I was raised on the mean streets of Charlotte, North Carolina. Yes, that’s meant to be a joke, since I was raised in the suburbs primarily. My Aunt Donna on my father’s side was working in California (San Diego) most of my life, and that’s where she lives to this day. I would always wonder what life in California was like and how my aunt did it. Like most non-California residents in that time period (80’s), I dreamed that everybody was from the Valley and talked about being “So Sure”. Fast forward 35 years later ,and we have a collector’s edition of the movie simply known as Valley Girl. Let us take a look.
As we open the movie, we listen to a radio station playing in Hollywood, CA. They are promoting tickets to the next concert, and it’s 75 degrees. The voice changes and the scene shifts. It’s 83 degrees in the valley. “Girls Like Me” by Bonnie Hayes plays on the radio, and we see a bunch of girls try on clothes and use their Mastercard quite liberally.
Julie (played by Elizabeth Foreman), Loryn (played by EG Daily), Stacey (played by Heidi Holicker), and Suzi (played by Michelle Meyrink) after some long, hard shopping, decide to get a drink at the food court. They talk about a boy named Brad and then shift the discussion to Tommy (played by Michael Bowen), who is Julie’s boyfriend.
After discussion, Julie really wants something or somebody new. She then coincidentally sees Tommy on the escalator and dumps him right then and there. The next day the girls have gone to the beach to look and fawn over more hot men. They also talk about an upcoming party that it is going to be chaperoned by Suzi’s mom. However, they are overheard by a boy from Hollywood named Fred (played by Cameron Dye), who decides that he needs to crash.
Meanwhile, the girls spot heartthrob Randy (played by Nicolas Cage) and start to obsess about him instead. In particular, Julie takes a vested interest in the Hollywood teenager and probably has a lot of dirty thoughts. We soon see that Fred is best friends with Randy and tells him about the party he just overheard. Randy really does not want to go the valley but reluctantly goes along with it.
Later on at the party, Julie does her best to try and talk to Brad (played by Tony Markes), but he’s more interested in everybody else and ignores her. Behind her, there is a lot of kissing, dancing, and drinking going on between the rest of the participants. Suzi makes friendly with a boy named Skip (played by David Ensor), even though her mom is giving the boy a much more lustful eye.
Tommy takes a moment to hit on Loryn, and then the two decide to step into another room. Fred and Randy arrive on the scene and cause quite a ruckus due to their attire. Randy spots Julie, and as soon as they make eye contact, we know they are love at first sight. He goes over to talk to her, and they chat for a while. However, Tommy has come downstairs after that situation with Loryn and decides he doesn’t like Randy and his friend.
Well, this leads to a big ol’ fight between Tommy and Randy. Randy and Fred get thrown out of the party and drive down the road. Randy is very upset and doesn’t like that some Valley guy told him to leave a party that he did not want to leave. Fresh off the puppy-dog feelings of Julie, he tells Fred to stop the car and let him drive. Randy drives back and soon finds a way to get himself back into the party and Julie’s heart.
I had never seen Valley Girl until I reviewed this Blu-ray. It was released in the early 80’s around the same time as Fast Times at Ridgemont High or Big Chill, and honestly I gravitated towards those movies. It was also missed on my part more than likely because it had some T&A, and, well, I was only eight years old. (Though I saw Exorcist before I was 10 years old, so go figure that one.)
With that said, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I like this film. The Romeo and Juliet relationship between Randy and Julie is powerful and full of life. I recognize so many elements of later films that I enjoy that certainly took cues from Valley Girl. Nicolas Cage also steals the whole darn show. His mannerisms, his depth of character, his comfortableness in his first starring role all would propel him to stardom. He is the very definition of an enigma in front of the camera from the very first take.
Unfortunately there are stretches where he is not in the movie. I hate to say it, but the movie certainly drags at that point. Not to a halt or anything like that, but it loses a step. I also selfishly wanted more tidbits from Hollywood, but yes I know, it’s Valley Girl. The only other issue I had with the film was that things got a bit too tidy at the end of the film. I felt there were unresolved angles (not anything between Randy and Julie, but other relationships) that never came to fruition. Excellent movie albeit with a few tiny flaws.
The film is shown in a 1.85:1 widescreen picture. This is sourced from a brand new 4K master, and it looks fantastic. The color not only shows up in all of the outfits that the girls wear throughout the film but also in the dark Hollywood scenes when it comes to the clubs and all of the neon on display. Speaking of dark, never did I experience any sort of crush or films where it was difficult to tell what was going on.
Grain feels authentic and rich but never overpowering. There was some really good work here in the restoration, and it shows through each and every scene. Honestly (and it was probably due to age of the print), there were only one, maybe two instances where I felt that the video was lacking.
The audio tracks are a DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio and 2.0 stereo track in English. The English subtitles are also provided. The dialog is strong, and I had no problem picking out any piece of valley chatter that is sprinkled through this movie. Despite this being a 5.1 Track, this film will understandably sit in the front speakers quite a bit (which makes sense given its mono beginnings). However, I never found it to be disconcerting or plague the movie in any fashion.
The music I also found to be very entertaining. A lot of people will discuss the complicated music rights that this movie has. Music was pulled, reinserted, and dubbed over as needed in various versions of this film. Shout Factory was able to get the Men at Work song, “Who Can it Be Now?” reinserted into the film, and this is probably the most complete it is going to be. Just think, this film never really had a full released soundtrack until many years later. In fact, the original vinyl was a mere six songs and is a highly sought-after collectible item.
Audio Commentary with Director Martha Coolidge: Martha starts us off with an excellent commentary with hardly any dead space. She lets us know many tidbits that include that the film had a budget of only $350,000. Also, Nicolas Cage’s picture was actually on the reject pile until Martha requested more guys who look like Nicolas Cage only to in fact get the actor himself. She also talks about how “I Melt with You” wasn’t even a real hit musically until it was included in the film. My favorite bit, the film executives really saw this originally as a typical 80’s exploitation movie until they screened it and actually saw it for the real film it was. Great listen.
New:Valley Girl in Conversation – Featuring Director Martha Coolidge and Actresses EG Dailey and Heidi Holicker 50:11 : Brand new for this Blu-ray, this has Martha along with the girls who played Loryn and Stacey. They talk about all sorts of topics including breasts (did that get your attention?), sets, shooting, and the music behind the movie. Very candid, very open. Interesting tidbit, Quentin Tarantino is a big fan of the movie, apparently.
New:“Greetings from the Valley” – A History of the San Fernando Valley with Tommy Gelinas 19:14 : The featurette opens with 2003 footage of Nicolas Cage in a green snakeskin jacket with tinted green glasses as he describes the differences between Hollywood and the Valley. He proclaims that the Valley has no history like Hollywood does. We cut straight to Tommy Gelinas (the new part), who is the curator of the Valley Relics Museum and tells us that indeed the Valley has a ton of history. He goes into various locations including the DuPar’s Restaurant that is shown in the film.
New:Show & Tell with Heidi Holicker 4:47 : Heidi along with a little assistance from Martha show off some of her memorabilia from the movie that she has kept over the years. The most interesting piece is a letter she received, and I won’t spoil that any further, but it was really sweet.
New:Storyboard to Film Comparison 11:30 : This starts off with some footage from 2003 where Martha talks about storyboarding. She also shows off her book that’s chock full of sketches and production notes. Really fantastic piece; that’s the kind of thing that should be in a film museum somewhere. The next part of the featurette shows the movie and the storyboards on top of each other so we can compare and contrast.
In Conversation with Martha Coolidge & Nicolas Cage 20:00 : The two share a room so to speak and talk back and forth about the movie. Good interaction between the star and the director.
20 Totally Tubular Years Later 24:15 : From the 2003 DVD, this was the original behind the scenes featurette with Martha and the writers such as Andrew Lane. A good overall featurette if you don’t have the time to watch the other much longer pieces.
The Music of Valley Girl 15:57 : Martha talks about the music to the movie. Then we get one of my favorite individuals in the world, Richard Blade. Richard Blade, for those who don’t know, is the DJ we hear in the movie. In real life, he really is a DJ, primarily for new wave music as he currently does the honors for my favorite Sirius XM Station, 1st Wave (Channel 33). He also knows a ridiculous amount of history about this time period of music. We also get some tidbits from Peter Case of the Plimsouls.
The Girls 47:51 : 2003, our favorite trio of girls, EG Daily, Heidi Holicker, and Martha Coolidge talk about the movie and the many wonderful things about it.
The Boys 54:09 : This one focuses on the boys, in particular Cameron Dye, Nicolas Cage, and Michael Bowen. Nicolas, please never stop being you. That jacket is amazing.
The Parents 42:59 : Next to give their experiences and feelings towards the movie, we get Lee Purcell who plays Suzi’s mom, Beth, along with Colleen Camp and Frederic Forrest, who play Julie’s parents, Steve and Sarah.
The Bands 54:11 : More freaking Richard Blade. Seriously, I could listen to this guy for hours. Actually I would if my wife and son didn’t tell me to change the channel. More with Peter Case as well as Josie Cotton to enlighten us for about a hour on early 80’s music.
The Producers & Writers 14:17 : Wayne Crawford & Andrew Lane round out the detailed featurettes and give us some final tidbits to enjoy.
Music Videos 8:13 : “I Melt with You” by Modern English & “A Million Miles Away” by the Plimsouls. The Modern English video has some sync issues it appears but anybody who has made it this far probably won’t mind too much.
Original Theatrical Trailer 2:27 : Finally, we have the original trailer. I’m still not sure how I missed this movie in all of my many movies I have watched.
More Notes: This edition does feature a reversible cover. The reverse cover is the original poster art.
Valley Girl was never meant to be a #1 movie. As previously mentioned, it only was made for $350,000 (and maybe another $250,000 in various music rights). However, it did extremely well and made just short of $18 million dollars during its run. The brilliant comedy along with the up and coming Nicolas Cage really caught on and has lasted as a favorite Romeo-and-Juliet-type comedy among fans worldwide.
The video is first class, and the audio is about as good as it is going to get. The special features from the 2003 DVD were already numerous, and then Shout Factory outdid themselves by inserting a few new ones. The result is staggering and possibly the most special features I have ever seen on a single disc Blu-ray. All in all, out of the three reviews I’ve done over the past couple of weeks (all Shout Select releases), this is the best package by far. Heavily recommended and a shining example of what a quality Blu-ray package on a classic film should be. Enjoy.