners and Champagne”, “Beverage Break”, “Velda’s Neck Grab”, “Father and Daughter Bonding”, “Freddy Helps Phyllis Decide”

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 1:49) 

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Summary 

Troop Beverly Hills is an average comedy for me, but I’m not the target audience and it definitely isn’t a piece of nostalgia or something I grew up with.  Its nowhere near as bad as its Rotten Tomatoes score (8%) will tell you.  This Blu-ray however, brings excellence in the way of its presentation.  The video is top notch and the audio work just fine.  There are all new extras for this release and I think fans of the film are going to be very happy with what is provided.  A definite recommend on the purchase front.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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