VALLEY GIRL (2020) doesn’t find the fun 80s vibe it was looking for

An 80s classic gets a jukebox musical adaptation that just bleeds ‘cheesy teen chick flick’. The gist of the story hasn’t changed; girl from the Valley meets a guy from downtown and they defy the opinions of their friends and family to be together. It’s not a musical you’ll remember, but it’s also not entirely forgettable.

Valley Girl presents its story by having an older version of Julie, played by Alicia Silverstone, recite the events we see unfold in the film to her daughter. The film opens with this and sprinkles a few of their scenes throughout. These scenes are a largely pointless addition that bring absolutely nothing of value to the story and feel jarring as they basically stop the flow of the narrative. It’s a low point to start the film on this, but once the main narrative picks up it’s a little more entertaining.

The story itself is fine. It all progresses at a pretty quick pace and keeps things moving along, which is good. Nothing in the story really comes as a surprise, whether you’ve seen the original 1983 film or not. It’s a pretty contrived and straightforward narrative that doesn’t really leave much room for surprises. That typically doesn’t hurt a film that much, if the performances are strong and it’s still entertaining, but here it makes the movie feel like nothing more than a cheap straight-to-DVD remake. The story does retain some elements of fun and the cheesiness does bring a couple of moments of comedy and light-heartedness, but overall it’s a pretty flat story. The moments that are clearly designed to tug on some heart-strings don’t have any strong impact and it gets a little repetitive at one point, making it feel like we’re just going in circles.

It’s hard to really get invested in the story and the characters’ journeys, but not at the fault of the performances. Some of the dialogue is cringe and the writing isn’t spectacular, but Jessica Rothe does a lot to bring some heart to the film. She’s the shining light from beginning to end and the only reason to keep watching. There’s this radiance around her performance that lights up almost every scene she’s in and actually makes it all somewhat enjoyable. Josh Whitehouse plays the lead alongside Jessica and he’s just okay. His performance is a little hit or miss to where at times it really feels like he is “acting” and perhaps just overdoing the punk aspect of his character.

The supporting cast includes the likes of Mae Whitman, Jessie Ennis, Chloe Bennet, Mario Revolori and Logan Paul among others, yet none of them make an impact. Mae Whitman is the best of the bunch, actually having a memorable presence in the film despite only appearing in a couple of scenes. The rest all just float in the background with minor impact on the story. We don’t talk about Logan Paul.

Being a musical, I was excited to see how the classic 80s soundtrack would enhance the film and really make it an absolute blast. Overall, the music is just fine. The song choice is fantastic across the board with a number of classics chosen to really send you back to the early 80s. However, the renditions of the songs that appear here are very average. The changes made to the flow of the songs isn’t great and even the singing from the actors is just okay. Being a musical, you really need the music to be the biggest and best thing about the film, however, this isn’t capitalised on and it lets the film down.

In the end, Valley Girl is quite disappointing as it was setting itself up with the potential to be great, but couldn’t deliver. It’s not a bad film, it just doesn’t land a strong enough narrative or great musical performances, but it does manage to bring some entertainment through Jessica Rothe’s performance and the overall cheesiness. If you’re looking for a stellar musical you’ll rewatch time and time again, this probably isn’t it, but for a night in with an okay 80s jukebox musical, this will do fine.

5.3/10

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