Entertainment is looking up.
They don’t make ‘em like they used to. I mean it. I can’t open Netflix on my first-edition Roku TV without seeing something about evil vampire orgy teens or a miniseries about lots of murder. The devolvement of our species is never more evident then when we examine what we watch while we eat our one-pot pasta after work. I don’t want my television selections to put me on a watch list, I just want to see some uncool kids that were alive before the internet beat the odds and have a bitchin summer. I don’t ask for much.
I am a Now & Then girl. A Bring It On girl. And yes, a Sandlot girl, though would it have killed them to have one female on the team? We didn’t need Bertram. There, I said it. And lately, I am starved for entertainment with innocence. Every time I see kids in modern-day settings they have the vocabulary of a tenured professor and could hack their way into the Pentagon. If you told them to go play and stuck them in a backyard they’d have no idea what to do with it. Remember when kids were morons? That was fun. There is a present-day absence of entertainment content that features kids on bikes without helmets and we need to get back there, fast. And yes I adore Stranger Things but there’s monsters in there!
Troop Zero is my solace. It is my church. It is a movie you can watch on Amazon Video right now and it’s got Viola Davis and Allison Janney in it so what are you still doing reading me? It’s a film set in 1977 where a prissy buncha perfectbraids try to make a broken shoelace eyepatch oddball squad who like science you guys feel like they’re not worth much. As you will soon learn, they are worth all the stars in the sky.
Our teeny main character is a girl named Christmas who makes a new friend named Hell-No who’s already besties with a girl named Smash. PLEASE WATCH THIS. A dream team of offbeat but overwhelmingly loveable girls (and one boy!) form a “Birdie” troop in a part of Georgia where the only troop number remaining is apparently Zero. Yes, Allison Janney’s character is kind of a c*nt.
The main story arc takes Troop Zero from nonexistent to scotch-taping itself together as a badge-earning, jamboree-competing, David Bowie lip-synching pack of absolute gods. They do this under the guidance of our supreme leader Viola Davis who I’d follow into Hell if she asked. I don’t mean to be dramatic but our future depends on this film. We need to see a kid climb a tree. We need to see a kid with a dirty t-shirt look like better company than a chick in an ironed uniform. We need a proper food fight. It’s time.
It’s important to me to see kid movies set in the past where girls focus on something other than boys and boys focus on something other than sports. It happens, but I really think Troop Zero is filling a void. Because when we do see kids focus on other things, it’s the boys that get the cool stuff like science (lookin at you, October Sky), not the girls. Girls like the solar system too dammit and for more than just astrology! The entertainment industry has long kept the fingernails of little girls far cleaner than they really are and it’s time everyone learned the truth. I used to collect acorns and persimmons in my grandmother’s yard and pretend I was making potions. That’s the childhood I want to spend my annual Prime membership on, thank you.
Do you even remember easy? When’s the last time you watched a movie or television you didn’t have to come down from? You won’t need Xanax or a bottle of wine to finish this without vomiting. You won’t have to Google the ending to make sure you can handle it without an extra session of therapy this week. You can just relax and enjoy and maybe have some Fritos, I dunno, live your life.
Yes, there are some odd bits. I have no idea what the point of Mike Epps’ character was and if you’re going to put someone as funny as Mike Epps in a movie I feel like there should be far more purpose to it. I still don’t understand the father/daughter dynamic between Christmas and Jim Gaffigan’s character. It was confusing. Like if you asked someone what time it was and they handed you a ball of yarn. Also, why were we limited to the badges left in an empty pickle jar? Isn’t there like…a list of all possible badges? Can they not make more of the badges? What’s happening.
But screw the odd bits. Because overall, I am so grateful this film was made. I am grateful for the time frame in which it was set, and for the women who wrote, directed, and starred in it. I am grateful there is something good, in every sense of the word good, to watch at the end of my workday. I am grateful there is something out there that reminds me of when I didn’t have a workday yet.
That’s all I’m going to tell you about Troop Zero because I want you to get off the internet and go watch it. I want you to get off the internet and do a lot of things. I want you to pretend that you’re still a kid and still ride a bike that isn’t owned by SoulCycle and still think Cheez-Its count as a meal. I want you to remember what it was like to make a new friend when you weren’t trying to. I want you to climb inside Troop Zero and dig for snails and share hot chocolate from a thermos and let its innocence, nostalgia, and sweetness of youth send your imagination, and every other part of you, straight to the moon.