‘Valley Girl’ Movie Review: The Happy, Uplifting Movie We Need Right Now
1983’s Valley Girl was Nicolas Cage’s first leading role in a movie. It’s still one of the lesser known ’80s movies fans of John Hughes or Fast Times at Ridgemont High will watch. To a 2020 audience, it would be a time capsule, and that’s the approach the 2020 Valley Girl takes. It is a look back at the ’80s, and it is a musical romp through the ’80s music catalog.
Julie (’90s “it” girl Alicia Silverstone) tells her daughter (Camila Morrone) the story of her first love, which automatically makes it a flashback to the ‘80s. It’s also a full musical where the characters break into song.
Boy meets ‘Valley Girl’
The plot of Valley Girl was always very simple. Teenage Julie (Jessica Rothe) is going with Mickey (Logan Paul) but tires of his vapid popularity obsession. She meets Randy (Josh Whitehouse), a punk from Hollywood. They have a whirlwind romance but then have trouble fitting into each other’s worlds.
Honestly, this is a very basic boy meets girl story. The conflicts of middle class valley stereotypes and “wrong side of the tracks” Hollywood boys was pretty basic. When Valley Girl was contemporary, it didn’t even have the ‘80s quality to it. So you were just watching a simple formula rom-com in modern day. There was totally room to fill it with musical numbers!
‘Valley Girl’ steps up
Valley Girl is a Mandy Moore choreography showcase. The choreographer of La La Land creates a dance party to ‘80s covers that will make you want to get up and dance too. Since this is premiering on VOD, you can dance in your own home. That’s one advantage over a theater.
The songs on the 1983 film’s soundtrack became ’80s classics, but by 2020, everyone already knows all the ’80s songs. So Valley Girl features the cast singing familiar ‘80s music. Why not? Would fake ’80s music be better? Well, yes, brand new ’80s style originals would be wonderful too, although Teen Witch did that in the ’80s. Then you would only get a few new originals. Valley Girl puts a fun twist on the jukebox musical and can use many more pre-existing songs.
There’s some remixing, slowing down, speeding up, duets and medleys to mix up the classic music. Who cares what it’s about? Valley Girl was already thin, although the advantage of hindsight gives the 2020 film a somewhat deeper perspective on the romantic conflict. Yes, they sing about falling in love, but these are also kids learning to be in a real relationship for the first time. It’s the first time they’re making each mistake, and let’s hope when they make up for them, it sticks into their adult lives.
Rothe is fantastic. The same energy she brings to Happy Death Day, she puts into dance and singing. Whitehouse plays Randy more human than eccentric and it works for this take. Breaking into song is already eccentric. It’s also great to hear Mae Whitman, Jessie Ennis, Chloe Bennet and Ashleigh Murray sing. Murray is Josie on Riverdale so this is a different style for her.
It’s still ‘Valley Girl’
Valley Girl does get a little plot heavy and less musical. They’ve got to burn through the conflicting worlds of Julie and Randy. If only there were some ’80s song about lovers having trouble they could have sung during that time. Oh well, at least there is still ‘80s music in the background of those scenes.
There would never be a bad time to revisit the ‘80s with a charming, endearing joy machine like Valley Girl. However, coming right into homes two months into a quarantine when people are having a hard time day to day, Valley Girl is just the kind of movie that can lift your spirits.