The original Valley Girl, released in April 1983, starred Nicolas Cage as a rebel without a cause-type bad boy who falls hard for a pretty and uptight valley girl played by Deborah Foreman. She’s equally attracted to this boy from the wrong part of LA and their connection causes high drama within her squad of snobby friends. Cage’s Randy was the very definition of a brooding, punk rock boyfriend. Foreman’s Julie was the sweet and innocent good girl who dipped her toes into the wild and weird life of Hollywood and found it irresistible.
The 2020 remake tosses in all the requisite ‘80s “valley girl” lingo and keeps the basic storyline intact. However, it’s not a rigid remake. The 2020 release makes better use of the music from the era and does a better job than the original of fleshing out the characters and completing their stories. Plus, there’s the added bonus of high-energy dance numbers (choreographed by Mandy Moore…no, not This Is Us’ Mandy Moore) which weren’t part of the original movie.
The action in the reimagined version centers around the turmoil caused by the budding romantic relationship between Julie (Jessica Rothe) and Randy (Josh Whitehouse). Julie’s a popular high school girl dating a jock and spending her free time hanging at the Galleria with her BFFs. Randy’s a struggling musician who devotes his time to writing songs and to whom the idea of visiting the San Fernando Valley is as appealing as having his fingernails ripped off one by one. Yet somehow these polar opposites are drawn together despite forces (well-meaning friends) attempting to rip them apart.
Will Julie toss aside the studly jock, commit the high crime of dating outside her clique, and embrace the unknown by choosing the free-spirited outsider? Have you ever watched a coming-of-age romantic comedy in your life? The outcome’s not the point; it’s all about the entertaining journey to get there. And Valley Girl takes us on that journey in a totally rad, really bitchin’ way.
Alicia Silverstone, the star of one of the best teen romcoms ever produced (Clueless), has a key supporting role as an adult Julie looking back on her time in high school. Her memories seem a bit foggy as she recalls dancing in malls and busting out in musical numbers. It’s a smart plot device that’s well utilized as a way of explaining why we care about San Fernando Valley in the ‘80s all these decades later.
Jessica Rothe (Happy Death Day) and Josh Whitehouse (Poldark) are solid as the star-crossed couple from opposite sides of the tracks. The chemistry’s there on the screen and they’re not too shabby in the musical numbers. The supporting cast – including Mae Whitman, Chloe Bennet, Jessie Ennis, and Ashleigh Murray – also do a terrific job of embracing the ‘80s vibe.
Valley Girl took a slow, bumpy ride on its way to release. Originally scheduled for a theatrical release back in June 2018, the remake’s digital release comes while there are still plenty of us staying safe in our homes as the Covid-19 pandemic rages around the globe. 2020’s Valley Girl delivers bouncy, bubbly, escapist entertainment. And, like, seriously, don’t we all (not just girls) just wanna have a little fun right now?
(Keep your eyes open for brief cameos by cast members from the original film.)
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for teen partying, language, some suggestive material, and brief nudity
Release: May 8, 2020
Running Time: 104 minutes
Studio: Orion Classics