Picks and Pans Review: Troop Beverly Hills

updated 04/10/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/10/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Shelley Long

This is the second movie in a row that Long has had to carry pretty much by herself. No Bette Midler or Tom Hanks here to share the chuckle chores as they did in Outrageous Fortune and The Money Pit respectively. This is Shelley's movie. And considering her disastrous solo debut last year in Hello Again, she acquits herself quite nicely, despite an uneven script. The throes of divorce from husband Craig T. (Poltergeist) Nelson, a car-muffler magnate, have left her groping for something—other than a Rodeo Drive shopping trip—that will give her a measure of self-respect, so she enlists as den mother of her daughter's Wilderness Girls troop. But Long's unorthodox wilderness ways—camping out at the Beverly Hills Hotel and awarding patches for jewelry appraisal, shopping expertise and sushi appreciation—land her in trouble with troop superior Betty (Hill Street Blues) Thomas.

Long and Thomas try to out-leader each other in the cookie-selling contest as well as in the survival outing. But Thomas acts as though she has watched too much Hogan's Heroes. Her overly broad, Colonel Klink—like performance slows the movie painfully. And too often the jokes fall flat. When Mary (Feds) Gross, who plays Thomas's lapdog, finally gets up the nerve to turn on Thomas, all she can manage is a trite "screw you." Saturday Night Live screenwriters Pamela Norris and Margaret Grieco Oberman must have really labored over that one. Director Jeff (Revenge of the Nerds) Kanew keeps things breezy and brings off some nice touches, including a cutting lampooning of celebrities. In the end, Troop, thanks largely to Long, remains inoffensive. You can take the kids, too, although a visit to a real scout meeting of some sort might make everyone happier. (PG)

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