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‘Valley Girl’ (2020, review)

Produced by Matt Smith, Steven J. Wolfe
Screenplay by Amy Talkington
Story by Wayne Crawford, Andrew Lane
Based on Valley Girl by
Wayne Crawford, Andrew Lane

Directed by Rachel Lee Goldenberg
Starring by Jessica Rothe, Josh Whitehouse,
Mae Whitman, Judy Greer, Jessie Ennis,
Chloe Bennet, Logan Paul, Alicia Silverstone

 

Back in December when face masks were only for bank robbers and bar hopping wasn’t a distant memory, Universal released the movie Cats, much to the delight of dogs everywhere.

Cats was a both a horrendous mistake that forever marred the film industry and the best thing to ever happen to stoners.

It became a phenomena in its awfulness that was talked about in bars, parties, and offices worldwide.

And then came the musical remake of Valley Girl, a charmless redo of an ‘80s class that lacks even basic likability. It’s try-hard attempt to cash in on ‘80s appeal makes Cats seem endearing.

Like the original, the story follows star-crossed lovers Randy (Josh Whitehouse) and Julie (Jessica Rothe), but its real focus are the dozens of ‘80s pop songs shoehorned into the script. It was once said by wiser critics that the key to a good musical is to use catchy tunes to help advance the plot, the character, and/or the scene. This low-effort Glee attempts uses music without rhyme and reason, covering song after song in the same mediocre Kidz Bop manner. For this reason, this Valley Girl is not as much a movie as it is a two-hour ad for Spotify.

The story follows an older Julie (Alicia Silverstone and her David Bowie shirt) as she tries to console her broken-hearted daughter with the meet-cute story of her first love Randi and life in the ‘80s. Their tale was as old as time, as her parents and friends did little to support her and she was forced to choose between Randi and…whatever. Squeeze in dozens of non-essential jukebox songs from any ‘80s playlist, all the neon in the world, and several side ponytails, and you have 2020’s Valley Girl.

The original 1983 Valley Girl was a delightful romantic comedy that evolved beyond its Romeo & Juliet framing. It was a snapshot of Los Angeles in the ‘80s and took aim at the very real (though ridiculous) turf war that developed between the high school kids of the San Fernando Valley and Hollywood. The music, the Los Angeles locations, the overall look, and the Peter Pan collars were dead on because it was true to the time. It had a honesty that translated into charm.

Furthermore, original stars Nicolas Cage and Deborah Foreman had a palpable chemistry with each other and the material. They embodied not just their roles, but the decade as a whole.

This Valley Girl is…not that.

Had this movie been a reboot or a sequel sent in the ‘90s or later, then perhaps the story would have worked.

Hell, if it were set in the ‘90s, Silverstone’s casting would have been perfect. But instead, this low-rent Valley Girl opted to remake rather than reboot, and in doing so, removed the heart, the soul, and the smarts from the original story. Rothe and Whitehouse are not playing characters, but stereotypes, thanks to a shoddy, half-hearted attempt to makeover the original source material.

The late, great Roger Ebert once described The Human Centipede as a movie that takes place in a world where the stars cease to shine. Well, this is actually a shared-universe in which 2020’s Valley Girl also exists. A universe with no charm or heart, and in which The Human Centipede is the better movie than 2020’s Valley Girl.

 

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