- 04 Jul - 10 Jul, 2020
- 23 May - 29 May, 2020
Valley Girl is a re-imagination of the 1983 film for a generation raised on Baz Luhrmann films and Glee. It’s a celebration of kitsch and of the 80s as they’re remembered. Everything about director Rachel Lee Goldenberg’s film is bright, garish, and peppy. Although watchable as a sort of mindless flashback, it doesn’t work as a movie. Replete with obligatory cultural references, cringe-worthy fashion statements and hairdos, the filmmakers cram as much nostalgia-baiting as they can into 100-odd minutes. The musical numbers, all covers of popular pop tunes from the decade in question, vary from overproduced song-and-dance numbers to painful reminders that some things are better left in the past.
Valley Girl uses a wrap-around structure that appears to have been weirdly inspired by The Princess Bride. A mother (played by an uncredited Alicia Silverstone) tells her adult daughter (Camilla Morrone) a story from long ago and not-so-far-away. The girl is initially uninterested but, after a while, she gets into it and can’t help but offer commentary.
Jessica Rothe plays high school senior Julie Richman, the 18-year old version of Silverstone’s character. With college looming, she’s experiencing an existential crisis. She’s not happy with her life or her picture-perfect boyfriend, budding tennis star Mickey (Logan Paul). Deciding that she needs a change, she dumps Mickey and starts hanging out with soulful Randy (Josh Whitehouse), who sees her on the beach and pursues her to a party. When her friends discover that she has exchanged Mickey for a wrong-side-of-the-tracks punk rocker, they are horrified. Her mother (Judy Greer) is equally displeased. Meanwhile, Randy’s friends see Julie is pampered and prissy. As the two mismatched lovers fight through the culture clash between the Valley and Hollywood, they find enough time to do a lot of singing and dancing.
The film’s rom-com aspirations are stale. Jessica Rothe is a little too goody-too-shoes; her character might have benefitted from something resembling an edge. Josh Whitehouse has the smoldering eyes of a matinee idol. While both Rothe and Whitehouse are photogenic, they don’t generate much in the way of a visible spark. This “meh” chemistry makes it difficult to root for their unlikely romance.
Overall, Valley Girl is an 80s artifact that either should have been given a more interesting makeover or been left untouched in the dustbin of the decade that spawned it.