Updated: May 26, 2020
Film: Troop Zero
Cast: Mckenna Grace, Viola Grace, Allison Janney, Charlie Shotwell
Directed by: Bert, Bertie
Distributed by: Amazon Studios
Review: Jessie Carlson
Rating: 3X’s out of 5X’s
Welcome to Wiggly, Georgia, circa 1977. A land were a girl named Christmas has her head in the stars, a failed law student finds herself with five little boos, and The Birdies rule over Bowie.
Troop Zero is a film we’ve all grown to know where a group of atypicals go head-to-head against the typicals but this time with more bell bottoms and aliens. Living with her widowed and repeatedly losing attorney father, “Boss-Man,” little Christmas Flint finds herself obsessed with looking up at the stars in search of something bigger than herself. When NASA announces a competition were the winners of the Birdie Scout talent Jamboree can make a recording on the Golden Record to be launched into space, Christmas decides to join the Birdie’s local and terribly pompous troop. With having the reputation as the freak ‘Wetsy Betsy’ she’s immediately dismissed as not being a suitable candidate for a Birdie Scout. Refusing to take a hint, Christmas rounds up all the misfits in the town to form the blatantly ironic Troop Zero, comprising of: a one-eyed Jesus fanatic (Marie-Anne), the Bowie lovin’ boy from next door (Joseph) and a pair of bullies named Hell-No and Smash. Boss-Man’s sharp and plucky employee, Rayleen, is impossibly tasked with being their troop mother and grooming her boos for their big break. And with that, begins the space race between the stereotypes; the sweet (but really not so sweet) southern belles and the trashy hicks who live down by the river.
I’ve already said it but I’ll say it again, this is a film just like all the other sappy coming of age misfit stories. A bunch of losers reluctantly come together, but over the course of the several tumultuous trials of the second act they band together and jointly pee on stage...ok well that was a new and completely unnecessary twist. The point is, they don’t end with what they wanted, but they end up with what they needed. And if that doesn’t warm your heart like mama's homemade buttered biscuits I don’t know what will. Believe it or not, the hero of Troop Zero wasn’t Mckenna Grace, it was young Charlie Shotwell. While Grace truly embodies her truly weird protagonist. Shotwell brings a breath of fresh air to this film with his honest portrayal of a young boy who knows who he is and doesn’t try to be anything but. This act of bravery is subtly layered in the film along with Rayleen’s refusal to back down despite her standing as a black woman in the South and Christmas standing up for herself. Their endearing genuineness creates this bright light which you can’t help but smile at.
That being said, there were some zeros embedded within the 1h 37min. Perhaps the most disappointing was the very limited interaction with Viola Davis (Rayleen) and Allison Janney (Miss Massey). Troop Zero uncovered this show-stopping power duo but their tension and witty repartee left my taste buds wanting more. This film while shot in the beautiful palette of a summer haze, it was just that, a haze. It was slow, anticlimactic and lacked in the nostalgia and
sentimental yearning for youth you would expect. It was the summer you wouldn’t really mind if you forgot. And finally, the climax completely missed the mark. The attempt was in the right place but the overexaggerated public urination took it from sweet and sympathetic to just plain disgusting.
A word to the wise, if quirky indie films, a director duo name Bert & Bertie, and the fact that a white man decided to name his own daughter Christmas and then had her call him ‘Boss-Man” doesn’t fancy your liking, skip to the next film on your cue. However, is you need something that takes fairly minimal attention as you wait for your mom to bring home KFC and need a cute little pick me up, Troop Zero i s the perfect slice of peach pie.