Valley Girl

 

            OK, true confessions.  I was never into the whole “Valley Girl” thing.  Never got into 80's music that much, either.  And sometimes I'm never quite sure when a supposed tribute is actually a farce.  But maybe none of that matters with the new movie called “Valley Girl,” which is definitely an homage to a more innocent age.

            Julie (Jessica Rothe) is a high school senior in The Valley, who hangs out with her three best friends, romping through the mall, trying on clothes, dancing together, and trying not to sound as vapid as they look.  The big prom is coming up, and Julie's boyfriend, the big tennis star, invites her by writing out his invitation on the butts of the other guys on the tennis team.  She tries not to be too flattered by the originality.

            Julie suspects that her popular boyfriend might be empty-headed, which is why she so easily falls for an opposite kind of guy, Randy (Josh Whitehouse).  Randy is already out of school, and living in a small apartment in downtown, where he sings for a punk band, and drives an old convertible.  Randy is edgy.  His hair is always dishevelled, his clothes are unconventional, he sports tattoos, and his energetic flair mesmerizes her.  She finds herself compelled by the idea of “walking on the wild side” a bit, even if her very conventional parents don't approve, and for that matter, neither do her friends, who turn out not to be as loyal as she assumed they would be.

            All this is told in retrospect, as a middle-aged Mom is reminiscing about being Julie to her own teenage daughter, who has shown signs of wanting to blaze her own trail, as well.  She thinks that maybe her dismissive daughter might look on her in a little different light after she tells the tale of the Julie who's more adventurous than she looks.

            And since it's a musical, the characters are likely to break out into song at any time, sometimes to a rousing rock accompaniment, and sometimes just quietly a capello.  Some of the songs are classics----Queen's “Under Pressure” and Madonna's “Girls Just Want To Have Fun”---and others are well, kind of stuck in the 80's.  But it's all in good, clean, fun, which in itself is something to be commended in today's movies. 

            If you're interested in a nostalgic tour through some 80's music, or just want to view some lighthearted cinema, “Valley Girl” commends itself, even though the actors are way past high school age.  So are we.

 

Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, DFW Film Critics Association