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VALLEY GIRL

     

For Hicksflicks.com, Friday, Nov. 30, 2018

EDITOR’S NOTE: Nicolas Cage made an impression in his second film, the raunchy-and-sweet ‘Valley Girl,’ a romantic comedy that follows a formula now used by most 21st century rom-coms (what was once the exception has become the rule). ‘Valley Girl’ became a modest box-office hit in theaters 35 years ago, and now The Shout! Factory has given the film a Blu-ray upgrade. Here’s my review, published in the Deseret News on Sept. 22, 1983.

Like “Risky Business,” “Valley Girl” is a cut above most teenage sex comedies we get these days. And unlike “Risky Business,” “Valley Girl” has an interesting main storyline that is very well developed. But, this picture also has several awful subplots that are labored and tedious, undercutting the its better intentions.

With female nudity exploited here and there, it’s something of a surprise to find that “Valley Girl” is the first feature directed by respected documentary filmmaker Martha Coolidge. Sadly, such commercial condescension mars what is otherwise a witty, sharply tuned comment on high school life.

Deborah Foreman stars as Julie, a young girl living in “The Valley” of Los Angeles, whose biggest worries are what new clothes to buy and who’s dating whom among her friends. Fer sure, fer sure. Like, tubular, ya know?

     

          Deborah Foreman, Nicolas Cage, 'Valley Girl'

Nicolas Cage is Randy, a punker from Hollywood High, whose lifestyle and standards are extremely different from Julie’s.

So naturally the two fall in love.

But Julie’s girlfriends, a snobbish bunch, think she’s ruining her life by dating Randy, so they manipulate a way to get her back together with Tommy (Michael Bowen), Valley High’s chief jock … or perhaps that should be jerk.

This story is realistic, entertaining, rather sweet and gives us characters we really come to care about during the course of the film. But subplots abound, and each is weaker than the next. These unfortunately alternate frequently with the main story, damaging the film so that it never recovers.

Among said subplots are: The boy who desires a coming-of-age experience with his girlfriend’s mother (a la “Summer of ’42”), the parents who are out-of-step ’60s radicals that have never entered the ’80s, and the girl who is used by her best friend’s boyfriend.

     

These various subplots are not funny and all look as if they were lifted from other films, from lesser examples of the genre.

And to top it all off, the film’s final moment seems to say that if you want to prove your love, have sex. That’s a sad message coming from such an intelligently handled main storyline.

The acting is very good, with Foreman and Cage doing fine star turns. And “Valley Girl,” in its own way, resembles “Baby, It’s You,” with the same kind of tale of the boy from the wrong side of the tracks that meets a girl from the right side. But because it so early on loses its vision, its achievements are considerably less.

Rated R for a couple of sex scenes and nudity, as well as profanity, “Valley Girl” is yet another missed opportunity. There seem to be a lot of these playing the local theaters these days.