Review by Sean Boelman
Based on the 1983 film of the same name, Valley Girl is a new jukebox musical set to a soundtrack of some of the most iconic hits of the 1980s. Yet despite the movie being rather messy, the unmistakable charm of the story and nostalgia that it will give viewers makes it infinitely enjoyable.
Taking place in Los Angeles in the 1980s, the film follows two star-crossed lovers from different cliques who fall in love to the dismay of their friends and families. A take on the Romeo and Juliet storyline, Valley Girl was never super original, but it won audiences over with its charming blend of the classic tale with high school tropes.
The thing that is missing in this reworking is honesty. A big part of what made the original work is that it captured what teens wanted to be. This movie feels like it’s wrapped up in fantasies of what people think the 80s were like, and while there is a bit of self-awareness in this department (a convenient framing device allows jokes about how this story is wildly unrealistic), that isn’t enough to fill the substantial gap.
That said, the characters in the film are just as lovable as they were in 1983. Even though most audiences will almost certainly know every beat of this story, it’s hard not to get invested in this story of young love. The ragtag crew of archetypes that makes up the ensemble is endlessly entertaining as well, over-the-top clichés and all.
And while it may seem impossible to match Deborah Foreman and Nicolas Cage, Jessica Rothe and Josh Whitehouse do a pretty damn good job of holding their own. The chemistry they have together is great, and both of them handle their musical numbers really well. Some of the supporting cast choices are a little more questionable — the since disgraced Logan Paul seems like a stunt casting that went wrong, and Chloe Bennet feels a bit out-of-place — but they aren’t too distracting as a whole.
Of course, the soundtrack plays an even bigger part in this version than it did in the original, and it is absolutely insane. Genre bends of popular 80s tunes abound, and the cast sounds surprisingly great. Even more impressive are the ridiculous mash-ups, including one mixing “Just Can’t Get Enough”, “Material Girl”, “I Can’t Go For That”, and “Tainted Love” that really shouldn’t work but does anyway.
Visually, there’s a lot of camp to the movie, but it’s almost acceptable. It’s excessive and even goofy at times, but it’s way cuter than it deserves to be. The oversaturation in the film can be a bit much at times, and easily could have been fixed, but otherwise, everything about the cinematography and production design feels like it could’ve come out of any cheesy 80s collection.
On paper, this musical remake of Valley Girl should be a total mess, but somehow, the cast and crew pulled the pieces together in an amusing way. Although it might not have been meant this way, the movie is best enjoyed if it isn’t taken too seriously, because it’s a lot of mindless fun.
Valley Girl is now available on VOD.