Valley Girl (film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Martha Coolidge|
|Produced by||Wayne Crawford
|Written by||Wayne Crawford
|Music by||Richard Butler
|Editing by||Éva Gárdos|
|Distributed by||Atlantic Releasing|
|Release dates||April 29, 1983|
|Running time||99 minutes|
$600,000 (With music rights)
Valley Girl is a 1983 romantic comedy film, starring Nicolas Cage, Deborah Foreman, Michelle Meyrink, Elizabeth Daily, Cameron Dye, and Michael Bowen. The film, directed by Martha Coolidge, was the first film in which Nicolas Coppola was billed as Nicolas Cage.
Julie Richman (Deborah Foreman) is a Valley Girl who seems to have it all: good looks, popularity, and a handsome Valley dude boyfriend, Tommy (Michael Bowen). However, she has grown tired of Tommy's lack of respect and arrogance towards her. At the end of a shopping trip with her friends, Loryn (Elizabeth Daily), Stacey (Heidi Holicker), and Suzi (Michelle Meyrink), Julie runs into Tommy and breaks up with him, returning his I.D. bracelet. Later that day at the beach, Julie spies a handsome young man, and the two trade shy glances at each other.
That night, at the party at Suzi's house, Julie locks eyes with Randy (Nicolas Cage), a Hollywood punk who has crashed the party with his friend, Fred (Cameron Dye). They hit it off well, especially after Julie learns that Randy was the young man she had seen at the beach earlier, but a jealous Tommy, who had tried to bed Loryn earlier, and his cronies violently expel Randy and Fred. Randy eventually returns to Suzi's house, sneaks inside, and hides in the bathroom, waiting for Julie to cross his path. When she does, he convinces her to leave the party with him. Julie brings a very reluctant Stacey along for the ride with Randy and Fred out of the valley and into Hollywood. While at Randy's favorite nightclub, Julie and Randy find their attraction to each other growing and share a kiss, as Stacey continually rebuffs Fred's advances.
Julie's blossoming romance with Randy disgusts her friends, because Randy is a punk and not from the Valley. They threaten Julie with the loss of her popularity and their friendship if she continues to date Randy. Julie goes to her father (Frederic Forrest), an aging 1960s era hippie, for advice. Mr. Richman kindly tells her that she should follow her heart, reminding her that it is what is inside a person that counts. Despite her father's sage advice, Julie caves to peer pressure and reconciles, albeit awkwardly, with Tommy, who puts his I.D. bracelet back on her wrist. That evening, Julie tearfully dumps Randy when he goes to visit her. Randy, realizing that Julie has given in to her friends' wishes, curses at her and leaves. A heartbroken and drunk Randy later arrives at the nightclub, and ends up in the arms of his ex-girlfriend, Samantha (Tina Theberge). After a heated make-out session with Samantha, Randy feels even more miserable than before. He nearly gets into a fight with a gang of low riders before Fred saves him. Fred chides Randy for moping over Julie, but tells him that he needs to fight if he truly wants her back.
Over the next few days, Randy flits about the Valley, trying to be where his path would cross Julie's. She seems covertly glad to see him, but is quite shaken when she catches him sleeping on the front lawn outside her window. Fred devises a plan that he dubs "simplicity at its finest," one that will both reunite Randy with Julie and achieve the "grandest form of retribution" against Tommy. As the girls make prom decorations, Stacey and Loryn chat over their post-prom plans. Stacey tells Loryn that Tommy had made a reservation at the Valley Sheraton Hotel, unbeknownst to Julie.
The night of the Valley High junior prom, Tommy and Julie ride to the prom in a rented stretch limousine. Randy and Fred arrive shortly after and sneak backstage, watching the Valley High kids dancing to the music of Josie Cotton and the Party Crashers. Randy soon grows tired of just watching and demands to know if there is any more to Fred's plan, to which Fred says that there is nothing more, though the two vow to "crush that fly!" Julie and Tommy are now backstage, waiting to be introduced as king and queen of the prom. Randy confronts Tommy, and the two begin to brawl. When the prom king and queen are announced, the curtain pulls back to reveal Randy beating up Tommy. Randy knocks Tommy out, then escorts a thrilled Julie from the stage through the crowd. Tommy recovers and storms through the crowd towards Randy and Julie, who find themselves blocked in by the snack table. Tommy demands an explanation from Julie. She answers by smashing a platter of guacamole in his face. A food fight starts, from which Randy and Julie escape and take off in Tommy's rented limousine.
As the happy couple ride into the night to the Valley Sheraton, Julie removes Tommy's I.D. bracelet and throws it out the window. The scene, which echoes the final scene of the film The Graduate, pans to the overview of the Valley, while the limo turns past the Sherman Oaks Galleria glowing in the night as the Modern English song "I Melt With You" closes out the film.
A subplot involves Suzi and her stepmother, Beth (Lee Purcell), vying for the attention of Skip (David Ensor), the grocery delivery boy. At her party, Suzi tells Beth, who is chaperoning, about a boy that she likes and hopes likes her too. Beth soon notices a dark-haired boy to whom she finds herself attracted. The boy turns out to be Skip, the very boy that Suzi likes. Skip finds himself attracted to Beth and goes out of his way to go to see her without Suzi finding out; he even turns down an invite from Suzi to go to her house during an unsupervised slumber party because Beth is out on a date. One day, Skip enters Suzi's house, apparently looking for Beth. He goes upstairs and hears a shower running in Beth's bedroom. He finds that a woman is in the shower. Skip and this woman, whose face is not shown, are then shown making love. During this time, we see another woman coming home and going upstairs. The bedroom door opens, Beth enters, and only then it is shown that Suzi had been the woman in the shower and is now in bed with Skip. By the end of the film, Skip and Suzi go to the prom together.
- Nicolas Cage as Randy
- Deborah Foreman as Julie Richman
- Elizabeth Daily as Loryn
- Michael Bowen as Tommy
- Cameron Dye as Fred Bailey
- Heidi Holicker as Stacey
- Michelle Meyrink as Suzi Brent
- Tina Theberge as Samantha
- Lee Purcell as Beth Brent
- Richard Sanders as Driver's Ed Teacher
- Colleen Camp as Sarah Richman
- Frederic Forrest as Steve Richman
- David Ensor as Skip
- Tony Plana as Low Rider
- Joyce Heiser as Joyce
- Wayne Crawford as Lyle
- The Plimsouls as Themselves
- Peter Case as Himself
- Joanne Baron as Miss Lieberman, Prom Teacher
- Steven Bauer (uncredited) as Guy in pink shirt
Valley Girl was shot on a shoestring budget of $350,000.
Martha Coolidge, the director, received a token salary, most of the crew and some of the actors, were friends of Martha from film school, and worked for free. There were almost no retakes.
The executives gave them only a small artistic budget, which included wardrobe. The cast and crew put all their own clothes on a table, and that became the wardrobe. The gowns and suits at the prom were promotions.
The actors went to high schools in the valley to learn or reacquaint themselves with Valleyspeak. One of the early scenes used dialog that was 100% dialect, but after that, dialect was used only sparingly, for the sake of clarity.
The executives regarded the project as an exploitative teenage film and required that there be 4 scenes containing bare breasts. At the first screening they were pleasantly surprised and said "My God, this is a real movie!"
Julie's mother, Colleen Camp, and father, Frederic Forrest, had worked together in Apocalypse Now and were glad to be working together again. Their scenes had ended up on the cutting room floor, but have since been used in Apocalypse Now Redux.
The teacher's King and Queen speech was delivered by Martha Coolidge's former acting instructor, Joanne Baron. She and Martha wrote it the night before.
Nick and Randy's escape from the prom was a deliberate reference to The Graduate as was an earlier scene where Beth, a mother, reprised the role of Mrs. Robinson, seducing young Skip. She also delivered the tagline, "Plastics."
Nick and Debbie found it difficult to do the breakup scene at Julie's front door, because it was shot late in the filming, when Nick and Debbie were dating. It took a lot of takes and some counseling by Martha Coolidge. She told Debbie to think of another guy she had broken up with.
Valley Girl was a financial success. The film was released on April 29, 1983 and opened in 442 theaters. In the opening weekend, it grossed $1,856,780 (10.7%) at #4, behind Flashdance's third weekend, Something Wicked This Way Comes, and Tootsie's twentieth weekend. The final domestic grossing stood at $17,343,596 – more than 2000% of its budget.
The film garnered mostly positive reviews; review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes currently reviews an 83% 'Fresh' rating, noting "With engaging performances from its two leads, Valley Girl is a goofy yet amiable film that both subverts and celebrates the cheerful superficiality of teen comedies."
The soundtrack features a host of new wave recording artists including the Plimsouls and Josie Cotton, both of whom appeared in the film. Songs by Bonnie Hayes, Modern English, and the Payolas were also featured prominently.
Many of the songs were minor chart hits in 1982–83. Josie Cotton's "Johnny, Are You Queer?" was a regional hit in Southern California in 1981, placing #5 on KROQ-FM's Top 106 songs of the year and "He Could Be the One" from her album Convertible Music had reached #74 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1982. The song heard over the opening credits is "Girls Like Me" from Bonnie Hayes' 1982 album Good Clean Fun, which "bubbled under" the Billboard 200 album chart at #206. The Plimsouls' "A Million Miles Away" and the Payolas' "Eyes of a Stranger" were moderate hits in 1982, reaching #11 and #22, respectively, on Billboard's Top Tracks chart. "I Melt with You" by Modern English reached #78 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1983.
The song "I Melt with You" occurred twice in the movie. Besides the ending credits it was used in the love montage. The director, Martha Coolidge, heard it on the radio and decided it caught the spirit of the movie. She had to call up the station and sing it to them to find out what it was called, because they didn't announce what songs were after they were played.
The end credits show songs by the Clash, Culture Club, Bananarama, and the Jam, however, those songs are not heard in the film. After the film was completed, problems arose in acquiring the music rights and substitute songs had to be dubbed in. Altogether, the music rights cost $250,000 on top of the film's original $350,000 budget.
The planned release of a soundtrack album on Epic Records was cancelled due to the clearance problems with some of the songs. Instead, a different six-song mini-album was manufactured by Roadshow Records, a one-off subsidiary of Atlantic Releasing. The album was never commercially released, but a few copies leaked out and became highly valued collector's items. More common is a counterfeit copy which is distinguished by the misspelling of the title as "Valley Girls" on the spine of the album cover.
In 1994, Rhino Records released a compilation of songs from the film's soundtrack on compact disc which peaked at #155 on the Billboard 200. This was followed by a second volume titled More Music from the Valley Girl Soundtrack in 1995.
The film originally carried the song "Who Can It Be Now?" by Men at Work in the scene where Randy hides in the shower hoping Julie will come in, but in the Special Edition DVD release, the song "Shelley's Boyfriend" (Bonnie Hayes and the Wild Combo) carries over into the next scene.
Valley Girl is available on DVD. The Special Edition DVD contains many extras, including the option of a running commentary by the director, Martha Coolidge, and interviews with many of the cast and crew, including Cage, Bowen, Holicker, Case, and Daily. In the DVD documentary, Daily admits that she had no idea what Valley Girls were supposed to sound like and decided that Loryn would be from Malibu (and therefore not a true Valley Girl) in order to cover this up; she later provided the singing voice of Two and a Half Men's Jake Harper who splits his time between his parents' homes in Malibu and the Valley.
The film has yet to be released on Blu-ray.
In 2009, MGM was working on a musical remake of the film with Jason Moore directing. In February 2012, MGM and Paramount Pictures announced that the remake will be directed by Clay Weiner rather than Jason Moore. The musical numbers will all be 1980s New Wave-era music from artist such as The Cars and The Go-Go's. The screenplay was written by Amy Talkington with rewrites by Jenny Lumet.
- "Variety: Digital Editions". Variety.com. Retrieved 2009-06-03.
- "Making of Valley Girl – Behind the Scenes". fast-rewind.com. Retrieved 2009-06-25.
- Running Audio Commentary by Martha Coolidge, on the DVD
- Valley Girl at Rotten Tomatoes
- Director's running commentary on the film in the DVD
- Occhiogrosso, Peter. "Reelin' and Rockin'" American Film April 1984: 48
- American Film September 1984: 6
- Osborne, Jerry. "Valley Girl Music Battle Was Awesome" Chicago Sun-Times December 2, 1990
- Barker, Lisa. "Valley Girl: A Totally Bitchin' Soundtrack That's Worth Like A Lot" Goldmine November 27, 1992: 66
- Fernandez, Jay A. "'Valley Girl' redux set". Hollywoodreporter.com. Retrieved 2009-06-03.[dead link]
- Fleming, M. "Paramount-MGM ‘Valley Girl’ Musical Redo To Be Helmed By Clay Weiner. Who?" Deadline.com (February 16, 2012).
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- Valley Girl at the Internet Movie Database
- Valley Girl at allmovie
- Valley Girl at Box Office Mojo
- Valley Girl at Rotten Tomatoes