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True love is only a zip code away!

Julie is, like, so over her preppy boyfriend, she dumps him on the escalator at the Galleria. And when she meets punker Randy, her eyes practically bug out because she thinks he is sexy even though he makes her friends gag! But even if Randy's ready to stop the world and melt with her, can Julie risk losing her friends and her super popularity at school just to be with him? I'm so sure!

Martha Coolidge
Nicolas Cage, Deborah Foreman
Writing Credits:
Wayne Crawford, Andrew Lane

She's cool. He's hot. She's from the Valley. He's not.

Box Office:
Budget $350 thousand MPAA:

Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
Fullscreen 1.33:1
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English Monaural
French Monaural

Runtime: 99 min.
Price: $19.98
Release Date: 8/5/2003

• Audio Commentary with Director Martha Coolidge
• Video Commentary Track
• Eighties Trivia Track
• “Valley Girl: 20 Totally Tubular Years Later” Featurette
• “The Music of Valley Girl” Featurette
• “In Conversation: Nicolas Cage and Martha Coolidge” Featurette
• Music Videos
• Storyboard-to-Film Comparisons
• Trailers.

Search Titles:

Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


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Valley Girl (1983)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 21, 2003)

Every once in a while, a movie that seems like nothing more than an opportunistic trend-follower actually manages to become something more than that. 1983’s Valley Girl falls into that category. On the surface, it offered a crude tie-in for the 1982 hit song by Frank and Moon Unit Zappa, and it probably should have faded from view as rapidly as did that novelty number.

However, against the odds, Valley Girl emerged as something of a cult classic. It opens with images of a group of teen girls cavorting at the mall. We meet the most popular one, Julie (Deborah Foreman), and find out that she’s dating Tommy (Michael Bowen). However, things are getting stale from her point of view, so she dumps him. Julie sees the supposedly punk-influenced Randy (Nicolas Cage) at the beach, and some sparks fly.

The pair meet again at a party thrown by Julie’s friend Suzi (Michelle Meyrink). The Valley kids reject Hollywood punker Randy, and Tommy beats him up and tosses him out of the party along with his buddy Fred (Cameron Dye). However, the resilient Randy sneaks back in and gets Julie to leave. She brings along her friend Stacey (Heidi Holicker) to accompany Fred, though she shows no interest in him.

The group go to a Hollywood club and we see the clash of the two cultures. Nonetheless, Randy and Julie click, and they soon become a major item. Unfortunately, her friends don’t approve of Randy and they want her to reunite with Tommy. They badger Julie to dump Randy, and eventually she accedes to their demands. Randy struggles to get her back, and this leads to a climactic confrontation at Julie’s prom.

On the positive side, Valley Girl indeed seems more interesting than one might expect of this sort of semi-exploitation flick. Usually quick “’cash-in” movies take the form of disasters such as the recent From Justin to Kelly, a film few will remember positively 20 years from now. Valley has enough heart and life to make it better than anyone anticipated at the time.

That said, I must admit I don’t see anything about it that makes the film particularly special. It’s a relentlessly average flick, and while that made it superior to what it should have been, it doesn’t mean that Valley ever turns especially memorable. Of course, the presence of a very young Nicolas Cage in a lead role adds historical interest to the flick, and he offers some of its best moments. Cage’s Randy seems like an effortlessly unusual personality. He comes across as far from “punk”, but he manages to create a personality unlike any seen from the usual young actor.

Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for the relentlessly drab Foreman. She plays Julie in such a bland way that it becomes absolutely impossible to see what Randy likes about the character. Sure, she’s pretty, but so are all of her friends. Heck, Foreman’s possibly the least attractive of her little gang. She fails to display much personality and becomes a bit of a void at the heart of the film.

Even at a short 99 minutes, Valley seems padded. It moves in an inconsistent way as characters come and go for little logical reason. For example, Fred totally vanishes for much of the film and he doesn’t return until the story decides it needs him. The flick also suffers from some unnecessary subplots such as the one in which Skip (David Ensor) has to decide between his potential girlfriend Suzi and an affair with her mom (Lee Purcell). This story has little to do with anything and it goes virtually nowhere other than to offer irrelevant references to The Graduate.

Valley Girl sure likes to trumpet its allusions. That’s why Suzi’s mom tells Skip of the importance of “plastics” and why we see Julie and Randy stand in front of a movie marquee that displays the title Romeo and Juliet. For the most part, Valley Girl does just gives us a fairly bland updating of that Shakespeare classic, but it wears its inspirations so firmly on its sleeve that it falters. The references don’t feel like satire; they’re nothing more than uninspired allusions.

Somebody must really like Valley Girl, for its come to earn a pretty decent reputation over the last 20 years. While it has some moments and remains uniformly watchable at all times, it lacks the spark and flair that could make it become something above average. As it stands, the movie comes across as little more than a fairly limp version of Romeo and Juliet.

The DVD Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B/ Bonus B+

Valley Girl appears in both an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 and in a fullscreen version on this double-sided DVD-14; the widescreen image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Only the letterboxed picture was reviewed for this article. Given the film’s age and low budget, I didn’t expect much from the image, but I found it to look surprisingly positive.

Sharpness seemed strong. The movie always appeared nicely distinct and well defined. I noticed no significant examples of softness in this accurate and detailed picture. Jagged edges and moiré effects created no concerns, and only a hint of edge enhancement showed up on a few occasions. As for print flaws, the film looked astonishingly clean. The flick was free of any form of defect.

Many Eighties movies suffer from bland colors, but the palette of Valley Girl seemed pretty solid. The tones occasionally looked a little flat, but they mostly came across as rather vivid and vibrant. Even the red lighting seen at times was tight and concise. Black levels appeared dense and dark, while, low-light shots looked appropriately opaque but not overly thick. MGM did a great job with the transfer of Valley Girl.

I also felt quite impressed with the remixed Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Valley Girl. The soundfield favored the movie’s many pop and rock songs, and it portrayed them with solid stereo separation. Effects also created a pretty good sense of general ambience, and the elements meshed together well. Surrounds contributed some ambient material but mostly reinforced the forward spectrum. The scope of the mix remained modest but it worked fine for this material.

Audio quality varied but generally seemed quite good. Speech occasionally betrayed a little edginess, but the lines mostly sounded natural and distinct. Effects appeared clean and accurate. They played a fairly small role in the proceedings, but they created no concerns. Music sounded really good, as the many songs presented good range and clarity. Bass response seemed tight and warm. Overall, the audio of Valley Girl didn’t blow me away, but it appeared positive.

The DVD release of Valley Girl comes with a good roster of extras, most of which appear on Side One. We open with an audio commentary from director Martha Coolidge, who offers a running, screen-specific discussion. She proves chatty and informative during this pretty terrific track. Coolidge speaks quickly much of the time as she goes into many facets of the production. We learn about all the challenges caused by the flick’s extremely low budget, casting and other topics related to the actors, the script and alterations made to it, sets, locations, the music, and much else. Coolidge pauses for air a few times, but she plows through this sucker like she’s getting paid by the word. That’s fine with me, since most of those words seem interesting. Despite my lack of enthusiasm for Valley Girl, I really like this track.

Next we get a video commentary that features snippets from Coolidge, actors Heidi Holicker, Nicolas Cage, Michael Bowen, Elizabeth Daily, Cameron Dye, Colleen Camp, Lee Purcell, and Frederic Forrest, singer Josie Cotton, and former KROQ DJ Richard Blade. During this track, little video inset images of the various speakers pop up occasionally. Very occasionally, unfortunately, as much of the movie passes without any information. When they do appear, the quality of the material varies. Cage offers some decent notes about his acting, and a few other mildly intriguing tidbits materialize, but nothing terribly fascinating is on display. Given the mediocre quality of the remarks and the sparse rate at which they appear, I can’t say I cared much for the video commentary.

We can also watch the movie with an Eighties Nostalgia and Trivia Track. This provides little factoids periodically throughout the movie. These tell us tidbits about the cast and the film as well as factual notes. Most of the latter relate to events of 1983. Some good material shows up at times, such as information about a proposed sequel. Unfortunately, the snippets appear rather infrequently, so this is a tedious watch on its own. Check it out as you take in the movie. Normally I don’t like to do that because the text is a distraction, but these pieces come up rarely enough that they shouldn’t cause a problem.

After this we get three new featurettes. Valley Girl: 20 Totally Tubular Years Later gives us a nice general look at the production. The 24-minute and 13-second program mixes movie clips and new interviews with Coolidge, writer/producers Andrew Lane and Wayne Crawford, and actors Nicolas Cage, Elizabeth Daily, Cameron Dye, Heidi Holicker, Michael Bowen, Colleen Camp, Frederic Forrest, and Lee Purcell. They cover the origins of the project, how Coolidge and the actors got their jobs, and production notes. Some of the material came up earlier, but most of it offers a new perspective. Too many film clips show up throughout this thing, but overall this is a reasonably informative and lively program.

We get exactly what the title implies during In Conversation: Nicolas Cage and Martha Coolidge. The 19-minute and 58-second piece shows Cage and Coolidge as they chat together about the movie. They reminisce about the shoot and also get into their thoughts in general about acting and filmmaking. At one point, Cage even gives Coolidge credit for her substantial influence on his work. I partially expected this piece to just be 20 minutes of mutual butt-kissing, and some of that appears. However, the program presents a great deal of insight and depth and seems very enjoyable.

For the final featurette, we learn about The Music of Valley Girl. In the 15-minute and 55-second piece, we hear from Coolidge, former KROQ DJ Richard Blade, Plimsouls member Peter Case, actors Cameron Dye, Elizabeth Daily, Colleen Camp, Heidi Holicker and Nicolas Cage, Robbie Grey of Modern English, and singer Josie Cotton. We find out about the nature of the soundtrack and the material as well as information about the LA music scene in the early Eighties and the careers of some participants. It’s a tight little show that covers a lot of good information.

The DVD presents two music videos. Modern English play “I Melt With You” in a fairly average lip-synch performance clip. The Plimsouls’ “A Million Miles Away” seems a little more ambitious. It melds lip-synch footage with some vague storyline about a guy and some babe. Like most early videos, it makes virtually no sense. Nonetheless, both clips are fun to see for archival reasons.

Side One ends with a collection of Storyboard-to-Film Comparisons. We get clips for three scenes: “Opening At the Mall” (25 seconds), “The Beach” (39 seconds) and “The Party” (eight minutes, 10 seconds). The presentation seems simple but effective.

Side Two repeats the audio commentary and trivia track to accompany the fullscreen rendition of the flick and adds trailers. We find the clip for Valley Girl plus “Other Great MGM Releases”. That includes The Sure Thing, Legally Blonde and generic promos for “MGM Means Great Movies” and “Best of the Eighties”.

Though it’s earned a place as a cult classic, I must admit I don’t much get the appeal of Valley Girl. It offers some shambling charm but it mostly seems awkward and amateurish, and it doesn’t really have anything fresh to give us. However, the DVD provides surprisingly positive picture and audio plus a nice set of supplements that belies the film’s semi-obscurity and the disc’s low price. I can’t recommend a “blind buy” to anyone who’s not seen the film, but those who dig it should be absolutely delighted with this very solid DVD.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.421 Stars Number of Votes: 38
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