Fast Times at Ridgemont High
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Director Amy Heckerling’s directorial debut has become a classic 1980’s teen flick that has stood the test of time for my generation. Focusing on a small group of Southern California high school students and their fast times at school and especially hanging out at the mall, this funny film will entertain you with their antics in drugs, sex and just plain growing up. Originally released in 1982 and based on the Cameron Crowe novel.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Jeff Spicoli…Phoebe Cates in her red bikini...'nuff said. For those of you who fondly remember this film from your own teenage years, (and that’s you if you grew up in the fantabulous 1980’s just like JoBlo and myself), you know what I am talking about. You see, the coolest character in this film is perfectly portrayed by one very young, and very gnarly, Sean Penn in the role of a lifetime: ultimate pothead surfer dude, Jeff Spicoli. This role is legendary, to say the least and Penn is hilarious here, one of his best roles ever. Jeff’s relationship with his American History teacher, Mr. Hand (Ray Walston) is a great one that you won’t soon forget either. And then for the boys out there, many of whom have specifically fantasized about Phoebe Cates’ character Linda Barrett in this movie, what can I say? I don’t blame you one bit because Phoebe has always been a foxy little thing, and she looked red hot in her red bikini, as Judge Reinhold’s character Brad Hamilton can gladly attest to (in the movie he also fantasizes about the lovely bikini-clad girl) in a scene I don’t even remember from the first time I saw it, back when I was fourteen. Can you believe it? It came out THAT long ago?!
The other famous faces in this film include a very young Anthony Edwards and Eric Stoltz who also hang out with Spicoli and his stoner buds. Small roles (they are both credited as Stoner Buds) but Eric Stoltz looks real good, ladies. We even have Forest Whitaker in a small but cool role as the athlete, as well as an appearance by a 17 year-old unknown named Nicolas Coppola, (who would later become Nicolas Cage) but it is real quick as I barely recall seeing him in the film…but he’s there. Lastly, Jennifer Jason Leigh plays the main role here, as the fresh faced and lovely Stacy Hamilton, Brad’s sister, and she gets herself in and then out of trouble with different boys. The music is pure 80’s trash, the Go-Go’s, the Cars and Oingo Boingo are among the artists featured on the soundtrack. First-time screenwriter Cameron Crowe of ALMOST FAMOUS fame wrote this classic, an inside look into the lives of American teens living in the 1980’s, the decade of bad fashion (Pat Benatar look-alikes abound here) and bad music (I generalize, some music of the 80’s does rock, such as Depeche Mode for example). A sad note: by checking the credits of the film on IMDB.COM, I noticed a famous name from the recent news pages: Lana Clarkson, the actress found shot dead in record producer Phil Spector’s house in the summer of 2003, she had a small and non-speaking part in this film as Mr. Vargas’ gorgeous wife. It was funny because Mr. Vargas looks quite creepy in the film, and then we see his wife, a model look-alike and that is what is so funny, no one expected him to have a wife like that!
Audio Commentary by Director Amy Heckerling and Screenwriter Cameron Crowe: A very informative and entertaining commentary by two key members of the film's production. A lot of cool facts come out about the behind the scenes of the film.
Hilarious Documentary: Reliving Our Fast Times at Ridgemont High: A forty-minute long retrospective featuring the key actors and cast of the movie, talking about how they got their roles, who they based their characters on and more along the same vein. A lot of focus on casting.
Totally Cool Hangouts of Ridgemont High: A Video Map: A look into the different locations used in the filming of the movie. Boring feature, five minutes long.
If you lived through the eighties as a teenager or even as a tween, then this movie might hold some fond memories for you as it did for me. It is amazing fun to see these famous actors so young, I mean Jennifer Jason Leigh looks like a kid, and I guess she was one then, as were the other up and coming famous faces. The extra features are cool, but they could’ve been cooler, if they had tried. I don’t really buy these films for the extras anyway, so for me it didn’t make a difference. A fun, light-hearted romp inside the minds and lives of some fun-loving and mixed up kids living in the 1980’s. If you enjoy other teen movies from the same time period, such as Pretty in Pink, Sixteen Candles or Some Kind of Wonderful, then rent or even buy this famously beloved film for yourself although be forewarned that out of all the titles I mentioned, Fast Times is without a doubt the edgiest and most honest teen comedy of them all.