The proliferation of synthesised music gave the 1980s its sound, and neon colours captured on fuzzy V.H.S. cassettes gave the decade its look. The universal rise of home video means that blockbusters of the time are still watched, and religiously quoted decades after their initial release. It is no wonder that those ten years are still looked back more than fondly. In 2020, a classic film of the decade got a nostalgic redo in the jukebox musical reimagining of Valley Girl.
After suffering a stressful breakup, Ruby storms home to her mother Julie. The similarity of her predicament causes Julie to start reminiscing about her childhood in the 80s, where she lived a life of banal comfort in the opulent valleys, but at a house-party, she meets a punk rock heartthrob, Randy. The two quickly fall in love, but from the offset their relationship is rocky. It becomes a battle of the cultures as they try to make the relationship work. Can they fight destiny to end up where they both belong, even if it is not together?
With everything 80s still maintaining a stranglehold on popular culture, the remake wisely leans into the nostalgic touchstones of the decade, with cute reminders of technology, films, quotes, events are sprinkled throughout this love story mainly coming from Julie’s Parents (played well by Rob Huebel and Judy Greer). With their addition, I have a sneaking suspicion that this incarnation, while still designed to be enjoyed by all, is primarily aimed at youngsters who never saw the original. The inclusion of YouTuber and aspiring boxer Logan Paul as rich jock boyfriend Mickey at least reinforces this hypothesis. Though it is not all stunt casting, the inclusion of Mae Whitman as punk rocker Jack is a natural fit. Known for dying over and over in the Happy Death Day franchise, Jessica Rothe expands her repertoire with singing and, once again, makes a great leading lady. And it is easy to see why somebody would fall head over heels for Josh Whitehouse’s Randy.
With this rework comes a greater focus on the music, turning the original into a jukebox musical with 80s hits in great abundance. Though they are reworked slightly to allow our cast to belt out with the best of them and to fit the mood of the scene. The film is shrewd with its placing, a lot of the times songs show up exactly where you would expect, with other times ironically use the word of the song to counteract the situation. The assortment works well, particularly in one aerobic session that combines Madonna, Depeche Mode, and Soft Cell in a catchy collage.
Valley Girl lives and breathes nostalgia, specially curated for its younger viewers who may have had only a second-hand appreciation of the era but remains an entertaining crowd-pleaser for all ages. As an adaptation, Valley Girl succeeds in brings the characters to life and feels novel enough from the original to warrant a fresh watch. It remains a testament to the era that spawned its inspiration that after all these years, the anthems of the kids of America will ring out for many decades to come.
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