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Movie Review: Viola Davis Shows Eccentric Side in 'Troop Zero'

by Todd A. Smith

 

“Troop Zero” stars (L-R) Allison Janney and Viola Davis (Photo Credit: Curtis Bonds Baker/Courtesy of Amazon Studios).

 

Weirdoes Rule 

 


Artistry can produce some interesting things.


When many people think of Viola Davis they think of powerful and dramatic performances like in “Fences” and “How to Get Away with Murder.”


But every artist has a little weirdo in them.


How can people be so creative and not be a little odd?


No, Davis is not odd.


But in a way it is fun to see her make an odd movie choice in “Troop Zero,” which also stars comedy legend, Mike Epps.


But while Davis shows another side of herself in “Troop Zero,” Epps is basically always Day Day, his beloved character from “Next Friday” and “Friday After Next.”


Epps is still that player, delinquent type of character that he has mastered from “Sparkle” to “Jumping the Broom.”


Nevertheless, the star of “Troop Zero” is the little weird girl who starts the little birdie scout troop in the first place, Christmas Flint (McKenna Grace, “Gifted”).


When a person enters the entertainment business, eccentricities can become a moneymaker.


Just look at musicians like Andre 3000 of Outkast, Kanye West, Michael Jackson and Prince for proof that weirdoes sometimes rule the world.


However, when a weirdo is growing up, not fitting in is hell on Earth.


Thanks to her late mother, Christmas has a love for outer space and the great beyond.


But because of the anxiety of losing her mother at such an early age, Christmas has developed a habit of urinating on herself.


As a result, Christmas has become a pariah at her rural Georgia elementary school in 1977.


Nevertheless, she does have one weird friend.


The kids calls Christmas’ good friend Joseph a boy-girl because instead of loving football, he has a love for cosmetology, Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight and Freddie Mercury.


His skills with women’s hair is so good that Miss Rayleen (Davis) tells him that if he can survive the next nine years of his life, he’ll make a killing as a hair stylist.


Miss Rayleen is Christmas’ dad’s legal assistant.


She did not go to law school, but Miss Rayleen knows enough about law to be an actual attorney.


Although many lawyers bring in the big money, Christmas’ father Ramsey Flint (Jim Gaffigan) is in the hole because he does more to help people than to help himself with his law practice.


While Christmas gets bullied at school mainly by the mean girls of the school, Hell-No and Smash, she has a somewhat stable home life thanks to her father and Miss Rayleen.


But thanks to a new program implemented by NASA and President Jimmy Carter, Christmas might actually find her cool place in school after all.


NASA wants to record birdie scouts on a vinyl album to send messages to possible extraterrestrial life.


If there are living beings on other planets, NASA wants the youth of America to be able to communicate with them one day to let them know what life was really like on Earth in 1977.


Birdie scouts from all over the area will compete for first prize in the talent contest.


The first place scout team will record the album for possible alien ears.


The problem is Christmas has to become a birdie scout to compete for the top prize.


And don’t forget, Christmas is a social outcast and the girls of Troop Five, led by school principal Miss Massey (Allison Janney, “Bombshell”), are the popular girls and have no desire to socialize with the socially awkward, Christmas.


Furthermore, Miss Massey does not want Christmas in Troop Five either.


The solution to the problem is for Christmas to start her own troop.


But the old dilemma rears its head as Christmas tries to start her own birdie scout troop.


She has no female friends and a troop needs at least four scouts.


But somehow, Christmas convinces Hell-No Price (Milan Ray), Smash (Johanna Colon), the boy-girl Joseph (Charlie Shotwell) and the one-eyed evangelist, Anne-Claire (Bella Higginbotham) and they become Troop Zero.


Miss Massey gives the new birdie scout group the number zero because all of the other numbers had been claimed.


But as Christmas says, zero represents infinity, which is intriguing to a science nerd like Christmas.


The quandary that Troop Zero finds themselves in is that birdie scouts exist to turn young girls into women of substance.


But getting substance out of girl goons like Hell-No and Smash might present the most daunting task in the world.


However, another dilemma presents itself before Troop Zero can officially qualify for the NASA competition.


They need a troop mother.


Luckily for Christmas, her father nominates his employee Miss Rayleen for the coveted position.


But being a troop in name and becoming an actual competitive troop are two entirely different things especially when dealing with a gang of misfits.


Although Grace shines just as much as she did in her stellar performances in movies like “Gifted” and Davis shows her quirky side, “Troop Zero” does not equal much more than zero as far as great movies are concerned.


The movie is fun.


The movie is relatable.


The movie is different.


But the movie is not special, unfortunately.


Nevertheless, “Troop Zero” gives Davis an opportunity to show more of her personality and get out of the typecast of playing serious characters.


Morgan Freeman has done this recently.


Danny Glover has done this recently too.


Therefore, it make sense for an actress of equal caliber to prove to Hollywood and to fans that she cannot be placed in a box as a one-dimensional character or person.

 

“Troop Zero” is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.



REGAL RATINGS

FOUR CROWNS=EXCELLENT

THREE CROWNS=GOOD

TWO CROWNS=AVERAGE

ONE CROWN=POOR


This article was published on Friday 17 January, 2020.
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