Friday Film Review--"Valley Girl"
A new movie, available via streaming and the occasional drive-in, returns once again to the 1980’s. Rick Brough has this week’s Friday Film review.
The year 2020 has been sort of gnarly, so you might be in the mood for a heavy-on-the cheese remake of the half-remembered Eighties classic “Valley Girl.”
The original was a Romeo and Juliet story, and also the first starring role for Nicolas Cage.
The new version is a musical and starts in the present day, with a young Millenial named Ruby. She’s caught up in the angst of a boyfriend break-up and questions about her future, and certain that her mother could never understand what she’s going through.
The mom, named Julie, is played by Alicia Silverstone. (Hey, thanks for reminding us that we’re old!)
She tells the story of her own coming-of-age in the San Fernando Valley—shopping with her friends in the pastel-paradise local mall; frolicking on the beach to the tune of “Girls Just Want To Have Fun; and partying at the roller-disco.
Then she meets Randy, a musician from the punk Hollywood scene, and they fall for each other—resulting in the usual complications, with each one struggling to fit into the other’s world, facing peer pressure from friends and parents.
Fortunately, the plot doesn’t matter too much. About every six or seven minutes, someone bursts out singing and dancing to another Top 40 standard from the era. It’s like watching an infomercial for a Greatest Hits of the Eighties album—with just a little more dramatic depth.
The director, Rachel Lee Goldenburg, keeps the story moving with a fizzy energy perhaps inspired by “La La Land.” The stars are bland. Leading lady Jessica Rothe looks like she’s modeled on Rachel McAdams. Josh Whitehouse, as punker Randy, seems to be patterned on early Heath Ledger.
The historical references in the movie place it in 1983—the date of the original film—and it’s soaked in period detail. Julie’s mom, just before a date, advises "Just Say No.” Her hapless dad plays with his new video-cam and wonders if he should invest in this new thing called MacIntosh. And Julie’s discarded boyfriend is an arrogant blonde jock, the kind of guy who’s just begging to get kicked in the face by Mr. Miyagi.
In the category of retro 80’s rom-coms, the undisputed champ is still “The Wedding Singer.”
The new “Valley Girl” can be a Guilty Pleasure, and it passes the time. But it’s still just two-and-a-half disco balls out of five. For the Friday Film Review, I’m Rick Brough.