Valley Girl (1983) / Comedy-Romance
MPAA Rated: R for nudity, sexual situations and language
Running time: 95 min.
Cast: Deborah Foreman, Nicolas Cage, Michael Bowen, Cameron Dye, Elizabeth Daily, Heidi Holicker, Michelle Meyrink, Tina Theberge, Frederic Forest, Colleen Camp
Director: Martha Coolidge
Screenplay: Wayne Crawford, Andrew Lane
With DVD soaring to popularity, many films from yesteryear are being released for the first time in a while. Most of them might be favorites when we were kids, so we scoop them up. The nostalgia value alone is well worth it. However, I have found that many films just don't stand the test of time. Either they feel dated or just seemed better when I was a kid, and not very discriminating in my tastes when it came to movies. I was just glad to go to one.
Valley Girl isn't one of the movies I grew up on. It's a little before my time, both in its music and its fashions, but I have to say that I can see why it would have great nostalgia value for many. It's fun to see the crazy outfits, the hip new wave/punk soundtrack, and of course, the trendy vernacular.
The Valley Girl of the title is Julie, played by Deborah Foreman (Waxwork, April Fool's Day), an early 80s star who seemingly dropped of the movie scene not too long after making this. Tommy (Bowen, Jackie Brown) is her jerk of a boyfriend, a guy so dense that she doesn't mind ditching him for the adventurous but sweet-natured Hollywood punker from the "other side of the tracks", Randy (Cage, Red Rock West). As fond as Julie is of Randy, her friends think she should stick to Valley guys, and soon Julie must decide whether to go with her heart or please her friends to remain one of the most popular girls in school.
It's a knowing homage to "Romeo and Juliet" but with modern (or I should say Mod) sensibilities. Valley Girl was a fairly low budget film, even for its era, reportedly costing only $350,000 dollars. Director Coolidge (Real Genius, The Prince & Me) does the best she can in bringing the sweet side of this story out, where it easily have been exploitative and too hip for its own good. The acting isn't always the best, nor the behavior of the characters at times, but the two leads are entertaining enough to forgive the hokey qualities of rest of the film.
Valley Girl is one of those quintessential 80s flicks that actually stands up pretty well over time, and that's because it isn't really about Valley-speak or hot trends, although there's plenty of that in the mix. It's about two people that want to be together, even though everyone tells them they can't, and the agony that all of this implies. It's probably not the deepest or most profound telling of this oft-utilized theme, but it didn't need to be. As purely an entertainment piece, the unique blend of music, wardrobe, and kooky characters sets it apart enough to have its own special flavor. Not everyone will fall in love with this film, as it is rather silly, and yes, quite dated. But for those stocking up on flicks that meant something to you as a teen in the early 80s, Valley Girl is an absolute necessity for your collection.
©2003 Vince Leo