Valley Girl Revisited
I recently heard that they were going to remake the film Valley Girl (1983), as a musical. I remember that film well (I remember being a little smitten with the titular girl, not shown in the poster). So I decided to re-watch it. Mistake…
The acting - well Nicholas Cage is Nicholas Cage, even back then - was all short-handed stereotypes to a painful degree. I never understood the motivations of the characters, beyond the hormonal ‘hey, you’re sexy! Let’s make out.”
Yet the film tries desperately and repeatedly to be seen as a modern day Romeo and Juliet. Nic Cage plays Randy, Deborah Foreman plays Julie. In case that wasn’t obvious enough, here’s a picture of them below a theatre marque advertising Romeo and Juliet.
Yes, it’s that heavy-handed.
If it’s going to be Shakespearean in scope, it needs conflict. Tommy, Julie’s exceedingly cliched ex brings that. You know he’s evil because he turns the collar of his shirt up. He’s fashionable, arrogant and reeks of what we’d now call ‘affluenza.’ He doesn’t so much want Julie back as he wants to prove his dominance over her and all women. He plays the sympathy card to get one of her friends to make out with him, then blames her when she asks if he has any feelings for her.
Julie and Randy’s relationship just never quite seems authentic, viewing it now. Character development is limited to pouty faces (both leads) and wardrobe changes (again, both leads). Frankly their best friends have a better, more realistic love/hate relationship. There’s also an awkward subplot about one girl’s mother flirting with her daughter’s boyfriend.
Of course since this technically about high school kids, it culminates at prom, which Julie is attending with Tommy even if she doesn’t care for him. He, in turn, plans this night as his rightful night to have his way with her at a hotel after the dance (worth noting, on this viewing I was surprised at the number of topless women - three - for a film that seems to be about a young woman breaking away from societal norms).
As you’d expect from a high school story, it ends in a fist fight (no weapons, even though this is L.A. and we’re certainly meant to believe that Randy is hat type of boy). We last see our young lovers in Tommy’s limo, heading to Tommy’s hotel room, to apparently shag each other’s brains out, totally, for sure.
Won’t Tommy want to know what happened to his limo?
Won’t he and his friends, go to his hotel room, either looking for her and the limo or to sulk off the indignation of their obviously righteous defeat?
We’ll never know, because ‘happily ever after’ has to end somewhere. Wait, isn’t this supposed to be a Romeo and Juliet retelling? What does ‘happily ever after’ have to do with this?
Deborah Foreman didn’t have much of a career after this. When I was younger, I wondered why. Now I wonder how Nicholas Cage did manage to build a career out of playing basically this same character repeatedly. I’m not saying that he’s bad in this, he’s probably the best part. I’m just saying that this film basically encompasses every role he would ever go on to do.
There are good parts to the movie. The music certainly stands the test of time (some of it any way). I Melt With You by Modern English has certainly held up well, and I remember falling in love with Eyes of a Stranger by the Payola$ (Here with clips from the movie edited in). Both of these songs are still playlists of mine.