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Valley Girl

Year: 1983
Production Co: Valley 9000
Director: Martha Coolidge
Writer: Wayne Crawford
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Deborah Foreman, Colleen Camp

This film was part of the zeitgeist of the time, capturing a vocabulary, sense of fashion and outlook of life. As kids we all knew the white picked-fenced good girls from The Valley were a world away from the rough and tumble boys just over the hill in Hollywood, and they'd no sooner date than a Tibetan sherpa would a Brazilian supermodel.

Of course, I didn't. It was one of those films where I've always been aware of the power it has over pop culture but I never quite got around to seeing it at the time. After watching it only recently nearly 20 years later, I can see it for what it is – an example of how an idea can capture attention and imagination, break its banks and become a swansong despite the deficiencies in the filmmaking arts.

To be fair, we weren't nearly as picky with quality in 1983 so the clunky dialogue, laughable 'bad boy' image rocked by Nicolas Cage and postage stamp-sized plot grate more than you'll expect them to.

But for a document on American youth in the 80s (or what Hollywood taught American youth in the 80s to be like), you can't do better. Julie is a quintessential Valley Girl – shopping with her vacuous girlfriends, talking about the preppy boys they all date, and exclaiming their emotions through liberal utterings of 'I'm so sure' and 'totally'.

After seeing a hunky boy at the beach, Julie meets him again that night at a party (wearing pastel and dancing badly in the living room, anyway). Randy (Cage) has overheard about the party at the beach and decided to crash it with his misfit friend.

Though they stand out like sore thumbs because of their black and red leather look, Randy and his friend arrive and he and Julie locks eyes immediately. After being beaten up by her ex, he sneaks back in just to see her, and the unthinkable happens when Julie falls for a Hollywood boy.

Her friends try to talk sense into her and Julie's almost convinced until true love prevails at her prom where Randy comes to cause a scene and win Julie back.

The producers called for a certain number of topless scenes to give it some raunch, and it's as much a historical document as a comment on kids and their tribes. It's just funny to consider the gulfs that arise between teenage cultures. If this film is to be believed, the difference between the herbal tea-drinking, trimmed-lawn of The Valley and the grungy rock clubs and punk stylings of Hollywood might as well be on different continents, even though you could almost throw a rock from one and hit the other.

Cage looks impossibly, ridiculously young, but if you saw it and liked it when it first came out, it's a reminder of how old we've all become along with him.

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