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Girl 2020 Movie Review Poster Trailer Online
Director: Chad Faust
Writer: Chad Faust
Stars: Bella Thorne, Mickey Rourke, Chad Faust
Southern California is first and foremost a car culture. Everything’s so spread out, any trip to the mall, the movies, the beach takes place on wheels. For today’s SoCal teens, these trips offer a chance to catch up on cellphone conversations, podcasts, maybe NPR, but back in the early ’80s, drive time was dominated by pop radio, and the stations competed to be cutting edge. You can hear that in the original “Valley Girl,” a generation-defining opposites-attract romance that opens with a helicopter shot that pans from Hollywood, up over the hills, past a radio tower, to the San Fernando Valley. We hear the L.A.-based station fade out and the Valley-side DJ take over.
From there, “Valley Girl” was basically wall-to-wall new wave discoveries — catchy, synth-powered songs from bands that hadn’t yet broken, lending cred to an otherwise conventional tale of the edgy, slightly older guy who shows a materialistic high school junior there’s more to life than shopping. Director Martha Coolidge spent nearly half her budget on music rights, recognizing that the soundtrack would serve as the pulse to a movie that made a far greater cultural impact than anyone could have imagined: It popularized Valleyspeak (of the original lingo, only “tubular” and “bitchin’” haven’t stuck), made a star of Nicolas Cage and redefined the way teen movies used music.
Now a remake has arrived, and get this: It’s a musical. That seems fitting, except the 2020 update — a sparkling but unwanted bauble directed by Rachel Lee Goldenberg, who wasn’t born until two years after the 1983 film opened — is so steeped in nostalgia that it’s an entirely different animal, “a million miles away” from the cult classic that only just found its way to VOD for the first time last month. Instead of feeling ahead of the zeitgeist, as “Valley Girl” was, this “High School Musical”-style cover version is stuck in the past, a strange pastel-colored, big-haired, thrift-store tribute to one of America’s tackiest decades, hitched to a retro roster of vintage pop tunes. Some were there in the original; others, like an aerobics-class workout to Madonna’s “Material Girl,” would’ve fit right in.
Plot-wise, this is still a film with just enough in common with “Romeo and Juliet” — two teens from rival “families” who, like, totally love each other — to justify its lead couple making out beneath a marquee touting Shakespeare’s tragedy: After noticing one another at the beach, Jessica (played by “Happy Death Day” actor Jessica Rothe) and Randy (Josh Whitehouse) meet at a house party in the Valley, where she sneaks off with him to a night at an L.A.-side live-music club (Goldenberg recycles actual shots from the earlier film for the Hollywood cruising montage).
Goldenberg and screenwriter Amy Talkington have upgraded Jessica’s and Randy’s ambitions. She makes doll-sized dresses in her spare time and dreams of going to the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, rather than Northridge, as her parents (Judy Greer and Rob Huebel) expect. He belongs to a band the film describes as punk, but when given the opportunity, he sings an acoustic-sounding version of another Madonna number, the not-yet-released “Crazy for You.”
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