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.