Friday, May 8, 2020

Movie with Abe: Valley Girl

Valley Girl
Directed by Rachel Lee Goldenberg
Released May 8, 2020

The way people behave and act is in many ways influenced by the environment in which they’re raised. Geographical location and economic situations can play very much into that, relating to the weather that dictates possible activities and the opportunities that are available and feasible during leisure time. Not everyone is a complete product of their surroundings, but there are some general types that are widely recognizable. One such persona is that of the valley girl, not necessarily unique to Southern California but identifiable by a manner of speaking and a tendency to come off as seeming rather airheaded and vain.

Reliving her glory days, Julie (Alicia Silverstone) sits her daughter (Camilla Morrone) down to tell her about the experiences she remembers during the 1980s. Teenage Julie (Jessica Rothe) loves shopping with her friends Karen (Chloe Bennet), Loryn (Ashleigh Murray), and Stacey (Jessie Ennis), and has the hottest boyfriend in school, Mickey (Logan Paul). Her carefully-manicured world is shaken when she meets Randy (Josh Whitehouse), a punk rocker from the Sunset Strip. Pulled in two different directions, Julie begins to explore the allure of a new adventure, much to the horror of all of her friends who can’t understand what she sees in Randy and everything he represents.

This is an update of the 1983 film of the same name, grounded in the present by the adult Julie trying to convey the spirit of the eighties to her daughter. It’s also a musical, which adds a whole new dimension to this story, conveying the thoughts and feelings of each of the characters in enthusiastically-crooned songs. Choreographer Mandy Moore, who worked on “La La Land,” stages magnificent dance numbers that make this experience very engaging and entertaining. The “Romeo and Juliet” origins of the story feel simultaneously relevant and appropriately dated, perfectly placed in this energetic film.

In addition to its great music, this film assembles a talented cast. Rothe is an engaging lead, and she’s well-supported by an ensemble that also includes Mae Whitman as one of Randy’s less-conforming friends and Judy Greer and Rob Huebel as Julie’s clueless parents. In a time where people can’t get together to obsess about prom or go to the mall, this film is a fun escape. While the experience of seeing it in a theater would be a welcome blast, the opportunity to stream it on digital or see it in a drive-in is also satisfactory.


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