Double feature: The charm of some movies comes from the extrinsic circumstance of their having been a part of your childhood. For me, for better or worse, this is the case with “Troop Beverly Hills.” Youthful attachment aside, the film makes for a diverting – and, if you’re in the right frame of mind, thought-provoking – pairing with “Beverly Hills Cop,” for reasons far beyond the overlap in their titles.
Together, the two films represent a time in our socioeconomic history when extreme disparity of wealth felt isolated in one zip code, and seemed to amuse/bemuse more than outrage or even fascinate.
From an insider’s and an outsider’s perspective, respectively, both “Troop Beverly Hills” and “Beverly Hills Cop” mock the excesses of California’s fabulously wealthy, and both do so in a gentle rather than ferocious fashion. The toothlessness of their satire is likely a function of their focus on those who benefit from inequality, rather than on the inequality itself.
To be sure, these excesses and coddlings are given their air-time, but the appetites underlying them are presented in both films as ridiculous rather than legitimate or worthy of emulation. Is this because luxury was not an expectation or demand of everyone at the time, possibly not even their dream? Or was the envy of the general populace so deep that they had to bury it under layers of ridicule?
Students of class tension – here are two primary documents for you to study.
For a marathon: Would the pampered girls in “Troop Beverly Hills” grow up into the unmoored L.A. decadents of “Less Than Zero”? Or would their Wilderness Girl training fortify them against such a fate?
(Creative Commons licensed original images courtesy of “Amy Loves Yah” and “GenBug” at Flickr)