"This is the story of Randy and Julie. The way they come together and the people who try to pull them apart. Julie's cool. Randy's hot. She's from the Valley. He's...not!"- Valley Girl trailer (1983)Julie is, like, so over her preppy boyfriend, she dumps him on the escalator at the Galleria. When she meets punker Randy, her eyes practically bug out because she thinks he's sexy, even though he makes her friends gag! Even if Randy's ready to stop the world and melt with her, though, can Julie risk losing her friends and her super-popularity at school just to be with him?A punk kid from Hollywood decides to crash a party in the San Fernando Valley, where he meets the girl of his dreams. Throw in an awesome '80s soundtrack and obvious references to Romeo and Juliet, and the end product is this romantic comedy starring Deborah Foreman and Nicolas Cage. True love is only a zip code away!
Covers Always Lie: The Valley Girl standing with Nicolas Cage's Randy in the movie poster is not actually Deborah Foreman's Julie. Word of God says that it is actress Tina Theberge, who plays Randy's ex-girlfriend, Samantha, in the movie. A budget DVD release of Valley Girl with The Sure Thing (as the Totally Awesome 80s Double Feature: The Sure Thing / Valley Girl) has Foreman's head obviously Photoshopped onto Theberge's body on the front cover.
Culture Clash: Julie is from the Valley and Randy is a punk who attends Hollywood High. Julie's friends don't care for Randy, and Randy's friend Fred doesn't care for the Valley girls, save for Stacey, with whom he becomes infatuated.
Additionally, Suzi and Stacey are unaware of, or choose to ignore, Tommy's Jerk Ass traits simply because he is a "bitchin'" example of what they consider to be an ideal Valley dude. Not only that, but the looks that Stacey often gives Tommy and her constant referring to him as a hunk seem to hint that she might have wanted him for herself.
On the flip side, the Valley Girls are quick to dismiss Julie's glowing praise of Randy, simply because he is from Hollywood.
The Valley Girls' distaste for Randy is ironic in hindsight when taken into account that they practically drooled at the sight of him at the beach earlier; Stacey had even described him as a "hunk"! Of course, people are not likely to wear their street clothes at the beach, so Stacey had no way of knowing that the hunk that had caught her attention would be the Hollywood punk who would later romance her best friend.
After Randy and Fred are tossed from Suzi's party, Randy remarks that Julie is "truly dazzling." Fred counters with, "But she's not one of ours," as he ushers Randy back to his car.
Despair Event Horizon: Randy, after Julie dumps him. He goes on a drinking binge, has a heated make-out session with his ex-girlfriend, and is about to brawl with a car full of lowriders before Fred singlehandedly rescues him.
Fight Scene: Randy fights Tommy, Julie's on-again, off-again boyfriend, at the prom.
Fish out of Water: Randy introduces Julie to his punk scene. Julie seems tolerant of it, but Stacey is visibly repulsed.
Foreign Queasine: Suzi and Beth serve sushi ("Like, this is your tuna, that's flying fish egg, and that's sea urchin.") at the party. Sushi was apparently not nearly as popular in Hollywood as it was in the Valley at the time, which would explain Randy's and Fred's reactions to seeing the Valley kids eating and enjoying the party fare.
In Randy and Fred's defense, the sushi served at Suzi's party did not look particularly appetizing.
A freeze frame of the sushi platters as Suzi describes them shows that most of the sushi appeared to be rolls filled with vegetarian ingredients like cucumber, kampyo (Japanese gourd), and daikon pickles, with hardly a scrap of tuna, flying fish eggs, or sea urchin roe in sight. Given the film's low budget and the relatively high cost of the ingredients named, the vegetables were more than likely used in the sushi so as to stay within budget. The vegetables were also likely used to minimize spoilage, given that fresh seafood would have gone bad quickly under the bright lights used in filming.
A scene where Beth and Lyle are preparing sushi for the party shows Lyle attempting to top a gunkan maki (that's the style of sushi that consists of a portion of rice circled by a strip of seaweed to serve as a cup, typically used to hold ingredients like fish eggs) with a very thick and sticky substance somewhat resembling thin peanut butter. He tries at first to use chopsticks to add the topping to the sushi, then switches to a spoon, which actually turns out to be less manageable than the chopsticks, before returning to use the chopsticks again. Whatever this foodstuff was that Lyle was trying to top the sushi with was ostensibly a stand-in for actual sea urchin.
Randy eats a smear of wasabi, believing it to be "pistachio paste." His reaction is low-key, but he apparently did not enjoy what he ate.
Sushi is much more common and widely available in current American society than back in the 1980's, particularly in California (this troper once ate sushi at a restaurant in Hollywood in the mid-1990's). The scene outlined in this example only helps to underscore what an Unintentional Period Piece the film has become.
Groin Attack: After Tommy makes a huge show of some martial arts-type moves during their Fight Scene, Randy unleashes the low blow on him.
Hey, It's That Guy!: Nicolas Cage as Randy (his first-ever role credited as "Nicolas Cage") and actress/singer/voice actress E.G. Daily (Pee-wee's Big Adventure, Rugrats) as Loryn; she is credited as "Elizabeth Daily." Jon Cryer makes an uncredited appearance in the sequence in which Randy is hiding in the bathroom at Suzi's party, hoping that Julie will come in; he is the Valley guy sharing a joint with two Valley girls.
Hippie Parents: Julie's parents own a health food restaurant, wear Birkenstocks, and are the epitome of Hippiedom.
Interrupted Intimacy: Skip and Suzi. He had gone to her house, hoping to score with Beth, but found Suzi instead. The scene is presented so that it appears that Skip is having sex with Beth after having found her in the shower, with Suzi returning home while this is happening, but The Reveal shows that Beth was the one coming home to catch Skip and Suzi in the act.
Jerk Ass: Tommy. At Suzi's party, he tries to make Julie jealous by deliberately walking or dancing by her with any one of several girls also in attendance. It doesn't work; she continues to give him the cold shoulder. Tommy later tries to bed Loryn, but when she insists that they will be a couple after the deed is done, he reverses gears, calls her a lousy friend for trying to "take advantage" of him, and blackmails her into silence ("I won't tell if you won't."). Of course, not only does he tell his friends, but he lies, saying that Loryn had been "good." When he catches wind of Julie talking to Randy, he and his cronies interrupt their conversation, rough Randy up on the spot, then throw him out of the house.
Mean Character, Nice Actor: Tommy's actor, Michael Bowen, is said to be extremely sweet, thoughtful, and somewhat shy when the cameras are off. Bowen has made a career out of playing Jerk Ass types because it offers him a challenge to play someone far removed from who he is in real life.
Mrs. Robinson: Beth. She and Skip are clearly attracted to each other, and Beth even lampshades the trope when Skip comes over to deliver groceries. When Suzi calls Skip to invite him over to the house during an unsupervised slumber party (Beth is on a date), he declines, muttering his disappointment after hanging up. Subverted when Skip goes to Beth's house, looking for her, and is apparently having sex with her when Suzi comes home, but Beth turns out to be the one who comes home and discovers Skip in her bed... with Suzi!
Property of Love: Symbolized by Tommy's ID bracelet (in the 1980's, it was trendy for girls to wear their boyfriends' ID bracelets to signify that they "belonged" to said boyfriends). Julie returns Tommy's to him when she breaks up with him at the mall. When Julie gets back together with Tommy after being pressured into it by her friends, the first thing he does is put his bracelet back on her wrist. As Randy and Julie ride to the Valley Sheraton after escaping from the Valley High junior prom, Julie slides Tommy's bracelet off her wrist and looks at it for a moment before chucking it out the window.
At the start of the film, Julie remarks that she and Tommy have been together so long, she feels like a piece of furniture, specifically, an old chair.
Really Gets Around: Stacey and Julie have a conversation in which Stacey says that she believes that Loryn does the things she says she does ("I mean, who could make up 'that stuff tastes like Clorox'?"). Julie, however, is not convinced, though she does worry for Loryn's safety. Stacey's suspicions turn out to be true; Loryn makes out with a drunken Tommy at Suzi's party and is prepared to go further. When she insists that doing the nasty will cement them as a couple, however, Tommy backs off and blackmails her into silence, saying, "I won't tell if you won't." Of course, Tommy, being the Jerk Ass that he is, not only tells, but lies about his encounter, hinting that he and Loryn did go all the way.
Romeo and Juliet: Heavily lampshaded by Randy and Julie's names, and when they kiss in front of a movie marquee bearing the title.
Stalking Is Love: Randy. He goes back to Suzi's house after being thrown out, sneaks into the upstairs bathroom through the window, and hides in the shower stall, waiting and hoping that Julie will eventually come in. The next day, he shows up unannounced at the Richmans' health food store to see Julie, much to her shock (although she does turn out to be pleased to see him). After Randy resolves to win Julie back after she dumps him, he accosts her on her way to school, which doesn't go well. Julie later finds photo booth pictures of Randy in her schoolbooks, and that he has dedicated a song to her on the radio ("Eyes of a Stranger," the song that played when they first met at Suzi's party). Randy then goes all about the Valley, getting jobs in places where Julie just happens to go, just to get a glimpse of her. Julie seems secretly happy to see him, but seeing that he had spent the night sleeping on her front lawn proves too much for her; she tries to close the shutters of her bedroom window before he can see her, but fails as Randy protests loudly.
The Bro Code: Averted. Loryn makes out with Tommy at Suzi's party and would have slept with him, had he not balked at her insistence that if they did, they would be "going together."
The Mall: Sherman Oaks' former Galleria, to be exact, though most of the mall scenes were filmed at the Del Amo Fashion Center in Torrance, CA.
Unintentional Period Piece: With the exception of Julie's parents, everything about this film screams 80's, particularly the hair, clothes, and music.
Valley Girl: The core four girls to the max, with the exception of Loryn. In the DVD commentary for the film, E.G. Daily admitted that she had no idea what Valley Girls were supposed to sound like, so she decided that Loryn would be from Malibu in order to explain why Loryn's speech pattern was somewhat different from the other girls'. Malibu borders the Valley, or is otherwise close enough to it (much more so than Hollywood proper, though the city of North Hollywood is actually within the Valley) for Julie, Stacey, and Suzi to not mind that Loryn was not a true Valley Girl.
Considering that Malibu was, and still is, one of the beach spots in southern California, befriending Loryn apparently came with a few perks.
Stacey is the most vocal in her disapproval; she makes the most snarky comments about Julie and Randy's relationship and puts the most pressure on Julie to break up with Randy and reunite with Tommy. Her vehement disapproval seems to stem not just from her prejudice against non-Valley folk, but also from her anxiety that Suzi and Loryn might find out that she, albeit unwillingly, went to Hollywood with Julie, Randy, and Fred, and will ostracize her the same way that she insinuates that everyone will do to Julie if Julie continues to date Randy.
Suzi seems to be unable to form her own opinion and merely follows Stacey's lead, though she is much less overtly hostile towards Julie than Stacey is.
Loryn, however, seems conflicted. She goes along with Stacey and Suzi in dogging Julie about Randy when the clique is together, but when she and Julie are by themselves at Du-par's and Julie asks her for advice about the situation, Loryn, because of A) having found out firsthand what a Jerk Ass Tommy turned out to be, B) just being more adventurous with the opposite sex than the other girls, or C) possibly feeling some sympathy for Julie's situation, given that Loryn, being from Malibu, is technically an outsider herself within the clique, earnestly admits that she, too, doesn't know what Julie should do.
Julie, despite her better judgment, caves in to peer pressure (or, more accurately, to Stacey's smug needling) and announces her intent to break up with Randy. Stacey, with a big relieved smile on her face, tells Julie that she's done the right thing and Suzi just smiles approvingly. Loryn, though, looks visibly uncomfortable (most likely stemming from the reasons outlined above, as well as knowing that Julie was pretty much bullied into making her decision), but says nothing.