Viking Night: Valley Girl
By Bruce Hall
July 10, 2012
Hooray for Hollywood! And hooray for romantic comedies, where the women are prizes to be awarded to the strongest man!
At least, that’s my attitude after seeing Valley Girl for the first time in at least a decade. And just as before, it’s hard for me to understand how something so dull had ever been so popular. But the one thing a successful romantic comedy needs is a hook, and in that department Valley Girl is off the charts. Valley Culture was a John Hughes movie with blunt head trauma crossed with I Can’t Believe it’s Not a Thesaurus. What passed for slang in the San Fernando Valley circa 1983 would soon sweep the country, resulting in a totally tubular generation of semi-literate chimps whose progeny went on to populate things like Internet chat rooms, Facebook and Twitter, where the English Language has been dying a slow death ever since.
Like gag me totally with a pitchfork and whatever.
Like its namesake, Valley Girl could have done something original with all that creative energy, but instead it went with being colorfully obnoxious. Aside from the clothes and the colloquialism, this is a pretty standard girl-meets-boy-from-wrong-side-of-the-tracks story, so believe me, you know the drill. Julie (Deborah Foreman) and her handsomely thick boyfriend Tommy (Michael Bowen) are coddled, upper middle class high school kids. She’s a vapid, materialistic attention junkie. He’s a vapid, materialistic adrenaline junkie. The reason she’s dating him is because this is a romantic comedy, which requires Julie to be dating a douchebag when the movie begins.
Still, Julie makes the smartest move of her life when she pulls up stakes and kicks Tommy to the curb. Like most of the characters in this movie, Tommy is comically unlikeable so you really want to see Julie trade up. In her mind she does, when she later finds herself entertaining a swarthy crasher at a friend’s house party. Randy (Nicolas Cage) and Fred (Cameron Dye) are a couple of drifters from Hollywood, meaning they do not drive Porsches and do not wear pink polo shirts with Jordache jeans, and do not have poofy feathered hair. This puts them at odds with Tommy, who not only enjoys sherbet colored Polo shirts, but is also a violent drunk who aims to win Julie back by sleeping with her friends and commanding his minions to beat up Randy and Fred.
Tommy’s plan turns out to be like, totally splendiferously bogus, as it pushes Julie closer to her new crush. Randy decides to demonstrate his love for Julie by sneaking back into the party and hiding in the bathroom until she eventually shows up to fix her face. Naturally she is enchanted, and somehow unaffected by the fact that some creepy guy she just met crawled into the bathroom window and spent half an hour curled up in the shower, listening to random strangers poop while he waited for her. But the true test of Julie and Randy’s love will not be his persistent stalking, or the fact that he dresses like the bass player from Men at Work. It will be Julie’s friends, whose entire social life depends on the most popular girl in class dating the right kind of guy.