Saturday, January 01, 2005

Valley Girl doesn't hold up quite as well 22 years down the road -- certainly not like, say, John Hughes' movies do, like 16 Candles or The Breakfast Club or Pretty in Pink or Ferris Bueller's Day Off -- which was on this afternoon, which got me thinking along this line. Eventhough those movies are dated, they're still very funny and hip and with-it; hate them all you want, they're entertaining and you know it. So was Fast Times at Ridgemont High. They're all reasonably true to the high school milieu as most of us know it. The first problem with Valley Girl is immediately apparent; these aren't teenagers, they're young adults. So there's that level of fakery. And it wasn't really as funny or witty as the others I've mentioned.

Basically it's a rather lame movie about peer pressure and star-crossed lovers; "Romeo and Juliet" in early-1980s punk/New Wave terms. Julie (Deborah Foreman) lives in the California valley; she and her friends are the shopaholic doyennes of well-to-do liberals, who chatter about in that valley way so popularized by Moon Zappa -- grody, gag me with a spoon, to the max, all that shit you hope never to hear again. Randy (Nicolas Cage) is from Hollywood, which in this movie means a young man riding the crest of the New Wave -- big hair, slim ties, hangs out at a club where the house band is the Plimsouls. (The movie does have a great soundtrack.) Randy meets Julie after he and his goofy pal Fred crash a Valley party; it's love at first sight, only for her it's a question of choosing between Randy and her stuck-up friends (who loathe Randy and all things punk.)

From there, it devolves into a very routine high school movie. There's Julie's jealous ex, an arrogant jock, so there are fights, and there's a prom that ends in a kind of stupid food fight.

It's a cultural artifact and it has a sweetly affecting performance by Cage -- the best thing in the movie -- but otherwise, not as good as I remembered.

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