Mr. Troop Mom
Directed By: William Dear
Starring: George Lopez, Daniela Bobadilla, Jane Lynch, Julia Anderson, Elizabeth Thai, Geoff Gustafson, Jessica McLeod, Laine MacNeil, Pyper De Marsh, Jianna Ballard, Mayan Lopez
Film Length: 84 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 16:9/4:3
Subtitles: English SDH, French
Release Date: June 23, 2009
The FilmIn Mr. Troop Mom, George Lopez plays widowed father Eddie Serrano. Eddie is a workaholic attorney who is constantly disappointing his daughter, Naomi (Bobadilla), who is beginning to know her heavily opinionated Au Pair Catalina (Thai) better than her own dad. Eddie stumbles into an opportunity to get into Naomi's good graces when the Mom who planned to take her to summer camp goes into labor, and he is forced to take her place as "troop mom". Eddie is slow to adapt to the camp setting with its strict rules laid down by the imposing Ms. Hulka (Lynch). Despite encouragement from friendly camp counselor C.C. (Anderson), his attempts at troop leading and family bonding are foiled at nearly every turn by his slapstick ineptitude. He also finds himself in the middle of a bitter rivalry between his troop of "Wasps"; including Naomi, emo-girl Sam (MacNeil), hair-obsessed girly-girl Paulina (McLeod), and tomboy Kayla (De Marsh); and the "Killer Bees" led by spoiled diva Skyler (Vallard) and her tough punk-coiffed sidekick Yvette (Mayan Lopez).
Mr. Troop Mom is an almost wholly unoriginal juvenile comedy that seems to have been assembled from the spare parts of just about every made for Disney Channel or Nickelodeon film that has preceded it. Its most novel characteristic is its emphasis on primarily female characters. Other than that, it might as well have been assembled by kids flick checklist. [One absent parent: Check!; Spoiled snobby antagonist: Check!; Busy parent misses important event: Check!; Overconfident adult constantly falling/getting injured: Check!; etc.]. The familiar elements all unspool in an utterly predictable way, which might have a chance to appeal to younger kids who have never seen a movie before, but will not likely do much for other demographics. The real draw for tweens and pre-tweens may very well be the special appearance by the (so I am told) popular Naked Brothers Band during the film's final reel.
George Lopez is essentially playing a slight variation on his sitcom Dad with a more affluent job and more license for physical slapstick. He is indulged a bit too much in terms of allowing for improvisation, resulting in too many moments where he is allowed to stand around riffing over different variations of the same joke. Two or three of his riffs will be really funny, and the rest will get tiresome.
The kids are played by a likeable if unpolished group of honest to goodness juvenile actresses. All are playing characters from a nice area of San Francisco, so rather than your standard slobs versus snobs scenario, it appears to be a somewhat less compelling lower upper class vs. upper upper class rivalry between the two sets of girls. The film is something of a Lopez family affair, as George's wife Ann is credited as an Executive Producer and their daughter Mayan plays one of the rival mean girls. Setting nepotism aside and viewing objectively, Mayan's performance is no less accomplished than most of her peers in the cast, many of whom come across a bit stiff in playing extremely narrowly defined one-dimensional characters.
The VideoThe widescreen presentation of the film fills the entire 16:9 enhanced frame. The presentation is solid, although due to a relatively low bitrate, its seams begin to show as display size increases. Detail is good, but not great, with a touch of digital video softness from time to time affecting the image, although heavy compression artifacts are not an issue. I did not view the 4:3 reformatted version of the film, although based on glimpses of the film's production in the extras, it appears as if the compositions were made at 4:3 in the center of a 16:9 frame. It is possible that it offers the better overall framing without any protected "dead space" on the image sides.
The AudioThe Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is a reasonable rendering of a rather bland "made for TV"-style mix. Surrounds figure in rarely aside from light ambient support. Wide stereo music and effects are applied occasionally across the front channels with dialog mixed dead center. Dynamic range is better than average for TV fare, but not as impactful as one would expect from a theatrical mix.
The ExtrasSpecial features are presented in 4:3 letterboxed video with Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio. Detailed descriptions follow:
George Goes to Camp (5:59) focuses on George Lopez and his part in the movie. Topics covered include physical comedy, improvisation, working with his wife and daughter, and working with kids. In addition to Lopez himself, on camera comments are provided by Executive Producer Ann Lopez, Jane Lynch, Mayan Lopez, Daniella Bobadilla.
Naomi's Journal is an Interactive series of featurettes. A brief introduction (:25) sets up the significance of the journal to the character in the film before a dedicated menu screen appears with some background information on the character, a column of "Blog Entries", and a section called "Friends". The "Blog Entries" (6:24) include the following chapters, accessible individually or via a "Play All" selection:
- Becoming Naomi (:55) Looks at the essence of the character
- My First Film Role (:43) discusses how this was Bobadilla's first major film role and some of her on-set experiences
- Camp Experience(:27) concerns the physical camp activities in the film
- Sharing Daddies (:44) concerns the curious fake dad/real dad relationships Bobadilla and Mayan Lopez maintained with George Lopez during production
- Having Fun on Set discusses how all the girls got along so well (1:35)
On-screen comments are provided by: Bobadilla, George Lopez, Ann Lopez, Mayan Lopez, Julia Anderson, and Elizabeth Thai. Under the "Friends" listing, we have six icons with pictures of characters, five of which have brief video clips linked to them with no "Play All" option:
- Paulina (Jessica McLeod)(:29)
- Sam (Pyper De Marsh) (:21)
- Kayla (Laine MacNeil) (:13)
- Yvette (Mayan Lopez)(:16)
- Skyler (Jianna Ballard) (:21)
- Catalina (Elizabeth Thai) (no video)
Rockin' the Bonfire (3:54) focuses on Nat and Alex Wolff of The Naked Brothers Band who make a special appearance at the end of the film. It begins by discussing their established friendship with the Lopez family and then offers up lots of behind the scenes footage that suggests that music was prescribed to them as an outlet for hyperactivity. On camera comments are offered up by George Lopez, Nat Wolff, Alex Wolff, and Jane Lynch
Killer Bees vs. Wasps (5:06) covers the juvenile cast and their character traits and then gives extra attention to the mother-daughter characters of Skylar and Denise. On camera comments are provided by Jane Lynch, Julia Anderson, Writer Thomas Ian Griffith, April Amber Telek (who plays Denise - Skylar's Mom), Ann Lopez, Daniella Bobadilla, Jianna Ballard, and Mayan Lopez.
All of the above featurettes are very superficial, kid-oriented, and primarily promotional in nature.
Gag Reel (3:39) Mixes unused ad-libs from Lopez with flubbed lines, head-bumping, falling down, and on-set goofing-off.
Additional Scenes are selectable individually or via a "Play All" Feature (4:42). The individual scenes are as follows:
- Eddie and the Dog Man (1:14) Eddie and Harry walk through a hallway discussing their case load and encounter an unusual client when they enter Eddie's office.
- Paulina Gets Duped (1:24) Skylar and her gang trick Paulina into telling her that the Wasps are planning a car wash fundraiser
- Eddie and Denise All Alone(1:19) Denise and Eddie are alone in a school hallway, Denise comes on to him strongly, and Eddie flees awkwardly
- Catalina Surprises Eddie (:43) Catalina is surprised to find workaholic Eddie at home
All of the scenes are from the pre-camp sequences of the movie and were apparently cut to keep things from bogging down. The Paulina Gets Duped scene fills a small plot hole, but the rest were likely easy deletions.
When the disc is first spun-up, the viewer is greeted with the following promos, all presented in 4:3 video, letterboxed when appropriate, with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound unless otherwise indicated:
- Warner Blu-Ray Promo (16:9 Enhanced Video - 1:43)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Theatrical Trailer (1:52)
- 17 Again DVD/BD Trailer (2:22)
- Saturday Morning Cartoons 1960s & 1970s Volume One - (:59)
PackagingThe widescreen and 4:3 reformatted versions of the film are contained on the same side of a dual layered dvd-9 disc along with all of the extras and promos. The disc is packaged in a standard sized "ecobox" with an insert with a code for obtaining a reduced price Windows-Media digital copy of the film.
SummaryMr. Troop Mom is a clichéd family comedy which may entertain younger viewers with its relentless repetetive slapstick, but has little to offer adults watching with their children. It is presented on DVD with a solid transfer kept from excellence by a slight image-softening digital haze and a lackluster 5.1 audio mix faithfully reproduced via Dolby Digital. Extras are plentiful, but thimble deep, with the highlights being sets of bloopers and deleted scenes with a few extra laughs.