It’s girl scout cookie season, so I felt like this would be the perfect time to pay a visit to a movie that is near and dear to my heart.
For those of you that have managed to never see this movie (omg, you can rent it on iTunes for $2.99. Go, I’ll wait.) You’re not really going to stop reading this and watch the movie? Fine, your loss.
The Basics– Shelley Long (Diane from Cheers) is going through a divorce with Craig T. Nelson (Coach from Coach) and she’s pretty much lost her place in life because of it. By the way, she has insanely red hair in this movie, like so red it must have been the inspiration for Valerie Cherish’s hair. But I think that’s supposed to make her kind-of resemble her daughter (introducing Jenny Lewis). In order to be more present in her daughter’s life, she becomes the troop leader for the Beverly Hills branch of “The Wilderness Girls.” It’s a fish out of water story but it’s also a coming-of-age story–not the kind of “coming of age” you do when you’re a kid but the kind that happens when you’re an adult and you realize that you need to re-learn how to be an adult. In short, it’s awesome. Why is this not an Oscar winning film??
I mentioned the divorce above, but it’s so much worse than that. Basically Craig T. Nelson is no longer in love with Shelley Long because she didn’t turn out to meet his expectations of who he expected her to be when they got married like over a decade ago. So he’s a jerk. But she’s also mad at him because she supported him all through law school and he ended up being a muffler salesman.
Poor Jenny Lewis is the most mature person in her family. Her mother wakes her up in the middle of the night to ask her about the woman entering the guest house (where her father is staying during the divorce). Yuck. But Jenny is all cool about it and tells her mom to stop spying on her dad and the realtor (who it turns out he is dating but we don’t know that just yet…)
But you have to hand it to Shelley Long, she’s really dedicated to making this Wilderness Girl thing work for her kid–even if that means camping out beneath the Hollywood sign. Or more like “glamping out.” This movie may actually have invented glamping. Right after they finish their fondue and are about to start making espresso over the campfire, it starts to pour buckets of rain all over their campsite. What’s a Wilderness Girl to do?
Check in to the Beverly Hills Hotel and tell the best campfire story ever:
But it’s not all easy for Shelley. I mean sure, she’s got to learn how to help those kids earn some badges but that would be a lot easier without the regional director trying to ruin everything for her. She’s a crabby ex-army nurse who doesn’t like that the Beverly Hills troop isn’t earning dumb traditional badges.
But earn badges for tying knots and first aid when you could earn your badges for:
-Dancing the Freddy
-International Affairs (Laundering Money & Crushing Revolutions)
-Gardening with Glamor
But then it all comes down to the final Jamboree. And that’s the real woods, people. She almost bails but the girls tell her that they need her and they have to follow through on this. So it’s quite literally a game of survival for them now since all they’ve haven’t really earned any of the badges that prepare you for dealing with nature. And on top of all that, they’ve got these really annoying Culver City Red Feathers to deal with.
But it turns out that with a little ingenuity and extra-motivation from having to out-run a skunk, even a sad soon-to-be divorcee from Beverly Hills can learn how to navigate the woods.
Very Special Lesson: This is an inspirational film. And not the kind that requires you to have a special skill (see: any movie about athletes, musicians, prodigies of any kind) or tons of money in which to start a foundation (The First Wives Club). But I watch this movie and think, “Hey, I too could one day be a troop leader and inspire tons of young girls without having to spend too much time experiencing nature.” Thank you, Shelley Long. You’ve inspired me more than you’ll ever know.
Stay tuned next weekend as I trudge through every episode of Fuller House. Wish me luck! I hope I don’t OD on very special lessons!