There are so many remakes and sequels these days that you sort of just have to hope that a few of them will be good. It’s nearly impossible to predict if they’re doing their own thing or just copying the original, beat for beat. The original VALLEY GIRL (1983) directed by Martha Coolidge hasn’t exactly dated well for today’s generation and is kind of laughable to look back on. Still, I enjoy that movie quite a bit and I was very curious as to how they would adapt the film for an audience today. While the reboot is not a great movie, there’s absolutely some likeability here, even if it’s incredibly cheesy.
Much like the original classic, this movie follows rich girl from the valley, Julie (Jessica Rothe) and punk guy, Randy (Josh Whitehouse) from a rough background who form a bond against the odds their parent’s wishes. Told in the style of a musical this time and set to classic 80s songs, it’s sung in a way that will please newer audiences. However, everything about this movie felt strange.
It felt the need to flash back and forth to Julie as an adult, explaining her love life to her daughter, seemingly so that children and teenage viewers would understand what life was like about 30 years ago. The oddest thing about this movie was the fact that the set design and costumes all felt authentic for the most part, but the performances all felt like young adults pretending to be from that era. I didn’t actually buy into the fact that this took place in the 80s. And as aforementioned, the music sounds very new, despite they’re classics. They were trying to bring the film to a new audience but were restricting themselves to the 80s era, and it clashed. I was unsure of what this movie was trying to convey, and I feel that this film could’ve been completely different and much better if they used today’s pop music to tell the story.
Where Rachel Lee Goldenberg’s VALLEY GIRL (2020) shines, however, are Jessica Rothe as Julie and Josh Whitehouse as Randy. Rothe is someone I’ve kept an eye on since her role in Christopher Landon’s HAPPY DEATH DAY (2017). Whitehouse is someone I’ve never seen before, but also delivered a fun performance. I liked the chemistry between the two of them, but the script itself and musical choices definitely weighed it all down for me. Yes, the music is very recognizable and the cast is well assembled, which made for a breezy, enjoyable viewing experience, but it just didn’t all work as a whole for me.
In the end, the 2020 reboot of VALLEY GIRL surely has its moments and is anchored by Rothe’s and Whitehouse’s committed performances, but it wasn’t enough to warrant this remake overall. In a way, this film felt like Deborah Foreman, the original actress to play Julie, grew up and told her daughter about the film from 1983; it just felt like a musical recap of the original, but still done in a pleasing way. I didn’t dislike watching this film at all, but I can’t see today’s younger generation caring all that much about it. Unfortunate because that seems to be who it’s aimed at as it’s no longer R-rated. A fun watch for the music and performances, but not much more than that.