VALLEY GIRL – Revisited
by Michael Chasin
As orange-haired Randy drives terrified valley girl Julie along seamy and bustling Hollywood Boulevard he calmly advises, when they attack the car, save the radio.
That was the fun of 1983’s Valley Girl—a film that did not take itself too seriously—yet earned $17M domestically—against a mere $350K budget.
That was a serious return on investment.
Valley Girl is the love story of conforming and peer-influenced Julie (Deborah Foreman) and Hollywood Hills High rebel Randy (Nicolas Cage in his starring debut).
The film liberally borrows—or pays homage to—Romeo & Juliet (in story, character name, and even a movie marquee), 1967’s The Graduate (a Mrs. Robinson character who refers to herself as such), and a Carrie-inspired ending (the 1976 Carrie, of course).
Valley Girl was to be not much more than a low-budget exploitation film of the valley girl phenomenon of the time.
(Today it would be labeled zeitgeist—a spirit-of-the-times film).
While certainly not a classic—or maybe not even a cult classic—after thirty-plus years, it still stands up well (albeit with a few scenes that get tedious).
It was solid, fundamental storytelling.
There were different worlds—the furr surrre valley and new wave Hollywood—with Julie and Randy—fishes out of water in each other’s worlds.
So it was zeitgeist—combined with a classic story—aided by a cool, new wave soundtrack—that yielded success.
The lesson for filmmakers—your burning-man dude falling for a shy mathlete—just might work.