• Valley Girl (Shout! Factory) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Shout! Factory
    Released on: October 30th, 2018.
    Director: Martha Coolidge
    Cast: Deborah Foreman, Nicolas Cage, E.G. Daily, Michael Bowen
    Year: 1983
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    Valley Girl – Movie Review:

    Named after the song of the same name by Frank and Moon Unit Zappa, 1983’s Valley Girl, directed by Martha Coolidge, takes place in the Los Angeles Valley where Julie (Deborah Foreman of Waxwork and My Chauffeur), a ‘valley girl,’ seeks change. Yeah, she’s got all the latest clothes and is hip to all the trends but she needs something fresh – and she sets out to get this by breaking up with Tommy (Michael Bowen of Walking Tall and the remake of The Last House On The Left), her self-absorbed but uber popular boyfriend. Her friends - Loryn (Elizabeth Daily of One Dark Night and Bad Dreams), Stacey (Heidi Holicker), and Suzi Brent (Michelle Meyrink of Revenge Of The Nerds and The Outsiders) - are all up in arms about this… after all, Tommy is a hunk, but soon enough he doesn’t matter much to Julie because she meets Randy (Nicolas Cage of Wild At Heart and Vampire’s Kiss). He’s not one of them, he’s not one of the cool kids, he’s from the wrong side of the tracks – from Hollywood - but it’s clear that they’ve got the hots for one another.

    Soon enough, Randy and Julie are officially an item and those aforementioned friends just don’t get it. They question her choice and start to distance themselves from her. As this starts to eat away at her, Julie has to decide if she wants to tough it out with Randy or go back to acceptance and her clique by getting back together with Tommy.

    Valley Girl is a pretty fascinating time capsule. Completely throwing itself into the culture that the song that inspired the film was clearly parodying, it is nevertheless a fascinating look at a pop culture movement that once was (and is thankfully no more). The dialect, the fashions, the insane degree of materialism and superficiality – all of this is on full display in the film, and it is, until she meets Randy, Julie’s entire world. People don’t matter so much as their outfits do.

    The story may pull more than a little bit from Romeo and Juliette but the setting and the performances make it more than just another modernization of Shakespeare and thankfully the performances are strong enough to make it work. We grow to like Julie as Deborah Foreman shows us that there is more to her than clothes and makeup. She’s got more going on than just looks, even if it isn’t super obvious at first, and Foreman is pretty much perfect in this part. Supporting work from Daily, Holicker and Meyrink as her three friends is also quite strong but their characters don’t have the arc that Julie does and as such, they aren’t asked to do as much in terms of dramatic acting, rather, they play amusing stereotypes.

    And then there’s Nicolas Cage. His character is cool, but not the kind of cool that Julie and her crew appreciate – at least not at first. He’s a bit of a punk, he doesn’t have the latest clothes or the coolest fashions and what’s appealing about him? He doesn’t really care. This is a good part for Cage and it plays to his strengths, letting him ham it up just a bit, accentuating his inherent goofiness in all the right ways. He and Bowen make for interesting opposites here, one a lanky goofball, the other a perfectly sculpted jock and both are good in their roles, but it’s Cage you really remember here when it’s all over and done with.

    Maybe what’s most impressive about Valley Girl is that it’s able to be legitimately funny and also retain an effective sweetness. The teenagers that populate the movie have a bit more going on upstairs than say, the kids in the Porky’s films. There’s more to this than just base jokes about horny teens trying to get laid. There’s an actual heart to the film. If that sounds corny, so be it, but it works remarkably well and director Martha Coolidge not only does a nice job controlling the pacing but in coaxing really strong work out of her cast as well.

    Valley Girl – Blu-ray Review:

    Valley Girl was given a new 4k scan for this release, which frames the film in its proper 1.85.1 widescreen on a 50GB disc in AVC encoded 1080p high definition. There's nice depth and detail here, plenty of texture as well, and color reproduction looks very strong. We get nice black levels and a very clean presentation that shows no noticeable print damage but that retains a natural amount of film grain. The colors really do pop quite nicely here, skin tones look great too. No complains, this is a solid transfer.

    English tracks are provided in DTS-HD 5.1 and 2.0 Stereo options with removable subtitles available in English only. Both tracks are clean, clear and properly balanced. The 5.1 mix spreads the score and the effects around rather well while the 2.0 track obviously keeps everything up front. There are no problems with any hiss or distortion here, the audio quality is pretty strong.

    Shout! Factory has put together some exclusive extras for this Blu-ray release, starting with In Conversation, a fifty-minute talk involving Coolidge and actresses E.G. Daily and Heidi Holicker. This is quite worthwhile as it’s a very blunt talk about the ups and downs of making the movie including having to do nudity, what types of characters they wound up playing, how they got along with fellow cast members and quite a bit more. Also new to this disc is Greetings From The San Fernando Valley which is a twenty-minute history of the area that is hosted by Tommy Gelinas of The Valley Relics Museum. It’s an interesting look at what makes the area different and at its unique culture. Shout! Factory has also included a five-minute Show And Tell segment with Coolidge who shows off some mementos and memorabilia from the film.

    The rest of the extras, which are considerable, are carried over from the 2003 special edition DVD release that came out via MGM starting with a commentary featuring director Martha Coolidge. It’s a fun track with a lot of good information in it. She talks quite enthusiastically about what the cast and crew she worked with brought to the production but also about the time restraints that she was under from the studio, the locations used in the film, the music, the fashions and quite a bit more. Coolidge has a pretty sharp memory and is never at a loss for words here.

    The archival featurettes included here start off with Valley Girl: 20 Totally Tubular Years Later
    In Conversation: Nicolas Cage and Martha Coolidge, a twenty-four-minute retrospective look back at the making of the film featuring interviews with Coolidge, Cage Elizabeth Daly, Michael Bowen, Heidi Holicker, Colleen Camp and a few others. If you haven’t seen this before it’s worthwhile and quite amusing. In The Music Of Valley Girl we spend sixteen-minutes with Coolidge, Peter Case of The Plimsouls, Josie Cotton and Robbie Grey of Modern English talking about the importance of the music used in the film and what went into creating it. The twenty-minute In Conversation: Martha Coolidge And Nicolas Cage piece is just what it sounds like – a talk with the director and the star about their work together on the film.

    Interestingly enough, if you dig around in the extras here, you’ll also find a forty-eight-minute piece called The Girls, a fifty-four-minute piece called The Boys, a forty-three-minute piece called The Parents, a fourteen-minute piece called The Producers/Writers and a fifty-four-minute piece called The Bands. Each of these sections presents the full, unedited interviews that were conducted for the 2003 special features. Yeah, some of it obviously made it into those featurettes but some of it did not and for the hardcore fan, this is pretty neat to see.

    Rounding out the extras is an eleven-minute storyboard to film comparison section with an intro from Coolidge, a pair of music videos (I Melt With You and Million Miles Away), the film’s original trailer, menus and chapter selection.

    Shout! Factory provides a reversible cover art option for this release as well as a slipcover for the first pressing.

    Valley Girl – The Final Word:

    Valley Girl is, in a word, fun. It isn’t deep but as far as romantic comedies go, it’s definitely quirky enough to work thanks to an engaging story, some memorable characters and some committed performances. Shout! Factory’s Blu-ray is a good one, presenting the film in excellent shape, with solid audio and with a whole lot of interesting and enjoyable extra features.

    Click on the images below for full sized Valley Girl Blu-ray screen caps!