By Mark Saldana

Rating: 3 (Out of 4 Stars)

Great performances by the adult cast, vibrant and exciting performances by the kids, and an undeniably sincere heart elevate this otherwise all-too-familiar band of misfits/underdogs movie. Most adult movie goers of different generations have already seen this formula. For my generation, it is The Bad News Bears. For later generations, The Sandlot is huge. Now this particular movie isn’t about baseball, but it is certainly about a group of kids who don’t fit in and can’t seem to do anything right. Well, regardless of its lack of originality, Troop Zero works well enough as a heartfelt and entertaining piece for the whole family.

McKenna Grace stars as Christmas Flint, a sweet, but awkward young girl obsessed with space, who dreams of traveling the cosmos one day. Christmas sadly lost her beloved mother too soon, and lives with her widowed father (Jim Gaffigan), a small town lawyer with a very poor track record. The only true mother figure in her life is her father’s legal assistant Miss Rayleen (Viola Davis), a smart, stern, but nevertheless caring lady who helps watch over Christmas. Christmas’s only good friend is Joseph (Charlie Shotwell) a young boy who prefers more feminine interests rather than become the more masculine athlete his father wants him to be.

While eavesdropping on a Birdie Scout meeting, Christmas and Joseph discover that the upcoming Scout jamboree will feature a talent show where the winning troop will get to contribute to a recording that will be launched into space. Desperate to become part of history, Christmas, with Joseph’s help, assembles together a rough, rag-tag group of Birdie Scouts to form her own troop. This proves to be a rather difficult task, as each of these misfits bring with them different kinds of trouble. It.is up to Troop Zero wih the help of Troop Mother Rayleen to discover their strengths and put aside their differences to work well as a team.

Written by Lucy Alibar and directed by Bert & Bertie, Troop Zero is a delightfully charming movie that earns its laughs and is sure to win some love by both children and adults. The movie is fairly transparent and predictable, but manages to have a few surprises well hidden. As I stated above, the movie has a wonderful cast of bith adults and children. In addition to the actors, whom I have already mentioned, the film features great acting by Allison Janney and Mike Epps.

At the heart of the movie, though, are actors McKenna Grace and Viola Davis who shine brightly on their own and share a lovely chemistry together. Charlie Shotwell gives an awesome performance as the only male Birdie Scout, Joseph. Troop Zero also feature the vibrant and exciting work by Johanna Colón, Milan Ray, and Ashley Brooke.

Grace, Shotwell, and Ray came to Austin to present their movie at an Alamo Drafthouse theater the day before its release on Amazon streaming. There joyful personalities won over their screening audience last Thursday night. Troop Zero is now available for viewing on Amazon. It isn’t a movie I’d recommend spending top dollar to see in a theater, so this format is absolutely perfect. It is definitely a great movie for the families to enjoy in the comfort of their own homes.

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