Viking Night: Valley Girl
By Bruce Hall
July 10, 2012
I’d love to say that Valley Girl goes on to make a salient point about peer pressure and the need for shallow teenagers everywhere to embrace their differences. But instead the film spins off in a hundred different directions, eager to hit all the standard teen comedy beats while doing its best to mimic better, more innovative films. For some, the colorful clothes, catchy soundtrack and smattering of memorable dialogue is enough. Valley Girl DOES capture the banal, carefree vibe that is your life when money doesn’t matter and you KNOW you’re going to get into college of your choice. For more discriminating viewers, the experience will be more empty. Much like Randy and his friends, Valley Girl is as ordinary and predictable as everything that tries a little too hard to be different.
First off, the leads are unattractive and have no chemistry. For me, it’s really a tossup between Nicolas Cage’s big furry unibrow and Deborah Foreman’s unappealing dental situation. Either way, it’s hard to have a romantic comedy when your two leads are so hard to look at, and even harder to look at when they’re together. Plus, the story is full of distracting threads that never go anywhere, despite taking up TONS of screen time. Julie’s hippie parents are a running gag who fail to add many laughs. Her ditzy friend Loryn gets Jennifer Jason Leigh’s part, well on her way to becoming a statistic before the film drops her story like a hot rock. And there’s the baffling thread involving a delivery boy sex fantasy that has nothing to do with the rest of the film, and even brings the story to an excruciatingly painful halt, at one point.
It’s all meant to be funny but it’s not, because it’s so poorly written. I won’t name names here, because quite frankly I have nothing good to say about this script. Valley Girl commits the one sin a romantic comedy can ill afford to make - it is not romantic OR funny for any significant length of time. And the saddest part is that it’s not because it doesn’t try - it’s because it doesn’t have the ability. Like Randy, we’re batting out of our league here. Case in point: there’s an obligatory musical montage in the middle of the film that’s intended to show us what fun Randy and Julie are having together. It ends up being unintentionally ludicrous when you realize that it’s physically impossible for two people to have spent that much time together in only two weeks.
Maybe that doesn’t seem like a big deal, but over the course of a four minute song Randy and Julie go on about Fifty First Dates. It’s implausible even by such low standards, and it’s an excellent example of the film’s overall inattention to detail.
Valley Girl feels more like a collection of failed sketches than a single coherent story. My guess is Martha Coolidge directed this on a dare, but I wasn’t there so I can’t say for sure. What I can say is that this movie spends most of its time trying to remind you of other movies, so if you’d like to have the intended experience, rent yourself The Graduate, American Graffiti, Grease, and Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Watch them all in the same night. Somewhere in there is the movie Valley Girl wanted to be. If you can find it, let me know.
I hate to say it, but Valley Girl is grody to the max. Just...barf me out. TOTALLY.