Friday, February 27, 2009

Valley Girl (Martha Coolidge, 1983)

There are two distinct chapters in my life: The period of time before Valley Girl (a.k.a. Valley Girl - Das Mädchen und der heiße Typ), an appalling netherworld where magenta is nonexistent and everything for as far as the eye can see is covered in a suffocating layer of beige, and the one that existed after Valley Girl, a gleaming, effervescent place in which your average leg warmer isn't just a wooly thing that covers your legs, but a full-bodied cornucopia of bold colours and unique possibilities teeming with nuance and guile; a place where idiosyncratic social groups can commingle with one another to eat complicated sushi without fearing an unexpected kick to the crotch. Now, I don't think I have to tell you which realm I prefer living in, but just in case... Seriously though, I can't believe there was an actually increment of time where Martha Coolidge's seemingly accidental ode to passion and nothingness was not a part of my stunning existence. It baffles me to think that I once lived without knowing about the power of Randy and Julie's love for one another. A love that crosses so many boundaries, that it boggles the mind. I mean, he's a new wave punk from Hollywood and she's new wave preppy from the Valley. I'm no expert on L.A. geography, or alternative subcultures during the early 1980s, but that's got to be one of the most unorthodox pairings in the history of heterosexual dating.

Confounding shapely linguists and unhinged anthropologists since its righteous inception, Valley Girl represents a time and a place in the annals of human history that will never be duplicated. Which is why I treat each screening of the film as a sacred ritual. Sure, the clothes I wear as I watch the film may be the gothiest of jet blacks. But believe you me, and that creepy naked guy inhaling his own genitalia in the corner, my clothing is extremely pastel on the inside.

Ironically, it's colours and clothing that get the characters into so much trouble in this film. You see, when Randy and Julie first lay eyes on one another, they're at the beach and stripped of their tribal uniforms. However, when they meet again at a totally rad Val party, they're sheathed in their respective colours: Hers are light-coloured (lot's of whites, pinks, and soothing blues), while his are industrial (lot's of red and black, or, in much simpler terms, a Mussolini Headkick album cover come to life).

Anyway, this party scene is the nitty-gritty of Valley Girl, as we spend a good chunk of time there. In fact, every nugget of plot is launched at this swanky shindig: Fred's relationship with Stacey, the mother-daughter competition over a guy named Skip, Tommy's manipulation of Loryn, and, of course, Randy and Julie's first up close flirtation.

The way Randy and Fred standout at this Val party, and the way Julie and Stacey standout when the two aforementioned guys take them to a club in Hollywood, is the film's most compelling aspect. In that, everyone can relate to being dragged somewhere and end up feeling like an alien.

This so-called cultural exchange feels natural because the talents of Nicolas Cage and Deborah Foreman as the film's signature couple. I found their looks of longing and desire to be genuine and the heat they generate during their stare downs to "Eyes of a Stranger" by The Payolas and "A Million Miles Away" by The Plimsouls is stuff of teen movie legend.

The switch over sequence, however, is sent into stratosphere in terms of honest-to-goodness whimsicality thanks to the brilliant acting of Heidi Holicker and Cameron Dye as Fred and Stacey. Heidi in particular, whose constant whining is expertly realized through a series of sincere complainants (the music was a tad on the loud side) mixed with obnoxious bellyaching (let Fred grope you, you prude).

On an aesthetic level, I loved Miss Holicker's thighs. They're prominently on display during the infamous sleepover sequence, and, to be perfectly honest, I wanted to Holicker them like you wouldn't believe.

The extended dating montage set to "I Melt With You" by Modern English is the pinnacle of extended dating montages. It's true, the song has lost some of its lustre over the years (it's been used to sell everything from cheeseburgers to low cost fallout shelters), but the moment the songs blasts on soundtrack never seems to fail in jazzing me for some forbidden romance Summing up the awe-inspiring splendour that is Valley Girl in just over three minutes, this montage pretty much shows the blossoming of Randy and Julie's love for one another in a tight little package.

Speaking of tight little packages, never has anyone looked cuter than Elizabeth Daily does when we see her dancing in nothing but pigtails and zebra print underwear.

The soundtrack is one of the greatest ever devised by humankind. The Flirts, Psychedelic Furs, The Plimsouls (the girl with the extra long bangs who is seen excessively dancing to them at the Hollywood club looks exactly like my most prominent high school crush), Felony, and Sparks, (the mother-daughter subplot involving the gorgeous Lee Purcell and Canadian cutie Michelle Meyrink features the most excellent "Eaten By the Monster of Love"), and Josie Cotton and her 1950s accented pop.

In closing, to say that life has been different since Valley Girl would definitely be an understatement. A rewarding cinematic experience like no other, the film changed the way I appreciate things. In other words, it has taught me how to love, like, totally. Ugh.



  1. I really want to thank you so much for this heartfelt review of one of my absolute favorite films. You are god!

  2. i loved this movie, for many reasons....i still listen to the plimsouls. my teen angst girlfriend was named stacy and i felt ol cage himself because of the same issue...I suppose i should just let it go but..

  3. "Shapely linguists," huh?
    Seriously, valley girl talk is an important linguistic research topic. And do you know what I learned from a recent documentary is that the male equivalent of valley girl is surfer dude. :)

  4. Cinema Du Meep: You're welcome. God, eh? Yikes. In the past, I've been called a saint and a perverted prophet, but I don't think anyone has ever gone the god route before.

    the Michigan scene: Those are some excellent reasons. A friend of mine had a teen angst girlfriend named Stacey.

    Karim Amir: Aren't most linguists shapely? Anyway, I can totally see linguists taking val speak seriously.

  5. This is an absolute masterwork of reviewing. You one-upped yourself.

    You keep writing and I'll keep reading.


  6. Thanks esteemed member of Soiled Sinema.

  7. I'm a big fan of this movie. My sister is an even bigger fan of it.

  8. Cool. I didn't expect there to be so many Valley Girl fans around here.

  9. Elizabeth Daily is just so cute! She rules!

  10. This movie has the prom that I wish I could have had.

  11. The dollop of blue dye in the middle of in Cameron Dye's hair is the stuff of legend.

    "Crush that fly!"

  12. Valley Girl is truly a bright colored piece of 80's teen heaven. Lost count of all the times I've watched it. Just the fact that Josie Cotton does her "Johnny Are You Queer" made me fall deeply in love with it. EG Daily is drop dead cute in it too. In fact so cute that I've still got a sad little crush on her.

    (Btw have you seen One Dark Night aka Mausoleum from 1983 also starring Daily? It's a lotta fun and actually pretty spooky)

    I just discovered your insanely amazing blog and it gave me instant fits of unadulterated joy.

    Thanks / Mathias from Sweden

    -Cool is this movie in 3D?
    -No but your face is!
    (one of the best quotes ever)

  13. There's no such thing as a "sad" crush on E.G. Daily. All E.G. crushes are happy ones. ;)

    No, I haven't seen One Dark Night. But I'll definitely add it to my "to-see list."

    "Fits of unadulterated joy" Wow, thanks. :)

    "Hi, I'm Fred. I like tacos and '71 Cabernet. My favorite color is magenta." ~ Valley Girl

  14. I'm wrecked. So earnest a tribute combined with such ironic glee, I canno' help but look for the Elizabeth Daily tee I never owned. A lot of people don't realize that none other than Burt Reynolds was considered for Nic's role. Only the most tried & true VG fan will recognize just what scene he is doing here (what I call 'Bandit reads Randy'):

    1. Thanks. This review is old. But everything I said still holds true.

      Oh, and Burt Reynolds as Randy is ridiculous. :D