TROOP ZERO gets a slight one time watch recommendation from me, considering this film should’ve been made and released in the 90s, and is literally, LITERALLY, nothing you haven’t seen before. It apparently is a mixture of Troop Beverly Hills (haven’t seen it), The Little Rascals Movie and Heavyweights, but take out all the crude humor and add about ten extra doses of charming. It is no wonder that it was just released last weekend on Amazon Prime, because if it was released in the theaters it definitely wouldn’t have made any money whatsoever. The only reason why this film gets a slight pass from me is because of the acting, and makes me very excited for Mckenna Grace’s role in the upcoming Ghosbusters: Afterlife. And some good ol’ scene chewery from veteran actors Viola Davis, Jim Gaffigan, and Allison Janney. This movie just is another proof that the streaming revolution is really at hand. These platforms getting, producing and releasing movies that wouldn’t have their time of day in the theater anymore, instead hoping for a mass consumption of people wanting to stay at home, safe, to watch something half way decent, without having to go out and deal with the rest of the human race. Because the rest of the human race sucks as watching movies in a public place. I’m sorry, but most of you ruin it nowadays….fuck you!
With that little rant over, I’m just going to borrow Wikipedia’s log line for the film as I would make everything confusing trying to put it into my own words: “In rural Georgia in 1977, a group of elementary-school misfits led by spunky outcast Christmas Flint join forces to infiltrate the high-and-mighty Birdie Scouts youth group in order to win a talent show. The winning Birdies will earn the right to have their voices included on the Voyager Golden Record, which Christmas believes will be heard by her deceased mother – if they can just win the show.” As you can see by that description, the character of Christmas Flint must be quirky and weird, yet charming and able to win over the hearts of friends and family, and Mckenna Grace’s performance, the best in the film, pulls that off in spades. Jim Gaffigan plays her quirky dad, and even though I wished he was more in the film (he’s gone in a flash at the beginning but gets more stuff to do toward the end), he is pretty great in the scenes he is in. And Viola Davis and Alison Janney, we already know they are master class in acting, both having won Oscars in the past several years, and they are in the movie quite a bit, Davis playing a reluctant yet loving mother figure that ends up being their troop leader, and Janney playing the obligatory rival troop leader that leads the best and most famous troop and will do anything to stop the girls from winning the talent show. Their acting elevates the one dimensional written roles into a little bit of something more.
The one aspect that makes this film watchable and charming are the parts where the girls are trying to get their badges, and the ending talent show and the films entire message really hits its mark. The problem is that it is everything you’ve seen before. It adds nothing new to the quirky independent film dramedy, but then again, maybe it was never meant to? It is a film for parents to maybe put on for their young kids while they do some chores in the background. Forgettably charming, nothing more, nothing less. I’m surprised that Disney+ plus didn’t snatch this up, as it seems like it was tailor made for the platform, but then again maybe they were put off by the couple of curse words such as ass and damn? But that wouldn’t make sense since there are a shit ton of old 20th Century Fox projects on their now that do and say much worse. But it doesn’t surprise me that this premiered at Sundance last year and went straight to platform. Many other camp/scout films have done a better job with what this films does, and those are now considered classics. You can’t just be a copy cat, you gotta do something special. And while this isn’t special, it’s just fine, and could’ve been much worse. It will eventually be lost in time…like tears…in rain. By the way, now that I think about it, is it too late to start a petition to get Judd Apatow to produce, write, and direct a sequel to Heavyweights? Or have the past couple of woke, triggered, offended, butthurt years ruined that possibility? Let me know.