Back in 2017, the world was blessed with a new take on the teen slasher subgenre with the release of Happy Death Day (and later on its subsequent sequel). In a variation of Groundhog Day, Jessica Rothe plays a not so nice college student who finds herself reliving the same day she is murdered until she can find out who is responsible and why. Her treatment of others opens the door for several suspects, leading to lessons learned in a fun, genre style experience. The film was both critically and financially successful and led to an even more fun sequel that had a more science fiction vibe to it. Rothe instantly became beloved in the horror community and fans awaited what she would do next. While she has made a couple of appearances, we are still waiting for another standout role. Until then, fans of pop music and the eighties can see her now in this remake of VALLEY GIRL.
Julie Richman (Alicia Silverstone, who just loves to pop up at every corner lately in random movies) tells her teenage daughter the story of her high school senior year. Rothe plays teenage Richman, your typical movie valley who, like, talks like this, like, all the time. She has the perfect on paper boyfriend that she dumps for the more supposedly dangerous punk rocker, Randy (Josh Whitehouse). Together, they fight against her concerned friends and displeased mother (Judy Greer, Halloween) by breaking out in signature eighties pop tunes.
The premise seems like a safe and fun trip for a romantic comedy, but it feels like your favorite mixtape has thrown up all over the screen. Nostalgia has been a thing for years now, especially the eighties so it no longer feels nostalgic. Thanks to music streaming services and throwback movies, these songs no longer give that “I love this song” reaction. Not only that, the songs chosen (“Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” “Take on Me,” etc) have never lost their popularity and have been covered many times since. Neon colors are splashed onto the wardrobe and side ponytails are on full display. The singing is a hit or miss, but it’s evident that extra studio work was utilized.
The primary success of VALLEY GIRL is some of the cast. Silverstone provides the right kind of throwback for us nineties kids who fell in love with her during the Clueless years. She’s given little screen time, but enough to want to pick up some older DVDs. Ashleigh Murray also steals the show as Loryn, one of Richman’s friends. Not only does her presence shine on screen, but is also the best vocalist in the cast. Unfortunately, this seems to be the same issue on The CW’s “Riverdale,” where she plays the infamous Josie of Josie and the Pussycats. Rothe works with what she’s given, but it’s minimal. It’s clear by her talent that she belongs in a bigger, more thought out production.
VALLEY GIRL, like Hubba Bubba Bubble Tape, lacks much substance with little taste to leave you coming back for seconds.
VALLEY GIRL is now available on Digital and Blu-ray. You can check out further details here.