It’s a film the world needs now and it could not have been timed better. There is no way around the heartbreak, frustrations and uncharted waters engulfing us on a daily basis during this pandemic and we’re desperate for a few rays of light. And while there are bigger and more important things going on, escapism through movies, music, books, television and many other avenues will keep us going. While cinemas are closed, there are still some gems out there to enjoy and Valley Girl, a colourful, gleeful, uplifting and somehow brilliantly timed film is here for everyone to switch off and escape into the 1980s.
A remake of the 1983 teen comedy starring a very young Nicolas Cage – still treading the fine line between crazy and eccentric, even back then – this transports us to the kaleidoscopic surrounds of Los Angeles by means of flashback as Julie (Alicia Silverstone) recounts her first love affair some four decades earlier. Back then, younger Julie (the ever-brilliant Jessica Rothe) is on the path to post-high-school stardom: great grades, close friends and popularity seem to be all she’s ever wanted. Until a chance encounter with Randy (Josh Whitehouse), an outsider who is part of a punk band and whose carefree lifestyle opposes Julie’s but may be exactly what she has been missing.
Making no bones about what type of film it is and what it wants to be on a surface level, Valley Girl is something of a dark horse: a joyous, cheesy romp through the neon-infused sights and sounds of the decade of Madonna, Marty McFly and punk rock that while it isn’t wholly original, it has a kitschy, camp appeal that is just what the doctor ordered.
Directed with gusto and pizazz by Rachel Lee Goldenberg, it certainly won’t win the originality award at the prom but its carefree, infectious energy keeps it ticking along nicely. Indeed, that isn’t to say it’s a hollow film as it uses its 80s setting to tackle some important issues around sexuality, conforming, feminism and peer pressure that feel as relevant today as they did in a time long past.
While it doesn’t break any new ground, Valley Girl is a peppy, energetic romp with enough excitement and sweet love story motifs to send hearts singing and toes a-tapping. And right now, we could all do with some of that, couldn’t we?
Comedy, Musical | USA, 2020 | 12 | 8th May 2020 | Digital | Orion Pictures | Dir: Rachel Lee Goldenberg |Jessica Rothe, Joshua Whitehouse, Chloe Bennet, Mae Whitman, Ashleigh Murray,Judy Greer, Alicia Silverstone