As much as the internet tries to convince me that Nicolas Cage is a good actor in an ironic way, his filmography shows his true talent. Valley Girl was an early indicator of the kind of exciting performances we would witness from Cage.
Cage may be a main character in the film, but he doesn’t step up to really embrace that role. He lets his costars Deborah Foreman, Michael Bowen, and Cameron Dye steal the show. Despite his role in the film being a punk, he sure acts like a straight-edge prep.
The Nicolas Cage Drawl
Nicolas Cage has an interesting accent; it’s like an indifferent Owen Wilson. Despite growing up in California, his voice sounds like it came from an entirely different place. It’s hard to imagine a man with as bland a voice being some sort of punk. I could imagine him being the chaperone to a prom, but not actually attending a prom.
Deep down, I know that Nicolas Cage was a child at some point. However, I cannot imagine him as anything other than a 40-year-old, deeply jaded man. His accent just emphasizes this. Seeing Nicolas Cage as a teenager is just strange; even though he was actually a teenager at the time of Valley Girl, he just doesn’t seem like one.
He’s supposed to be a punk living large and not giving a damn what others think. Instead, he’s Nicolas Cage going to nightclubs and awkwardly making love with goth chicks. It’s almost unnatural. I half expected him to whisper in his date’s ear that he wanted to steal the Declaration of Independence.
What Are Emotions?
Another thing about Nicolas Cage that I find strange is that he doesn’t quite seem in control of his emotions. He’s either dead inside or going 100 percent off his rocker. Valley Girl is a fun example of that. His character Randy is either vaguely in love with Julie (Foreman) or he’s extremely angry at the societal differences keeping them apart.
I will say this — he exemplifies a teenage boy very well. Thinking back to my days in high school, most boys I knew had two settings: indifference to everything or going feral for no reason. In Cage’s case, it’s a matter of just switching between these two settings based on the situation.
Julie and her friends have way more emotional depth than Cage’s character does. Sure, they have the usual high school girl feelings of young love, but they also have conversations about status, betrayal, and friendship. They aren’t one-track minds like Cage seems to be.
Tommy vs. Randy
Tommy (Bowen) is a jerk, but at least he has a personality. He has goals to have a girlfriend and be popular. He’s underhanded and sneaky, but he’s interesting to watch. Much more interesting than watching Randy stare at Julie for another few minutes.
Cage’s Randy isn’t super enticing to watch other than his violently 80s punk rock clothes. He just doesn’t have any life. Tommy, on the other hand, has expression. He doesn’t stare blankly at Julie; he stares with a mix of jealousy and lust and love. Honestly, if it wasn’t for how much of a jerk he is, Tommy would have been the better match for Julie.
To be fair, Cage plays the Romeo character quite well. Even in the original Shakespeare play, Romeo isn’t much beyond a love-stricken teen. He has some great soliloquies, but he isn’t filled with the same fiery emotion that Mercutio or Tybalt portray. Cage could have put a different spin on the character, but he just didn’t quite make it.
Punk rock Romeo could have been a revolutionary take on the original play. Romeo was always a bit of a punk, but portraying him as an 80s punk could have been a lot of fun. Yet, Cage never lives up to the potential that a character like that could have.
I would have had more fun if Cameron Dye and Nicolas Cage had switched places, Dye playing Randy and Cage playing his best friend, Fred. Dye is much more expressive and genuinely looks like he is a punk with no cares in the world other than having a good time. It wouldn’t have necessarily fit with the original Romeo and Juliet theme, but it would have made for a much more dynamic relationship between Julie and Randy.
I love how goofy Nicolas Cage is as an actor and person, but he didn’t quite nail it with this one. His performance as Randy in Valley Girl could have defined modern Shakespeare adaptations for the foreseeable future, but he just fell flat. It’s a largely forgettable performance.
Thank you for reading! What are your thoughts on Valley Girl? Comment down below!
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