Troop Beverly Hills is a 1989 adventure comedy film that was produced by Weintraub Entertainment Group and directed by Jeff Kanew.
Phyllis Nefler (Shelley Long) is a Beverly Hills wife recently separated from her husband, Freddy (Craig T. Nelson), a wealthy owner of an auto shop chain.
Freddy feels Phyllis has become a self-absorbed "shopaholic" who never follows through on her commitments, and that she has drifted from the caring, imaginative personality that made him marry her.
To prove him wrong, Phyllis decides to become the new den mother of their daughter, Hannah (Jenny Lewis)'s unruly, leaderless local girl scout troop, the Wilderness Girls.
While Phyllis is boutique-hopping along Rodeo Drive, the council is overlooking her application, then approving it as they believe Phyllis has the makings of an excellent den leader.
Although she severely lacks the skills found in most troop leaders, Phyllis resolves to teach the girls how to survive in "the wilds of Beverly Hills," even customizing new merit badges for her troop. One campout results in the troop getting caught in the rain which makes Phyllis and the girls flee to the Beverly Hills Hotel.
Despite her unorthodox ways, Phyllis demonstrates an unwavering commitment to the girls' well-being and acts as a surrogate mother/friend to the girls, who are often neglected by their own wealthy and distracted parents.
However, during an award ceremony on a yacht , Fred's girlfriend gets knocked overboard and asks for a life saver and Phyllis responds which flavor. Fred remarks he was hoping to see Hannah learn a few outdoors and civil defense skills (such as first aid) and he is unsure about that under Phyllis' mentorship.
Phyllis' unorthodox methods also run afoul of another scout leader, Velda Plendor (Betty Thomas), a mean-spirited, retired army nurse who runs her troop, the Culver City (also known as the "Red Feathers") like a military unit. Velda's daughter, Cleo (Dinah Lacey) is a member of the Red Feathers.
Because Velda has considerable pull at the regional council level, she declares Phyllis' customized merit badges ineligible and sends her assistant troop leader, Annie Herman (Mary Gross) to infiltrate Troop Beverly Hills.
Much to Velda's dismay, Troop Beverly Hills can gain recognition by passing a series of tests at an upcoming Jamboree. However, in order to qualify for the Jamboree, and to show up Velda, the troop needs to sell cookies, and a lot of them.
To prevent this from happening, Velda sabotages Troop Beverly Hills by selling cookies in their own neighborhood. Seeing this, as well as realizing Phyllis' true personality, Annie becomes Phyllis' assistant for real, offering her abilities to get the girls recognized merit badges.
The parents of the girls (appreciative of Phyllis and Annie's leadership) offer to buy the cookies themselves in order to go to the jamboree, but Phyllis suggests another idea both to beat Velda at her own game and teach the girls salesmanship: a series of star-studded cookie sales in an untapped district. This proves fruitful as the girls sell over 4,000 boxes of cookies, way more than enough to qualify for the Jamboree.
Then, Phyllis is then hit with a one-two punch: even though Freddy has broken up with his new girlfriend, he wants to proceed with the divorce, including joint custody of Hannah.
After Velda tries to talk Phyllis out of attending the Jamboree, she sinks into a deep depression & finally decides to disband the troop, but Hannah and the other girls talk her out of it.
During the Jamboree, the Red Feathers try to get ahead of Troop Beverly Hills by misdirecting them into a snake-infested swamp which causes the troop to lose vital radio contact with Annie, but a skunk scares Phyllis and the girls into running through a shortcut, making them first in the qualifying event.
In the final run, Velda takes charge of the Red Feathers herself and cuts down a rope bridge, but this also fails. However, when Velda cheats a final time by going into a restricted area used only for hunting, she breaks her ankle on a bear trap.
The Red Feathers (especially Cleo) leave her behind for the sake of winning. Troop Beverly Hills finds her, barefoot and bitter and reluctantly carries her to the finish, but only after Phyllis reminds the girls that they have to be considerate to those in need, even if they are adversaries.
The Red Feathers cross the finish line first but are disqualified because council law stipulates the leader must be with the troop. Although Cleo runs off with the trophy, Troop Beverly Hills is declared the winners of the Jamboree and are validated as true Wilderness Girls.
Francis Temple, the regional leader, fires Velda from the Wilderness Girls Organization for cheating on the trail and for putting the Troop Beverly Hills girls in potential danger. In turn, Velda hurls insults at the councilwomen for recognizing Troop Beverly Hills.
The girls' families show up moments later and are very proud of them. Freddy, impressed by Phyllis' complete turnaround, decides to call off the divorce and they reconcile.
The end of the film shows Troop Beverly Hills as the new poster troop while Velda is shown working at K-Mart (a final fate that she had threatened Annie with), announcing a "Blue Light Special" on cookies.
- Shelley Long as Phyllis Nefler, a Beverly Hills socialite and new leader of Wilderness Girls Troop Beverly Hills.
- Craig T. Nelson as Freddy Nefler, Phyllis' entrepreneur husband and Hannah's father.
- Betty Thomas as Velda Plendor, the ruthless leader of a rival troop who despises Phyllis and her troop's Beverly Hills-attitude.
- Mary Gross as Annie Herman, Velda's assistant and spy, and later Phyllis's assistant.
- Jenny Lewis as Hannah Nefler, Phyllis and Fred's daughter who just wants her mother to lead like a normal troop leader. She's also a skilled gymnast.
- Emily Schulman as Tiffany Honigman, the daughter of a prominent Beverly Hills plastic surgeon.
- Carla Gugino as Chica Barnfell, a stern girl who's generally left alone by her jet-setting parents.
- Aquilina Soriano as Lily Marcigan, the daughter of Dictator Bong Bong and Karina (based on Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos respectively) who rule an unspecified Southeast Asian country.
- Kellie Martin as Emily Coleman, the daughter of an unemployed actor.
- Tasha Scott as Jasmine Shakar, the outspoken daughter of a well-known boxer.
- Heather Hopper as Tessa DiBlasio, the daughter of two well-known movie directors.
- Ami Foster as Claire Sprantz, a child actress/daughter of a romance novelist and a successful lawyer.
- Audra Lindley as Frances Temple, the head leader of Los Angeles County Wilderness Girls who is often undermined by Velda.
- Stephanie Beacham as Vicki Sprantz, Claire's mother, romance novelist, and Phyllis' friend.
- Shelley Morrison as Rosa, Phyllis' maid who helps out with the troop.
- Dinah Lacey as Cleo Plendor, Velda's daughter. The two don't have much of a mother/daughter-relationship, pretty much just a troop leader/scout relationship.
- Tori Spelling as Jamie, Cleo's friend who helps sabotage Troop Beverly Hills.
- Willie Garson as Bruce.
- Mary Pat Gleason as Kindly Troop Leader
- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as Himself
- Frankie Avalon as Himself
- Dr. Joyce Brothers as Herself
- Annette Funicello as Herself
- Robin Leach as Himself
- Cheech Marin as Himself
- Ted McGinley as Himself
- Pia Zadora as Herself
During its opening weekend, "Troop Beverly Hills" grossed $2,283,443.
Based on 13 reviews, Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a rating of "8%."
Janet Maslin (from the New York Times) reviewed the movie, stating:
"Troop Beverly Hills is a one-idea movie, and the idea isn't new. But it isn't threadbare either, thanks to the indefatigable pluck of Shelley Long, who plays a spiritual sister to Private Benjamin. Once again a spoiled, princessy character is forced to rough it, in this case as the troop leader commanding a group of equally spoiled little scouts. Once again the sad thing is that a person like this, after an initial spell of wonderfully outrageous behavior, is expected to grow up and change her ways."
Roger Ebert gave the movie two stars, stating:
"The underlying problem with "Troop Beverly Hills" is that the movie does not think Beverly Hills is funny. It sees nothing wrong with devout materialism. It has no sense of the ridiculous. A movie like Mazursky's "Down and Out in Beverly Hills" has more pointed satire and hard-edged social observation in its opening 60 seconds than "Troop Beverly Hills" ever aspires to. If you want to see a movie in which a spoiled rich woman becomes noble through her experiences as a scoutmaster, here's your chance."