by Jessie VHJess Landivar-Prescott
“Don’t be afraid.” -Randy
“He’s just like totally tripendicular.” -Julie
The first and foremost thing you must know about Valley Girl is that this movie is 100% swoon worthy. It’s an early 1980’s dolly dream of pretty pink happy and dark electric punk holding hands. So much swooning.
Why so much swooning?
Well, here are about 10 different reasons I can think of off the top of my head, in no particular order:
1. The sincere look in Nicolas Cage’s eyes.
2. Deborah Foreman’s laugh.
3. The music. “Love My Way” by Psychedelic Furs, “Eyes of a Stranger” by The Payola$, “Girls Like Me” by Bonnie Hayes & all of The Plimsouls songs.
4. THE COSTUMES. ALL OF THEM.
5. The locations- Hollywood, L.A., malls, clubs in the early 80’s.
6. The contrast between Julie’s “Valley Girl Speak” and all of the non-VGS.
7. The first club scene when the dialogue between Julie and Randy drops out, the music takes over and we see their brief conversation turn into their silhouettes kissing.
8. The montages.
9. The production design - Valley pink daylight and Hollywood black nighttime.
10. All of the conversations that Julie and Randy have with each other that we can’t hear at all.
I mean, this list could totally keep going. Nicolas Cage’s voice in this movie would be number 11. The laugh out loud, inane jokes that quietly run throughout the entire movie would be 12. You get the point.
Valley Girl is one of the rare movies that takes you by the hand and tells you that it is totally okay to just enjoy being with it, that its okay to like a movie, to enjoy your dreamy feelings and that high-brow vs. low-brow doesn’t matter, for sure. Only Julie + Randy matter.
Thank goodness for director Martha Coolidge and her good sense to keep the kids in this movie acting their age. There isn’t BS adult dialogue between these teenagers. Their behavior actually matches their ages. Shocker, I know. And with all due reverence to the master of 80s teen movies, John Hughes, VG’s story has its Romeo and Juliet allusions, its conflicts between differing teenage tribes but it doesn’t drown itself in these. I mean, take for example the scene at the Valley Galleria. Julie and Randy are sharing a piece of pie, and are sarcastically laughing at each other over the romance of this “moment” while Tommy (Julie’s ex-bf & VG’s “such a total pukeoid” villain) catches a glimpse of them and drops his jaw in horror - this scene tells you exactly why R+J just can’t be together, warns that the Valley kids won’t allow it to continue and tells you not to take it all too seriously either. You’re told all of this in a brief scene within a perfectly edited music and action sequence. No dialogue at all!
VG is your best friend at the slumber party. The outfit and makeup choice you decide on for the big-deal-to-your-teenage-self party you’re going to. The strip of photos taken inside of an actual photobooth and the giddy anxiety you felt stepping into it. VG reminds you of being a child in L.A., the smell of the air, the reflections of light on a car’s windshield, the look of the pavement beneath your steps. VG makes you grin before you swoon…and it makes sure to keep the grin on your face for the duration of the movie. Well, except for a few scenes when it lets you go be with Randy in painful exile. But because it’s VG, that exile is just as emotionally blindsiding as it needs to be and not any more.
VG is the movie that makes me fall in love with falling in love with life, again and again. If we want to go all meta on this, VG knows how important it is to remember the past by reliving it in the present without cheapening nostalgia at all. I think it’s that movie for loads of people out there. VG does what any “Hey, Rewind That!” movie should do for its audience. It takes you outside of yourself where you linger in its absence with all of your feelings for a long time after the end credits roll. It does that for me. What a gift it is to be gone into that magical space! And it doesn’t demand anything in return. All I need to do is sit and watch and listen.