Valley Girl

Movie review by
Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media
Valley Girl Movie Poster Image
Hollow musical remake is out of tune; drinking, language.
  • PG-13
  • 2020
  • 102 minutes

Parents say

No reviews yetAdd your rating

Kids say

No reviews yetAdd your rating

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Think independently. Follow your heart. Don't judge a person by their social circle.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Main couple sees each other without prejudice. They accept each other for who they are, not where they're from. Progressive changes to this include improved representation in terms of ethnicity, gender, and sexuality.

Violence

A couple of fistfights include punches to the face. A young woman clocks a guy who makes offensive comments.

Sex

Innuendo. Lots of kissing. Gentle implication a couple is about to have sex; consent is asked for. In a comical moment, several guys show their rear ends.

Language

Language includes "a--hole," "d--k," "douche bag," "screw you," "s--t," and "skank." "Oh my God" as an exclamation.

Consumerism

Brands are used to identify the '80s, including a rad Bronco.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Several scenes of teens/young adults drinking at parties or clubs. Adults make negative references to drinking and drugs.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Valley Girl is a notably tamer musical remake of the 1983 Nicolas Cage Romeo and Juliet romance. Randy (Joshua Whitehouse) and Julie (Jessica Rothe) fall in love despite living a Hollywood Hill apart and must defy those who don't like that they're dating "one of them." It takes a simplistic look at '80s-era culture clash by pitting entitled airheads against angry punks. The story is put in the context of a modern-day mom (Alicia Silverstone) relating to her daughter's boyfriend woes by sharing the tale of how her own high school romance challenged her to defy peer pressure and made a positive impact on her life. The content here is considerably milder than in the original film, but it does include teen drinking at parties. There's also some strong language ("s--t," "d--k"), innuendo, lots of kissing, and the implication that a couple is about to have sex (consent is requested and granted). Modern updates include improved representation in terms of ethnicity, gender, and sexuality.

Wondering if Valley Girl is OK for your kids?

Set preferences and get age-appropriate recommendations with Common Sense Media Plus. Join now

Continue reading Show less

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

What's the story?

VALLEY GIRL is a musical remake of the 1983 classic. Set to a New Wave soundtrack, it tells the story of Sherman Oaks High senior Julie (Jessica Rothe) and Hollywood punk Randy (Joshua Whitehouse). They fall in love despite pressure from family and friends who don't want their relationship to work.

Is it any good?

Given the popularity of La La Land and the power of '80s nostalgia, a musical version of Nic Cage's 1980s classic should have worked -- but it disappointingly doesn't. On paper, it looks good. The New Wave soundtrack is awesome: From Missing Persons to Adam Ant to Roxy Music to The Cure, the compilation of rad music in Valley Girl is a wonder in itself. Singer/actor/choreographer Mandy Moore put the dance numbers together (as she did for La La Land). And notable "valley girl" (although, to be clear, she was a Beverly Hills ditz in the '90s) Alicia Silverstone plays Julie as an adult. She recounts her story to her teen daughter (Camilla Morrone), a device that lets the filmmakers drop the original's more cringey '80s elements. Rothe, another La La Land alum, is on the rise  after her comedic horror hit Happy Death Day. And Whitestone is a musican/actor who feels like the second coming of Heath Ledger in his 10 Things I Hate About You debut. Welcome updates to the original include one of Julie's besties being Black (as original film director Martha Coolidge had intended, before being nixed by studio execs), and Randy's pal is now a lesbian. When this version was initially cast and filmed, co-star Logan Paul was the YouTube personality among teens. Topping it all off, Randy's band is actually hit makers American Authors. What could go wrong?

Everything, it would seem. First, while it's true that the cast has some singing capability, as many an eliminated American Idol contestant can attest: Song choice is everything. Music that would otherwise get your spirit soaring instead sinks when you hear the cast's painfully off-note pipes (Rothe and Whitehouse's version of a-ha's "Take on Me" is an ear-bleeder). The dance numbers aren't all that; you'd be hard pressed to recall any of the moves. Rothe lacks authenticity. Whitehouse lacks brood. And upon seeing Paul, teens will likely have a visceral reaction: In the last couple of years, he's become one of the most controversial and divisive personalities in kid culture. What's more, Valley Girl's story is thin. In reflecting back on an era, the film misses the point. The 1983 film identified two youth cultures that were emerging in Los Angeles: the "Daddy's money," bubble-headed, easy street, suburban mall kittens who created a light-tongued lingo, and the angry, rage-filled, scrappy, destructive moshers who antagonized authority. Ultimately, millennial director Rachel Lee Goldberg covers the '80s the same way an aspiring singer covers a classic song: Even if she hits all the correct notes, she lacks a true connection to the material. Still, for parents, Silverstone is a welcome presence. Her scenes create the environment for this to be a fun mother-daughter movie: Maybe you can even crib her moves and open up to your kid about your teen experiences (perhaps, like Julie, "forgetting" some of the moments that -- ahem -- don't hold up). And, despite Valley Girl's shortcomings, the goofiness of it all does bring smiles. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about "vals" and "punks." How did these two LA-based identity movements impact youths nationwide in the 1980s? Is there anything similar in today's teen culture?

  • How are the early '80s portrayed in Valley Girl? Do you think that's realistic, or do you think it's been Hollywoodized? How does this compare to films you've seen that were made in the '80s? 

  • How is drinking portrayed in the film? Is it glamorized? Does it matter that the wild behavior is set in a different era?

  • Why do you think they decided to make this remake a musical? How does it compare to other musicals you've seen? 

  • If you've seen the original, how did writer Amy Talkington change the story to reflect modern sensibilities? Why do you think she did that?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love the '80s

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate