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All throughout the decade of pencil-thin neckties and Pat Benatar look-alikes, various films came along that served to embody the times. "Valley Girl" (which introduced us to Nicholas Cage) and "Secret Admirer" were just a drop in the proverbial bucket. Amy Heckerling's "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" was the textbook definition of life as a teenager in the eighties and remains so to this day. The story was brought to life in a very unique way that hasn't been duplicated since:
There was no actual plot to speak of. This was just...High School.
It's a film about a group of kids looking for love, status, or a good buzz. The film was nothing more than that, and it didn't pretend to be more. In addition, Cameron Crowe's script made you *care* about what these kids went through as if their individual situations were happening to us (as they may very well have). It's almost a crime that a sequel was never made, although a mediocre TV series was spawned. Armed with a cast of characters that struck a chord with all of us (primarily because we knew someone in High School who acted just like them), and a soundtrack that reeked of the Mark Goodman-J.J. Jackson era of MTV, this film stands as a perfect portrait of a decade a lot of us say we'd like to forget....shortly before brushing the dust off an old Night Ranger cassette and indulging in a guilty pleasure.
A fast-paced film with its share of laughs, Fast Times also takes time to sensitively handle many of the tough issues teens face. Abortion, trust, abandonment and sexual fears are all dealt with fairly and believably. An interesting snapshot into the world of teenagers--the great thing about this film is that it's not too stereotypically Californian. It could have been set anywhere in Canada or USA and still have been just as accurate. In addition, there are many scenes that will just have you doubled over with laughter--the carrot scene, as well as the interaction between rebel Sean Penn and angry Mr.Hand are just fantastic.
Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)
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.
Just like "American Graffiti", you not only will see a timeless
classic, but you will also see the breeding ground for many of today's
greatest actors. Sean Penn, Anthony Edwards, Eric Stoltz, Phoebe Cates,
Jennifer Jason Leigh and Forrest Whitaker all appeared in this film in
the early stages of their careers. Even Oscar winner Nicolas Cage
(appearing under his real surname of Copolla) was in this film, though
in a very small role. This film was a glimpse into the future at some
of the actors who would become major stars in film and television.
As for the film itself, it pretty much was a look at how high school really was in the eighties with all the pressures from sex, the cliques and, of course, drugs. In fact, the Catholic high school I went to was pretty much a carbon copy of Ridgemont. The film also manages to blend comedy with drama as it shows how high school was and still pretty much is. This film is definitely a classic.
: I was encouraged to see this because it was hailed as one of the best
`teen comedies', a genre revived more recently by `American Pie'. This is
amusing but also touching tale of a bunch of teenagers caught between
childhood and adulthood (as teenagers tend to be..).
The characters are, naturally, disparate (they always are). You've got the geek, the tender one, the surfing one, the `cool cat' one, et cetera. All these stock types can be bland but, when done well, really flesh out a movie. As in `American Pie', this is an example of the combination working to good effect. The issues dealt with, mild enough by today, were quite controversial for its time. They touch on concepts of underage sex, drugs, employment and so on and their relevance still resonates - despite its founding in 80s culture, the movie still has something to actually say. Cameron Crowe's script - based on his own book - is sharp. The characters actually have a depth (rather than being a one line joke as it is too often) and the humour is gentle, rather than of the bodily-fluid nature. The film is never preachy, merely saying, `This is how it is' and moving on. The structure is fairly conventional - follow a set of characters over a long period, and see how they fare in a final big event, but again that's okay.
Acting is quite good here, especially considering the genre. This is of course helped by some of these actors, such as Sean Penn and Nicholas Cage, having gone on to do bigger and better things with their talents. They all have a warmth and even Mike (Robert Romanus), who could appear sleazy if portrayed poorly, comes across as an ultimately affable man who is a good guy. The non-teen cast, principally the teacher Mr. Hand (Ray Walston) are all good as well and the only problem I may have is the occasional eighties styling (principally the haircuts and outfits) which tend to make me feel one step removed from the characters (but that's not a fault of the actors).
`Fast Times at Ridgemont High' surprised me with its depth. I had expected farce, but I got some genuine thought and characterisation, along with the requisite humour. It's not quite the laugh-fest I expected but it was good viewing. It still has meaning for today, although time has dulled its sharpness somewhat. Not a must, but certainly - given its short length - a good maybe. 6.9/10.
I was a few years out of high school when this came out, and really hit
close to home for me. After I saw it, I looked up some of my old friends,
most of them also saw it too, and we said to each other, "that's
Many of the characters were a lot like the people I went to school with. I knew my share of stoners, studs, and girls who getting guys wasn't the biggest hang up in their life. Even today, I can sit, and watch this and I get fond memories of my old friends, and the fun we used to have.
This was made during the post-disco, pre-greed era of the 80s that was far too short. I'm surprised to find out this movie is still popular considering it is far from being politically correct. I'll admit, I wouldn't want my kids to some of the things these high school kids did, but it is a reminder how much fun the era was.
This movie is one of my all time 80s favorites. All kinds of stars in this one. Totally depicts high school teens in the early 80s Fur Shure! Lots of comedy - little bit of drama - whole lot of sex. Sean Penn as the stoner surfer dude is the funniest role in his career. Phoebe Cates , was just becoming a known star. Jennifer Jason Leigh totally looks her part as a teen virgin and you can also see Nancy Wilson (guitarist of the band HEART) here in her tiny cameo role. Love this early 80s classic.Own it.Learn it. Live it...
Almost 22 years after it's release this movie still remains to be
great. Amy Heckerling gave us another hit in the 90's Clueless so
it's no doubt that this too has become a cult classic.
This movie being a high school movie evolving around teenagers, though made in the 80's, contained all the elements that a horny teenage movie would have topless women, pot smoking, masturbation, cheating on tests, virginity losing and all that sex talk and quite obviously teen pregnancy!!! However they were not extensively used unnecessarily with the intention to make people laugh they were used at the right time and were very funny.
Sean Penn was excellent that was quite the performance as Jeff Spicoli especially now considering he is an Oscar winner that's quite the long road he has traveled.
This was a great teenager movie and for people who just love high school movies this movie should next on their lit.
Well, for a comedy its true. I'm only 19, just finished high school,
and I live in Australia and many of the aspects rings true for me as it
does for almost anybody that you talk to that grew up in that era of
Many aspects of the movie are absolutely hilarious, but sometimes a few of the smaller jokes miss their mark and you will only notice the joke and laugh on another viewing, which I strongly recommend in doing so. The characters are all great, but are all surpassed by Jeff Spicoli, portrayed by Sean Penn in one of his first roles, and his surfer character has been imitated many times but never bested (yes, Bill & Ted are ranked at 2nd) and he steals almost every scene he was in.
In the movie, you'll see some of the most accurate depictions of sex in a teen comedy (which caused the movie to be quite censored) and it downplays the Hollywood glitz of it all by portraying a girl lose her virginity in a dirty used baseball dugout covered in graffiti, and then complaining it hurt the next day... one of the characters masturbating while a very enticing dream sequence occurs, only to be disturbed by the object of the dream... and even a sex scene where the teenaged boy cums early after a few seconds, which ends up getting the girl pregnant because of no condom use.
Its these kinda portrayals of teenage life that I'm glad Hollywood makes movies, and I know when I have some kids of my own, I'll be showing this movie to them first above any other teen movies like American Pie and such... to show them what the real world can be like, while still keeping it in a comedy situation.
Recommendation: See this movie... numerous times, its great, its funny... its real.
Fast Times at Ridgemont High is a quality film. It's over 20 years old
and has become one of those iconic teen movies and it's pretty easy to
see why. It has everything you would expect; the bad hair, the bad
clothes, the bad music, teenage awkwardness...all the clichés and
stereotypes that we've seen repeated in basically every teen movie
since then. And it has Sean Penn playing a stoner surfer. Sean. Penn.
I'm pretty sure this movie is funnier now just because Sean Penn has
had a successful career as a proper dramatic actor, and he plays the
ultimate surfer dude perfectly. The grudge between himself and Mr Hand
(Ray Walston) is great and probably produces the best (or at least
funniest) moments of the film.
All in all, Fast Times is fun. It might be because it's dated, cheesy, and clichéd, but it still does the job and it is entertaining.
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