Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Nicolas Locked in the Cage of Youth

I never would've thought Nicolas Cage's career was going to go anywhere if all I'd seen was 1983's Valley Girl. This teen romantic comedy directed by Martha Coolidge is more interesting for its subplots left strangely incomplete than for its vaguely Romeo and Juliet inspired central tale.

Closer to Lady and the Tramp, the story follows working class Randy (Cage) and his unlikely romance with a valley girl with the not terrible subtle name of Julie Richman (Deborah Foreman). I guess because she's rich. We're not dealing with Charles Dickens here.

It's hard to say why the two are so into each other. After he crashes a valley party, she goes with him on an adventure to the wrong side of the tracks at which point she says she feels some inexplicable connexion to him. And that's all the explanation we get except for a montage of the two goofing off.

A lot more interesting is Elizabeth Daily as Julie's friend Loryn. Early in the film, Julie's ex-boyfriend, Tommy (Michael Bowen), aggressively makes out with Loryn, which she reluctantly goes along with, but he stomps off angrily after getting her top off when she says making out with her means they have to go steady. This was probably meant just to establish that Tommy's an asshole and Julie's better off with Randy but watching Loryn struggle with how to tell Julie about this, and wondering if Loryn's going to succumb to the comfort of the status quo, is twenty times more captivating than anything Julie and Randy get up to. Daily gives a surprisingly subtle performance which draws attention as much as her beautiful, atypical looks.

Speaking of atypical looks, I never realised Nicolas Cage's chest hair formed something like the Bat Symbol:

I guess he really was miscast as Superman. It's like his hair grew to perfectly fit a shirt with its top three buttons undone.

There's another kind of amusing subplot where another of the teen guys possibly falls for the mother of one of Julie's friends but like the Loryn subplot it ends before it comes to what seems like it's going to be its natural conclusion. Instead we get Randy's improbable attempts to win Julie back when the inevitable obstacle comes between them--he somehow gets jobs at all the places she goes to with her friends. I guess you could say that's creepy but their whole relationship is so vaguely sketched it's hard to say what is appropriate between the two.

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