A character named Christmas, NASA, Viola Davis and Allison Janney is all you need to know about what makes Troop Zero work.
Directed by Bert & Bertie (aka Katie Ellwood and Amber Templemore-Finlayson), from a screenplay by Beasts of the Southern Wild co-writer Lucy Alibar (inspired by Alibar’s 2010 play Christmas and Jubilee Behold The Meteor Shower) Troop Zero is set in rural 1977 Georgia. Christmas Flint, a spunky, pigtail wearing dreamer wants nothing more than experiencing a life in outer space. So, when a competition arises offering her a chance to be recorded on NASA’s Golden Record being set into outer space, she recruits an eclectic group to start a troop of Birdie Scouts. The result? A lot of laughs, heartwarming moments and friendships that ultimately last a lifetime.
Rayleen (Viola Davis), a secretary for Christmas’ luckless defense-lawyer Dad (Jim Gaffigan), is recruited as the troop mother who self proclaims “I don’t get on good with little girls,” while expecting the group not to do very well. Not to mention that Rayleen and the other troop leader Miss Massey (Allison Janney) have a contentious history and who coats every snarky comment behind saying “I’m playin’, I’m playin'” provides for some the film’s most entertaining moments. Ultimately, Rayleen discovers that although these kids are literally the ‘bad news bears’ of scout troops, they have heart, determination and most of all they have each other.
I rather loved this dynamic of a troop leader who unconventionally assists her team in gaining their badges and the annoying type of leader who follows every rule right down to the last detail. It reminded me of my days as a Girl Scout and brought me great joy to say the least.
Troop Zero is a great inspiring film for kids who feel bullied, different and just can’t seem to find their way in the world. This film is delightful and one with reminds us what humanity looks like when kindness prevails over hatred. A lesson our world and political arenas could stand to learn from on a daily basis. Troop Zero originally screened at Sundance in 2019 and can now be seen streaming on Amazon Prime.