Grackles review Valley Girl
Directed by Rachel Lee Goldenberg
Reviewed by Kat Moore and Kendra L. Vanderlip
The totally tubular 80’s cult classic Valley Girl (1983) was directed by Martha Coolidge, who also directed other 80’s classics such as Real Genius and Joy of Sex. Her film Rambling Rose (1991) won an Independent Spirit Award for Best Director, as well as garnered Diane Ladd an Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Actress, and an Oscar nomination for lead actress Laura Dern. In 2002, Coolidge became the first female president for the Director’s Guild of America. The independently produced Valley Girl was her breakout film, and helped launch the career of Nicolas Cage, as well as put Modern English’s “Melt with You” at the top of the charts. In Valley Girl, a girl from the valley, Julie (Deborah Foreman), falls for Randy (Nicolas Cage), a punk boy from Hollywood. Julie’s friends disapprove and want her to get back together with her former boyfriend, the popular jock, Tommy (Michael Bowen). The film is a teen romantic comedy of star-crossed lovers, and, much like Romeo and Juliet, their friends hope to keep them apart. However, it all culminates in a happy ending of teen lust and love.
Valley Girl (2020) is a remake of the cult classic and is directed by Rachel Lee Goldenberg. Goldenberg also directed the film Unpregnant, Adoption, and episodes of The Mindy Project as well as other television series. The remake of Valley Girl has a similar premise. However, this time it is told through flashbacks. Grown-up Julie (Alicia Silverstone) tells her just broken-up-with-daughter about her first love, Randy (Josh Whitehouse). In the flashbacks, young valley girl Julie (Jessica Rothe) falls for Randy, the punk boy from Hollywood. Julie’s friends don’t approve and want her to get back together with Mickey (Logan Paul). This Valley Girl is a jukebox musical.
Kat Moore: I really love the original. I love the original Julie, and Nic Cage as Randy. And Julie’s hippie dippie parents played by Frederic Forest and Colleen Camp. I was a child in the 80s, and I thought everything was so cool and magical. I loved MTV and teen movies. I used to sing Modern English’s “I Melt with You” to my terrier mutt, Spot. Even though I was in Memphis, Tennessee, I said things like “totally, for sure,” and sounded like I was from the valley. I was prepared to totally hate the remake. Yet, I didn’t, at least not completely. I wonder if it’s the loneliness from lockdown, or just pure nostalgia, but I enjoyed watching the remake, even when they butchered some of my favorite 80’s songs. The remake even pushes a somewhat feminist point of view where Julie doesn’t want to only fall in love and marry, she wants a life, a career, she wants to blaze trails like Sally Ride. However, I still think the original is vastly superior.
Kendra L. Vanderlip: I am different than you in the sense that I was only recently introduced to the original movie when a local theater showed it a few months ago. I fell in love with the original. Nicolas Cage’s Randy stole my heart with his punk demeanor and Deborah Foreman’s Julie jumped off the screen with her totally tubular fashion. I agree with you that the original is superior still, in a way that I wasn’t maybe expecting. A remake like this, with loose retellings and playing on the tropes we know and love really is my cup of tea when it comes to movies. But I struggled with a lot in the remake. Like you, I appreciated (and applauded) the more feminist re-branding of this movie/musical; especially the shout-out to Sally Ride who represented the strides woman were making in that era. But in the gloss and glamor of modernizing this story, I thought some of the crucial elements of this movie were lost. The introduction of POC and LGBTQ+ characters felt under-developed, and not given enough screen time to make their integration into the movie seem more than a maneuver that checked bo