Valley Girl Blu-ray Review

Endearing 1980’s New Wave Comedy and Romance

Director Martha Coolidge’s Valley Girl followed in the footsteps of Amy Heckerling’s Fast Times At Ridgemont High back in the Eighties. Both movies took a crack at the high school zeitgeist in the early 1980s and became quintessential snapshots of American high school life in their own quirky ways.

Valley Girl is the nigh perfect New Wave teen comedy, starring a young Nicolas Cage and Deborah Foreman (April Fool’s Day, My Chauffeur). Loaded with New Wave hits from bands like Modern English and the Plimsouls, the soundtrack is practically a character in its own right.

Preppy teen and valley girl Julie (Deborah Foreman) has to make a decision when the rough Randy (Nicolas Cage) enters her life and rocks her world. Breaking up with Tommy (Michael Bowen), the boy everyone in her social clique at school thinks she should date, Julie becomes open to romantic possibilities with Randy.

From the proverbial wrong side of the tracks, Randy is nothing like the guys Julie normally dates. Julie will be caught in a culture clash between her friends’ placid valley culture and Randy’s wild punk background. He’d rather visit a hip nightclub in Hollywood than spend time at the mall. Their romance hits a snag when Julie realizes Randy doesn’t fit into her world. Their social circles don’t overlap at all.

Valley Girl is a step back into a simpler time, before teen movies felt they needed to score points pushing phony messages

Driven by an endless array of hip songs, Valley Girl is a perfect time capsule capturing high school life in the San Fernando Valley during the 1980s. With likable leads in Nicolas Cage and Deborah Foreman, director Martha Coolidge fashions a funny and sweetly romantic movie. Its liberal usage of New Wave hits firmly marks Valley Girl forever in a certain time and place. However, the basic story isn’t far removed from any dramatic teen romance that puts the couple at odds after falling in love. Mixed in with the humor is real pathos and teen angst.

There is something appealing and fundamentally likable about valley girl Julie that propels the movie above its simple story of teenage love. Some of that has to be from Deborah Foreman’s multi-faceted portrayal of the valley girl. Call it romantic nostalgia, but even the funny background characters ring true. Julie’s laid-back hippy parents are hilarious, while also feeling like real people without being caricatures. It’s like a step back into a simpler time, before teen movies felt they needed to score points pushing phony messages. The screenplay never forgets the movie is about teenagers, while also delivering a satisfying teen romance.

This is definitely the quirky Nicolas Cage before he became a huge movie star, taking chances in his roles. Randy is a sweet-natured punk that loves Julie, which should be enough to win Julie’s heart. Randy’s almost reckless pursuit of Julie makes him a sympathetic character we are rooting for as viewers. Cage and Foreman share a strangely magnetic chemistry that shouldn’t work on screen but ends up being one of the 1980’s more memorable cinematic couples.

Valley Girl is a fun, enjoyable teen comedy from the 1980s. You could do much worse than watch Valley Girl’s retro charms with its pounding New Wave soundtrack.

Video

Shout Factory has done a phenomenal job bringing Valley Girl to Blu-ray for the first time. Licensed from MGM, the new 4k film scan from the original camera negative exudes definition and clarity. This is an authentic, top-notch 1080P presentation that finely replicates the film’s theatrical presentation.

The film-like transfer has nice saturation and excellent flesh-tones, offering an improved contrast with strong black levels. The elements are in crisp, amazing condition with nary a sign of damage or deterioration.

The main feature runs 99 minutes. Presented at Valley Girl’s intended 1.85:1 aspect ratio, the generous AVC encode beautifully handles the movie’s grain structure. Valley Girl has tight, fluid Hollywood cinematography from the period, capturing the locations in impressive detail. The image harvest from the new 4K film scan has little extraneous processing. Any softness is inherent to the film. A hint of ringing is visible in a couple of scenes. This is one of the best transfers released yet by Shout Factory.

Cutting to the chase, Valley Girl on Blu-ray shows a remarkable improvement in picture quality over the MGM DVD and all prior editions. This is a videophile transfer ready for UHD, much less Blu-ray.

Audio

What’s incredible about this Blu-ray is Shout Factory has preserved all the original theatrical music included in the film, clearing every song first heard back in 1983. Valley Girl’s memorable New Wave soundtrack arrives in fantastic 5.1 DTS-HD MA.

The surround mix in lossless quality adds placement, clarity and depth to the movie’s soundstage. Driven by twenty-some New Wave songs, including Modern English’s catchy “I Melt With You” during a critical montage, even the rears see some nice action. Dialogue is clear, focused and intelligible at all times.

Optional English SDH subtitles play in a white font. A secondary audio option is the original monaural soundtrack in 2.0 DTS-HD MA. If you have a surround system, pick the 5.1 DTS-HD MA track for its heightened presence and impact.

Extras

Valley Girl is #50 in Shout Factory’s Shout Select line of collector’s editions. Arriving for the first time on Blu-ray, it arrives with a slipcover and reversible artwork. Released twice by MGM on DVD, Shout Factory picks up practically all prior supplemental features with the exception of a video commentary by cast members.

Extensive new interviews and featurettes have been added on top of the fine archival featurettes and interviews brought over from DVD. Most of the older archival material dates back to 2003 from the special edition DVD.

The 2003 interviews include almost everyone from the cast but Deborah Foreman herself: Nicolas Cage, Cameron Dye, Frederic Forrest, E.G. Daily, Heidi Holicker, Colleen Camp, Lee Purcell, Producers Andrew Lane And Wayne Crawford, Peter Case Of The Plimsouls, Josie Cotton, DJ Richard Blade, and others.

Audio Commentary – Director Martha Coolidge gives this involved solo commentary which adds depth to the movie and covers her problems making it. The scene-specific commentary discusses shooting locations and many other production tidbits.

Valley Girl in Conversation (50:11 in HD) – A new discussion about making the film between director Martha Coolidge and actresses Elizabeth Daily and Heidi Holicker. Highlights include Elizabeth Daily discussing her nude scene and Coolidge explaining how the movie was built around the New Wave songs.

Greetings from the Valley Featurette (19:14 in HD) – A new featurette about the history of the San Fernando Valley with local historian Tommy Gelinas from the The Valley Relics Museum. It provides a nice bed of context and background for people unfamiliar with the area in California.

Show and Tell Featurette (04:47 in SD) – An archival featurette with Heidi Holicker discussing some mementos she had kept from her days filming the movie.

Storyboard-To-Film Comparisons (11:30 in HD) – A new split-screen featurette that shows the script as various scenes from the film play out.

In Conversation: Martha Coolidge and Nicholas Cage (20:00 in SD) – An archival discussion between the star and director on making Valley Girl. Cage has always been great in these kind of settings, breaking down his craft from a fairly sober perspective.

20 Totally Tubular Years Later (24:15 in SD) – A short retrospective looking at Valley Girl with Martha Coolidge, Nicholas Cage, Elizabeth (E.G.) Daily, Michael Bowen, Cameron Dye, Heidi Holicker, Colleen Camp, Frederic Forrest and Lee Purcell.

The Music of Valley Girl (15:57 in SD)

Music Videos (08:13 in SD) – Modern English’s “I Melt With You” and the Plimsouls’ “A Million Miles Away” are included. The video and audio are out of sync on Modern English’s hit, possibly sourced from VHS.

Valley Girl Trailer (02:27 in HD)

The Girls Interviews (47:51 in SD) – Separate interviews covering a wide range of topics with the actresses from Valley Girl.

The Boys Interviews (54:09 in SD) – Archival interviews with Nicolas Cage, Cameron Dye and others about the film.

The Parents Interviews (42:59 in SD) – Lee Purcell and Frederic Forrest are interviewed together about their roles.

The Bands Interviews (54:11 in SD) – Richard Blade, Peter Case, Josie Cotton and Colleen Camp are interviewed about their musical contributions to the film.

The Producers and Writers (14:17 in SD) – More interviews with crew members detailing how the movie was made, including writer Andrew Lane.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray release was provided to us for review by the label. For information on how we handle all review material, please visit our about us page to learn more about DoBlu’s editorial policies.

Valley Girl
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Nicolas Cage and Deborah Foreman star in Valley Girl, a perfect 1980s comedy and romance set to a blistering New Wave soundtrack.

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