Troop Zero follows the tale of a young girl named Christmas. Christmas lives with her father in the South during the 1970s, when the Space Race was still somewhat prevalent in American culture. When Christmas learns there is a chance for her to make a recording that could get launched into space, she quickly forms of team of young girls and a boy to ensure that her dream can come true.
And if that doesn’t sound like some cheesy, good feeling fun, then you clearly have no soul left in that husk you call a body.
Troop Zero is a delightfully quirky and “feel good” family movie that will awe-inspiring for a lot of young people growing up. It deals with a lot of complex themes such as growing up “weird”, the loss of a family member, fitting in, discovering yourself, and the dark future that could await some if nothing could change. It’s not heavy-handed and it doesn’t knock you over the head with its ideas, but I think the target audience will understand the messages better than most.
So what’s good about this movie? First off, the acting. Everyone here brings a great performance, from the child actors like McKenna Grace (Captain Marvel), to adult actors like Viola Davis and Allison Janney. I couldn’t point out anybody that was necessarily bad and, even better, when all the kids got together in their troop following the twenty minute mark, they had some of the best chemistry I’ve ever seen on-screen. They act like children, rather than adults trying to write for children.
It’s great, but that doesn’t mean Troop Zero perfect. A lot of the characters, with the exception of the Christmas, are very one-dimensional. There’s only a few moments where we see more to these characters than previously thought., but it’s mainly regulated to Davis and Janney’s characters. Both have good moments and really bring in some adult moodiness that kids will still understand, but I wish more was done with the rest of the troop. That’s not to say the characters aren’t compelling or funny, but it’s a bit lacking on reflection. Like I said, this movie’s demographic is primarily for kids and it knows it, so I can forgive them there.
I found myself relating to so much these characters, at times remembering what it was like to be their age and the fun of dreaming for an amazing future. It’s sentimental when reflecting on it as it does have the power to make one think back. Not in a Star Wars way where nostalgia is all people want, but more a reflection — a motion for you to remember what it was like to be them all those years ago.
But in terms of the actual story, it is mostly a hit. There are a few moments throughout where I found myself muttering over the convenience of certain events and, even if I was twelve, the suspension of disbelief would have to be stretched across a VERY thin line. It feels lazy at times and really cheapens the moments where characters might learn a lesson about the real world. And I know I keep saying this about a movie made for kids, but it takes place in the 70s. Early 70s.
You have a black female lead and young gay character in the South. They do address it a bit, and while I’m glad they didn’t devolve into that territory, I do wish the writers touched upon that discriminatory aspect just a bit more. If you’re wondering whether these characterizations are necessary to the story? No, it’s not. Not really.
But where Troop Zero really shines is its final act, where we see the cultivation of all the weird quirks that it has to offer mixed in with comedic and dramatic beats for a finale that is as heart breaking as it is heartwarming. And let me tell you this going in, it’s an incredible finale. I found myself tearing up from how hard I was laughing. It truly is something unique and that I’ve never seen done before in a film.
Verdict: 4 out of 5 stars.
Like I said before, there are times in Troop Zero where you need to stretch your suspension of disbelief to buy some moments. And the one dimension characters can sometimes hurt your movie going experience. But the strong writing, direction, and acting more than make up for it while providing powerful messages for both girls and boys alike. And at the end of the day, I do think we could all learn just a little bit from a movie like this, regardless of who we are or where we come from.