Cinema Monolith

Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.

Valley Girl

Valley GirlCinema Monolith: 8/10 This film is part of the Cinema Monolith collection!
IMDb: 6.3/10
Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide: **½ out of 4

Released on April 29, 1983
Rated R
99 minutes

Directed by Martha Coolidge

Written by Wayne Crawford and Andrew Lane

Cast: Deborah Foreman, Nicolas Cage, Elizabeth Daily, Heidi Holicker, Cameron Dye, Lee Purcell, Michelle Meyrink, Frederic Forrest, Colleen Camp, David Ensor, Michael Bowen, Richard Sanders, Joyce Hyser, Joanne Baron, Steven Bauer

Being such a Deborah Foreman devotee for so many years, and a fan of ’80s teen comedies since, well, the 1980s, it may come as a surprise to learn that I’d never seen Valley Girl until recently, an oversight I really can’t explain. Maybe it was due to the stigma the term ‘valley girl’ had nurtured in my mind over time, and the fact that the ridiculous Frank Zappa song of the same name not only made me want to gag myself with a spoon, but repeatedly gouge my ears with one as well.

However, being a follower of Miss Foreman for quite some time, and having been eager to see as many of her films as possible, I finally took a chance with Valley Girl, and was startled to discover it had nothing at all do with the typical valley girl vibe, save for maybe five minutes of food court Valleyspeak at the start. Instead, it concentrated more on the sweet Shakespearean romance between a San Fernando Valley high school girl and a punk rock dude from Hollywood, two kids from opposite sides of the tracks who meet at a party and discover an unexpected attraction for each other.

What really struck me—besides Deborah’s high-end level of adorability and the sunny disposition of 1980s LA—was just how much I was taken in by the down-to-earth relationship that blossomed between Randy (as played by relative newcomer Nicolas Cage) and Deborah’s character Julie, that was just about as sweet and believable as you’ll ever see. Interestingly enough, the ‘val’ and ‘punk’ aspects of their characters simply faded away after a while, and instead the story and the viewer focused on the interactions and courtship of a typical high school couple, and how they dealt with peer pressure, parents, breaking up, and Julie’s bothersome ex-boyfriend Tommy.

Foreman and Cage were of course the main attraction here, and were a whole mess of fun together; their rapport had you bonding with Randy and Julie from the very start. But credit for the film’s appeal should also go to Martha Coolidge, directing her first mainstream movie, who delivered a satisfying microcosm of Southern California high school life, and along with the two writers hit all the right notes of the genre, while also adding deeper layers to the film’s outer edges. Even the choice of new wave songs of the era were a plus, enhancing scenes with background flavor instead of merely serving as fodder for a record soundtrack.

As you’ve probably figured out by now, and yes I’m going to say it, I totally loved this movie, and now consider it one of my favorites—if not the favorite—of the ’80s teen rom-com genre. Admittedly, my thoughts here may be a little biased, considering the film takes me back to a favorite time in my life, but remove that factor from the equation and you still have a solid teen romance story that hits the mark, and remains an enjoyable watch all the way through to its understated and purely enchanting end. And no, you’ll never see Nicolas Cage this young again.  (8/10)

Valley Girl

4 comments on “Valley Girl

  1. Popcorn Nights
    4/10/14

    Wow, high praise indeed. I’ve never seen this (and hadn’t actually heard of it before) but as a fan of the genre I’m very tempted after reading your review. Good chemistry is key to films like this, isn’t it?

    It’s not a comment without a pithy statement, though: I was thinking about how I needed a new ‘look’ the other day and Cage’s get-up in the poster above certainly fits the bill. It’ll be the talk of the office!

    • Todd Benefiel
      4/10/14

      Yes Stu, I’d say definitely check this one out if you’re a fan of these movies…a step above the norm, I’d say. I’d read where the studio insisted on four topless scenes, because they’d assumed it was typical 80s teen nonsense…then when they watched it, one of the studio heads said, ‘Hey, this is actually a movie!” But remember, this one hit a few soft spots for me, so don’t sue me if it’s not up to your usual high standards!

      And if you really want to be the talk of your office, you could always change your look to match the other person in that poster…

  2. Julie Dunning
    4/10/14

    Another super review that has me wanting to see the movie! Great job Todd – thanks! The time and effort you put into your reviews is evident and much appreciated!

    • Todd Benefiel
      4/10/14

      Well thank you, Julie! I think you’ll like this one, even though there are no appearances by Sam Elliott or David Hedison, and no songs by Bobby Sherman!

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Review Totals

Movies Reviewed: 159

From the Monolith: 87

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