Phyllis Nefler (Shelley Long) is a soon-to-be-divorced Beverly Hills housewife and socialite whose husband, Fred (Craig T. Nelson) has already moved on with his younger, prettier girlfriend to a huge new house, leaving Phyllis to fill the void in her heart with shopping. Though his new squeeze is as vapid as can be, Fred claims that he wants the divorce because Phyllis is no longer the kind, creative person he married, but a shopaholic who can’t commit to anything.
In an attempt to prove him wrong, Phyllis decides on a whim to become the new den mother for her daughter Hannah’s (Jenny Lewis) girl scouts troop, the Wilderness Girls. Assuming that this will be a great way to spend quality time with her daughter as well as an easy way to appear more responsible to her ex, Phyllis bites off more than she can chew and embarks on the adventure of a lifetime! Though she was right about the quality time, as Phyllis dives into her responsibilities as a den mother, navigating new skills, managing a troop of pre-teen girls, and really getting to know her daughter’s friends, Phyllis realizes that being a role model, friend, and protector for a group of young women is anything but easy.
Troop Beverly Hills is iconic, for several reasons. In the 80s, it was common for even films which included children to completely de-center them and casually dismiss their thoughts, opinions, and experiences. Troop Beverly Hills gives us a glimpse into the lives of every single troop member, and delves into the lives of those who are are being neglected by their wealthy parents. The film also highlighted what the girl scouts are all about: community, friendship, resourcefulness, and networking. Each member of the Wilderness Girls had each other’s back, and Phyllis soon learns that although being a mother to a group is a lot harder than being mother to just one, it’s also much more rewarding.
I give this one a 4.5