Follows a group of high school students growing up in southern California, based on the real-life adventures chronicled by Cameron Crowe. Stacy Hamilton and Mark Ratner are looking for a love interest, and are helped along by their older classmates, Linda Barrett and Mike Damone, respectively. The center of the film is held by Jeff Spicoli, a perpetually stoned surfer dude who faces off with the resolute Mr. Hand, who is convinced that everyone is on dope. Written by
Rick Gregory <email@example.com>
Cameron Crowe's script for `Fast Times at Ridgemont High' has totally held up in the nearly 20 years since it's release, in its portrayal of teenage life. Virtually plotless, the movie just follows the stories of a group of teenagers as they go about life in high school. And like so many 80's teen movies, it rightfully takes place for quite a bit of its run at the local mall. I find this movie to be extremely realistic, even in its somewhat exaggerated depictions of what some of the characters do (Jeff Spicoli ordering a pizza in the middle of class, or Charles Jefferson's winning of the football game by venting his anger at the school that supposedly trashed his car). But this is, after all, a movie, and a pretty good one too. And check out all those kick-ass 80's arcade games! *drools*
I'll try and give my best recollection of each of the main character's basic storylines. Let's see, Jeff Spicoli is the ideal surfer dude, empty-headed, sporting Hawaiian shirts, and talking in irresistible slang. He dislikes the uptightness of school, particularly personified by his history teacher, Mr. Hand. The two begin to have a battle of the wills. Brad Hamilton is a senior who goes from one fast-food job to the next, who has no idea what he is supposed to do with his life, even though everyone, including his guidance counselor, expects a lot from him. Stacy Hamilton is a guy-crazy chick who is sensitive but who wants sex and attention, leading her first into the arms of an older man, and eventually into those of Mike Damone, a cocky hustler, when the only guy who genuinely cares for her is nerdy Mark Ratner. Damone is a shady character, a charming sweet-talker who scalps tickets and does what he can for a quick buck. He tries to help Ratner score with Stacy, but then steals the girl. Ratner is an insecure nerd-type who is good at heart, who works at the mall movie theater, and who just wants his shot with Stacy. He finds himself broken-hearted when he uncovers Damone's betrayal. Linda Barrett is Stacy's best friend and confidante, a sexy, confident girl who is constantly moving from one guy to the next and sort of becomes a quasi role model for Stacy. That's the basic premise for all of what goes on.
Probably the most famous line is that uttered by Sean Penn's Jeff Spicoli: `Aloha, Mr. Hand.' I'm not sure if it's the Hawaiian talk or the idiocy of the teacher's name that has made this line so supremely quoted over the years. Anyone who has seen the movie recognizes it immediately. I can say immediately that I have never, ever seen Penn play a part like this, and I don't think I've ever seen a surfer personified with such grace. Even though the conflict between Spicoli and Mr. Hand is light-hearted, I always wanted to see them having a fist-fight in the halls. Stacy's story is actually pretty serious.she winds up being the victim of a teenage pregnancy, which is not often addressed in a teen comedy. Her eventual realization that Mark is the guy for her seems natural and not scripted. And thankfully, they're only starting to date by the end of the movie, and not getting engaged or married or something equally stupid as in some lesser movies. Damone is such a weird off-beat character, and his friendship with Ratner so unusual, that I have to give Cameron Crowe credit for making it all work. Brad seems to have the least to do with the other characters but as an unsuccessful go-getter, I can definitely relate to him.
In conclusion, this is one of my favorite 80's teen movies. It goes a lot deeper than `The Breakfast Club' and its adult characters, though not well-sculpted, are treated with more warmth and humanity than many of teen comedies. It's a required viewing for teens, young adults, and anyone with a fondness for 80's culture.
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