Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982) Poster

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Required viewing for surviving the eighties
fourque29 August 1998
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.
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I wish I'd gone to Ridgemont High
Criz26 February 1999
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.
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The 80's Teen Culture at Its Finest
TheExaltedOne2 April 2004
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.

Grade: A
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The American Graffiti of the 1980's.
Brian Washington22 October 2002
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.
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The American Graffiti of the 80s
super marauder1 January 2003
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 us!"

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.
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Quite the time
sajeeva sinniah21 November 2004
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.
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"No Shirt , No Shoes , NO DICE"
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...
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Fairly Funny Time at Ridgemont High
Aidan McGuinness2 November 2002
: 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 an 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.
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The most real depiction of high school life!
lordhart3 July 2004
Warning: Spoilers
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 America's history.

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.

Rating: 9/10

Recommendation: See this movie... numerous times, its great, its funny... its real.
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Awesome! Totally awesome! All right, Hamilton!
Mike Keating15 March 2006
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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Spicoli Rules!
george.schmidt13 March 2003
FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH (1982) **** Sean Penn, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Judge Reinhold, Phoebe Cates, Ray Walston, Robert Rowanus, Brian Becker, Eric Stoltz, Anthony Edwards, Forest Whitaker, Vincent Schiavelli, Nicolas Cage. Hilarious and accurate depiction of life in 1980s high school that ranks among the best comedies of angst, anomie and above all - uncertainty - including "American Graffiti" and "Dazed and Confused". Vignettes with a fine ensemble of up and coming stars particularly Leigh (who's never been so innocent) and Penn as stoned surfer Jeff Spicoli ("People on ludes should not drive!" "Hey, Bud, huh, let's party!") is a comic gem of a performance. Great soundtrack and stable direction by Amy Heckerling and all too-knowing screenplay by future filmmaker Cameron Crowe ("Say Anything..."). Best bit: Mr. Hand convinced all are on drugs. Look sharp for Crowe's wife, rock singer Nancy Wilson, as the hot babe Reinhold tries to impress in traffic wearing his fast food pirate outfit.
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High School for Actors (and Writers)
tedg5 March 2001
Warning: Spoilers
Spoilers herein.

Here we have a film for kids that may have resonated in its day. But now it is only of historical interest. But what interest! So many actors got a start here.

Cage and Whittaker are hardly there so not much interesting to see. The two really interesting ones are Penn and Leigh. I've seen this film, `Sweet and Lowdown' and `The Pledge' in quick succession. Of male actors working today, Penn and Downey are in a class by themselves. Downey being more internally focused. Penn likes to let us watch, weaving his own watching, his display of himself and his display of his character into a single performance.

You can see him doing that here. I recommend you get the DVD and listen to the comments of writer and director. After nearly twenty years, these guys still apparently don't know what Penn is doing. He's graduated and they are still in high school.

Jennifer Jason Leigh fascinates. I think she is every bit as serious an actress as Penn. But she has an instrument that holds her back -- being a woman actor carries a curse because there are fewer risks you can take in how you move your body. Think why we don't have a female Jim Carrey.

Lesser actors like, say, Jeanne Tripplehorn have a more appealing instrument, so we the audience accepts more effect with less talent. The contrast is so much greater here with Leigh working next to Cates. Just as all Americans are inescapably racist in some way, we all have this high-school level barrier of archetypes of woman that limits our skills as dramatic viewers. (Sissy Spacek, another effective actress, suffered from this same problem I think.)

I'm sure the dynamic about how actors find intelligent roles has much to do with small town politics, but Leigh has given us a `Mrs Parker,' and a reporter in `Hudsucker' that is every bit as self-referential as Penn's Surfer Bud. The problem is us I'm afraid. We need to graduate.

Also. A lesson for P T Anderson. Crowe here writes the characters first (they are based on real people) then creates a series of small episodes. This works when the point is to evoke a general feel as in the porn industry `Boogie Nights,' here, the rock industry in `Almost Famous.' But usually that environmental impression has much less impact than other narrative approaches can accomplish in drama. Watch this film and you are reminded that its only charm is the evocation of an environment, which has since been mined numb.

Better to develop into real drama. Crowe hasn't since this. Let's hope PT does.
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that was my skull.
triple823 December 2003
If I was so depressed I needed to watch a good funny movie to get me out of it and I could choose one movie in all the world it very might be be this one. Fast Times is such a darn great classic that I've almost not wanted to comment because what could I possibly say to do it justice?

Anybody growing up in the early 80's has probebly heard of this and most have seen it(though I actually know some who HAVEN'T!!). In fact most people in the world have probebly heard of it, its pretty legendary. Fast times is the ultimate, the ULTIMATE and alltime best high school movie.And many of the "child stars" in this have gone on to become superstars, particularly Sean Penn and Jennifer Jason Leigh.

I've probebly viewed this movie more often then almost any other and as I've grown up my enthusiasm hasn't dimmed-even at parties-many times its-"lets watch FAST TIMES AT RICHMOND HIGH". It's the ultimate fun movie.

The only other teen movie that I think is as good as this is "Clerks" but Fast Times to me still kind of beats it, because its so much a part of history I can't even remember where I was when I first saw it-it's sort of always been there and personifes the good time high school party movie-even if high school wasn't exactly like that much of the time-well this IS the movies...LOL.

But who HASN'T known a "spicoli" in their time? Or a "stasy"? Or even A Mr Hand??!! I sure have-I think possibly my favorite was Stasy's brother Brad, he was so QUIETLY comedic he made the movie!!

I would love to see a part two of this-the fast times kids as adults-in the business world!!! Married with kids! Oh man what a trip that would be and I'm sure it would sell a few million tickets at least-why haven't they done it yet?

Seriously, even though the kids look younger and younger to me each time I view this, (which only shows how much OLDER I'm getting!)Fast Times remains an ultimate favorite of myself and just about everyone else I know who's seen it. Hey Mike got any blue oyster cult tickets??!!
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A classic film of the 1980's.
jeffman5200128 December 2004
"Fast Times At Ridgemont High"is an all time classic look at high school in the 1980's. The cast is awesome.

The lives of the characters are really awesome, in school, we all have those times in our lives where we do a lot of crazy things in and out of school. The story starts out in the mall, seeing some of the kids who work there like Linda Barrett,played super by the beautiful Phoebe Cates (Gremlins 1 and 2, Private School, and Lace 1 and 2) and Linda's friend, Stacy Hamilton, played by another beauty, Jennifer Jason-Leigh (Single White Female, Deloris Claibourne, and Grandview U.S.A.) who is a girl who is easy,they both work at the pizza place in the mall. Across form the pizza place is where Mark Ratner a.k.a. "Rat", played by Brian Backer (Police Academy 4 and Meatballs)who has the hots for Stacy but is shy. Rat works at the movie theatre across from the pizza place. Mark Ratner gets some advice about how to get Stacy from his friend, Mike Damone, played by Robert Romanus (Bad Medicine, Fame, and Booker)who is a scalper, sells a lot of concert tickets. Mike Damone is the type who can get women easily.

The other characters in this movie are great, Jeff Spicoli, played superbly by Sean Penn, he is the ultimate character in this film. Jeff Spicoli is a stoner who is into surfing. Spicoli has to deal with the history teacher, Mr. Hand, played by an awesome actor, Ray Walston (Johnny Dangerously, The Stand, and Picket Fences). Mr. Hand thinks that everyone of his students is on dope, he is so talkative about his "Time",,lol.

Brad Hamilton, Stacy's brother, played super by Judge Reinhold (Beverly Hills Cop 1, 2, and 3, Gremlins, and Vice Versa). Brad has had 3 jobs in this movie, first job is at "All American Burger", gets fired for telling a customer off, A seafood restaurant, and his final job and a convenient store. Brad's senior year at Ridgemont has be somewhat good and bad, his girl friend,Lisa,played by Amanda Wyss(Better Off Dead,A Nightmare on Elm Street)breaks up with him.

Charles Jefferson, played by Forest Whitaker (Good Morning Vietnam, Platoon, and Species)is a football player who owns a 1970's Firebird,which gets wrecked by Jeff Spicoli, who was driving it with Jefferson's younger brother, played by Stanley Davis Jr., on their way to a party. Spicoli has the car towed in front of the school and writes "Lincoln Rules" and other stuff, making it look like the rival high school,Lincoln's football team trashed it. Charles Jefferson pounds the crap out of Lincoln's team in the football game.

Mike Damone makes a move on Stacy, and they have sex.Later on,Rat finds out and is mad and Mike for doing that, they nearly get into a fight. Stacy is pregnant and goes to get an abortion. Jeff Spicoli gets a visit from Mr. Hand and quizzes him on some history, they both get to like each other. The dance at the school went good, Mike Damone and Mark Ratner make up and are friends again. Brad is at work at the Mi-T-Mart, Jeff Spicoli is there getting a few things and has to go to the bathroom, a robber comes in and tries to hold up the place, but Jeff Spicoli distracts the robber and gets hot coffee thrown in his face, things work out for the better for everyone.

The movie really has some many funny moments in it, the cast is really super. One of the great films that came out in 1982.

The supporting cast also in the film are Scott Thomson (Police Academy 1, 3, and 4, and Ghoulies) as Brad's friend, Arnold. The late Vincent Schiavelli (Ghost, Night Shift, and Better Off Dead) as the biology teacher, Mr. Vargas. Zoe Kelli Simon, who's stage name is Kelli Maroney (Night Of The Comet and Chopping Mall), plays a cheerleader. The late Lana Clarkson(Amazon Women On The Moon,and Scarface)plays Mrs. Vargas.

You will also see a younger Nicolas Cage (Valley Girl, Con Air, and Face Off)as Brad's other friend. A younger Anthony Edwards (Revenge Of The Nerds 1 and 2,ER,and Gotcha) as Jeff Spicoli's friend. Eric Stoltz (Mask, Pulp Fiction, and Some Kind Of Wonderful) as Jeff Spicoli's other friend. James Russo(Beverly Hills Cop, The Postman, and Extremities) as the robber of the convenient store.

The soundtrack to this movie is awesome. Songs like "Speeding" by The Go Go's, "Somebody's Baby" by Jackson Browne, "Love Rules" by Don Henley. "Fast Times At Ridgemont High" by Sammy Hagar. "I Don't Know" by Jimmy Buffett. "Goodbye, Goodbye" by Oingo Boingo, "Fast Times (The Best Years Of Our Lives)" by Billy Squier, "Raised On The Radio" by The Ravyns. I have the soundtrack at home, it is awesome, I recommend getting it.

I give this movie 2 thumbs up and 10/10 stars.
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The best parts of this movie are between the lines
backseatproductions27 August 2007
This movie is a classic. it is such a classic, that when people use the word 'classic' to describe a movie, the benchmark for that distinction should be something which stems from this movie. ironically, 'classic' is a slang term i would expect to come right out of the mouth of SPICOLI, the movie's lovable surfer/stoner whose performance was only grazed and approximated by BRAD PITT in TRUE ROMANCE. but i digress.

the most important thing about this movie to me, and it's been a number of years since i've seen it, is what lies between the lines. CROWE is an awesome writer. the character DAMONE spouts one liners about chicks and broads like he's been getting' it on since kindergarten. but an acute eye will notice a new swagger to his walk the day after his pool house romp with STACY, which anyone who's ever lost their virginity will tell you can only mean one thing. Did anyone catch this was his first time?

and then there's LINDA BARRETT, who is allegedly dating a 40 year old pilot or something and pedantically informs STACY that their love-making sessions typically last about 45 minutes and they always climax together. am i the only person who recognizes that she has never had sex and has learned everything she thinks she knows from the pages of COSMOPOLITAN?

If it's been a while since you've indulged, you should watch this movie again. hell, I should watch this movie again -- if only to find other brilliant subtle aspects which permeate what is possibly the most quintessential high school movie of all times. how cool would it be to have the distinction of having been a part of such a thing? my hat is off to you CAMERON, and AMY HECKERLING as well (along with all the on-screen talent). Perhaps it requires the sensitivity of a female director to convey the discreet nuances of what appears on the surface to be an otherwise obvious movie, giving it depth, and vaulting it to the esteemed level of a CLASSIC everyone should see.
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Ultimate 80s teen movie...but how good, really?
Bill Slocum15 December 2003
People talk about 'Fast Times At Ridgemont High' being the representative slice-of-life teen comedy for the early 1980s in the same way 'American Graffiti' depicts the early 1960s and 'Dazed And Confused' the mid-70s. 'Fast Times' deserves special kudos because it came out when the times in question were still taking place - in fact 'Fast Times' would go on to define its era as the must-see comedy for those who made up the movie's subject matter back in late '82 and early '83.

Here's my problem: It's not much of a comedy. Sure, it has funny moments, but it's very downbeat too much of the time. The two main female characters, played by Jennifer Jason-Leigh (Stacy) and Phoebe Cates (Linda), give solid performances but have hardly a true laugh between them, other than Cates' simple action of opening a door. The male characters have their funny scenes, too, but in-between acts of such casual cruelty and harshness that it really doesn't compensate. Here's something to ponder: The funniest performance in this film is by a guy whose only other comedies were 'Shanghai Surprise' and 'We're No Angels.' Sean Penn is very good as Spicoli, but he's got the one character you are encouraged to laugh at, him and Ray Walston's Mr. Hand, of course, both hilarious. 'Jefferson was saying if we don't get some cool rules pronto, we'll be bogus, too!' When they aren't in the film, my attention drifts. As a comedy, it's alternately funny and flailing. As a drama, this is an afterschool special with swear words and nudity.

'Fast Times' is fun to watch simply for the time-capsule elements. Writer Cameron Crowe really had his ear to the ground as he took measure of a LA-area high school in the guise of a student, and director Amy Heckerling has a clearly sympathetic understanding for the tribal rites of the young. The score is warmed-over '70s mellow guitar rock already past its prime, but offers great songs, none better than Jackson Browne's last great hit, 'Somebody's Baby,' which had its first release on the 'Fast Times' soundtrack (and might be subtitled 'Stacey's Sex Theme' as it shows up whenever she gets it on.) Heckerling doesn't gloss up the sex (the first such scene takes place in a grimy concrete bunker with the memorable graffito 'Surf Nazis' over Stacy's head), and that's to her credit. The film's grittiness works in this way for me because the early '80s seem on retrospect a less innocent time than the earlier eras depicted in the other teen films, the first time in which sex between young people could be truly casual while traditional religious and social strictures seemed to fall mute. In that way, she hits the right notes.

But Heckerling accepts this casualness to the point of promulgating it. We see Stacy unabashedly learning about oral sex with a carrot and getting an abortion in which her main source of pain seems to be about getting a ride and money from the guy who knocked her up. With AIDS just around the corner, and a host of moral issues surrounding unbridled sex among minors, I find myself wanting to scream at the screen like Mr. Hand: 'What are you people, on dope?'

That's a personal issue a lot of 'Fast Times' viewers won't join me in feeling. What I think is a broader problem is the shallowness of the story lines and the characters, how lacking in deeper resonance they are. As Heckerling points out in her joint DVD commentary with Crowe, Mark (Rat) Ratner is someone who finds sex as difficult as others find trigonometry. He's a nerd, and I can relate, so how is it the attractive, sexually active Stacey chooses him and seeks a relationship with him? Hot girls don't chase nerds, simple as that. The film might have tried to flesh out this relationship and offer some explanation why else she likes him other than his awkward smile, his obvious desire, and his willingness to offer her some encouragement after Mr. Vargas' morgue demonstration, but you are left with a couple of half-finished, awkward conversations and the sense that they had to wind up together because they are the lead actors.

'Fast Times' is a fun film to watch, but thin as the soles on a pair of checkered loafers. It's the definitive teen film of its time, but 'Valley Girl' and 'Sixteen Candles' have better narratives, 'The Breakfast Club' more interesting characters, and 'Last American Virgin' a stronger ending. If it was just Sean Penn and Ray Walston sitting at Perry's Pizza for ninety minutes, in a sort of 'My Dinner With Spicoli,' I think 'Fast Times' would have been more fun.
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For those that think today's teen comedies are great, this is what you are missing.
Dan Grant16 May 2000
I have read many reviews in this forum by people that can only be young and uninformed, that claim that movies such as Drive Me Crazy, Here On Earth, 10 Things I Hate About You and such are the best films around that are about teenagers and high school. That is not a stupid opinion, only an opinion of someone that has never bothered to rent those comedies from the section of the local video store that gathers dust. Films like the ones mentioned are squalid imitations produced and written by misguided souls that are doing their best to cash in on a genre that has been dead for years. And yet they succeed. But if you want to check out and admire the pioneers of the business, you have to go back to the Encyclopedia of the 80's and look for names like Hughes, Heckerling, Linson, Kouf, Boaz Davidson and so on. There you will find films with titles such as The Breakfast Club, Secret Admirer, The Wild Life, Mischief, Last American Virgin and Fast Times At Ridgemont High. Disguising today's excuse for teen comedies as honest attempts to delve into the psyche of today's youth is nothing but chicanery and should be uncovered for what it really is.

Just a cheap knock off.

Fast Times is the ultimate high school comedy that features everything from subtle observations like kids sniffing freshly photocopied paper to more overt gestures like teens and young sex. The films was written by a young Cameron Crowe, who has gone on to be famous with films like Say Anything and Jerry Maguire. But back in the early 80's he returned to high school in cognito to observe teens and their rituals and the result was his book based on his studies. Some of the students were so angered at his film because they said that his characters were to much like the ones he knew and hung out with. And if that is true, can you imagine what it was like to know a guy like Jeff Spicolli? Here is one of the all time funniest characters that has now been imitated to the point of banality. Here is a guy that wants nothing more than to have sex, smoke some weed, drink some beer and squeak by in his World History class. Oh yea, and surfing is his passion. I don't think we were prepared for a character like Spicolli because I have never seen an imitation of him done quite right. He is the perfect caricature of the 80's surfer dude. As one of his classmates says, " This guys been stoned since the third grade. "

If the Spicolli character is the comic genius of Fasttimes, the rest of the cast is the reality. There is a pallet of interesting characters played by young and energetic, soon to be famous stars that started their careers in this film. Jennifer Jason Leigh, Phoebe Cates, Judge Reinhold, Forrest Whitaker, Sean Penn and even lesser known faces like Anthony Edwards, Eric Stoltz and Nicolas Cage all started in this film. Look at where they are today.

Fast Times is the blueprint of any film that wants to capitalize on the teen market. There is well thought out comedy, painstaking relationships, the rah-rah bravado of high school sports, the essential prom night, sex, drugs, rock and roll and of course the excitement of working at the coolest place in the mall.

This is one of the funniest yet most poignant films about high school and growing up. If you think the Godfather is the Bible of all mafia movies, Halloween is the godfather of horror films and Raiders of the Lost Ark is the pioneer of action films, then you will understand that Fast Times at Ridgemont High is THE original high school flick.

For those who think any film released in the late 90's or early 00's ( with the exception of American Pie ) is the best you can get, then please do yourself a favour, see this film. There is no contest. Every idea in todays films has been borrowed from the great ones from only a couple of decades ago. Look no further than this great movie. It is the one to watch.

10 out of 10
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Unbelievably overrated.
joe_lvn16 July 2007
I saw this movie when it first came out in 1982. I was in my early twenties at the time so I could "understand" the things in this film (basically stereotypes). I didn't like the film then and the only reason I would suggest that anyone see it now is for '80's nostalgia. I always thought that this was an empty film pretending to be funny, which it isn't, and trying to have some kind of message. It's nothing but a cheap, trashy, BAD bad taste (as opposed to good bad taste, which I like) teen exploitation movie masquerading as something special. From it's reputation, one would think this is some work of brilliance. The characters were shallow and dull and I could never figure out how people love the ridiculous stoned out surfer character so much.

Now...if this film had not taken itself seriously or, perhaps, been written as a put on or satire of high school or even teen movies and teen pop culture in general, circa 1982, such as the brilliant "Lord Love a Duck" did back in 1966, it very likely would have been something much better or even truly great.

In my opinion, if you want to see something teen oriented which is far superior, see "Heathers" or definitely "Rock'n'Roll High School" or even "Ferris Bueller's Day Off".
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disturbing depiction of teens as numb & dumb
crispy_comments22 January 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Reviewers who call this a great comedy, must be kidding. This is one of the most depressing movies I've ever seen. I can't tell if the filmmakers intended to make a social commentary on disaffected youth. But surely we're not meant to laugh at the sight of emotionally detached, morally empty teens?

Oh, I'm aware that teenagers do stupid things, and I'm not appalled by the portrayal of drug use, sex, etc. These things happen. I *am* appalled by the notion that life-changing events such as losing one's virginity, getting pregnant, or having an abortion can be considered "no big deal". These characters don't think before they act, and they don't seem to *feel* anything afterward. This is what disturbs me about "Fast Times", and this is what I (thankfully) can't relate to.

It's interesting that TV shows like "Dawson's Creek" were criticized for their supposedly unrealistic depiction of teens with large vocabularies, who made a "big deal" out of everything, and discussed their feelings. However, at least those kids *had* thoughts and feelings! As an intelligent, sensitive kid, so did I. Guess I didn't have the universal teen experience. But personally I'd rather read or watch a story about adolescents who overanalyze and feel deeply, than one where kids act like unthinking zombies. Shouldn't storytellers encourage growth and depth, rather than perpetuating a shallow way of life?

Apparently Cameron Crowe went undercover in a high school and based his story on real events, which, frankly, scares me. Was this truly the '80s generation? Is this the current generation? And when making a film, is it enough to hold up a mirror to reflect society? Or shouldn't the filmmaker go a step further to comment on what he sees? Maybe even try to make the world a better place? True, many viewers are turned off by films that seem "preachy", but if writers/directors are skilled enough, I believe they can get a message across effectively. The best stories have a *point*, a lesson to be learned. I cannot figure out what "Fast Times" is trying to achieve.

Other than to gross me out. For instance:

A 15 year old girl loses her virginity to an older man she barely knows (who *must* be able to tell she's inexperienced and underage, but doesn't seem to care), outside, while staring at graffiti. Is this supposed to be a comment on how degrading and meaningless sex can be? On the fact that first times are rarely enjoyable, especially if you don't feel anything for the other person? A warning to choose your partner wisely? Perhaps, but it's certainly unpleasant to witness. And difficult to understand why she goes through with it. Stacy moves on to her next sexual partner like she's changing shoes, then casually asks the boy to pay for her abortion, as if she's asking him to buy her a soda. Is this meant to be *humourous* or is it just bad acting? The aftermath of the abortion is also treated like it's "no big deal", when in fact it would be a painful process, both emotionally and physically. Should I ignore that and simply praise the film for being brave enough to let a character go through with an abortion when movies/TV tend to push the pro-life agenda? I'm pro-choice, but I still find it unsettling that "Fast Times" seems to be sending the message that making this choice, and going through the actual physical ordeal, is as easy as pie.

Is this movie condoning/glorifying casual sex, casual...everything? Or just...showing it...without taking a moral stance? If so, the filmmakers might be as emotionally detached and ethically bereft as the characters! I have to wonder whether they didn't make their message (if there is one) clear, out of a desire to appeal to the masses, to avoid possibly alienating their target audience with anything too "preachy". Could be no noble intent here, merely the use of controversial topics/scenes for shock value, and to get attention/make money.

Was the ending a feel-good finale because the "nice guy/geek" gets the girl? The problem with that is, we never see her grow a brain or have an emotional epiphany about what/who she wants. Stacy just seems to let things happen to her. The conclusion feels as random, empty and pointless as the film in general.

I want to praise Phoebe Cates though. She took what could've been a clichéd, one-dimensional role (sexually-experienced, bad-influence best friend) and gave it depth. You can sense that she figured out her character's motivations, and it comes through in her performance. I was most impressed by her scenes, and don't know why Jennifer Jason Leigh gets more critical acclaim - there's nothing going on behind her eyes, and such a blank void/"innocence"/childlike mental state, only makes her sex scenes seem more exploitative. Unfortunately the film treats Phoebe as a sex object too, with that gratuitous fantasy scene. Phoebe was insecure and sought reassurance about her acting, only to be treated like a bimbo-model. I can understand why she quit the movie business, with all the degrading trash she had to do. Shame she wasn't given more opportunities to prove that she really could act! The other actors made no impression. I didn't find Sean Penn's stoner dude act amusing as it's reputed to be.

For the life of me I can't understand why "Fast Times At Ridgemont High" is hailed as hilarious or the ultimate teen movie. Ironically it evoked reactions in me that were lacking in the film itself, namely it made me THINK and FEEL (despair!) But if you want to laugh and feel good, I'd recommend these truly funny films:

good-natured goofy fun: ADVENTURES IN BABYSITTING (1987), CAN'T HARDLY WAIT (1998)

clever, satirical, dark humour: HEATHERS (1989), THE CRAFT (1996), SAVED! (2004)

great blend of realism & wish-fulfillment, relatable characters and psychological/sociological truth: THE BREAKFAST CLUB (1985), SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL (1987)
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>>>Blast times back in the day<<<
Benjamin Wolfe25 August 2007
Now, ah let's see...that's it 1982, wow! What a time to be alive and bumpin' around. Ronald Reagan in office, everyone was scared of the 'Reds'! Heck we were just out of the seventies practically, things were totally different dude. "Faasst Times at Ridgemeont High..writing on the wall" as Sammy Hagar, the red rocker belted out, in regard to a bunch of heinous teens, with hormonal issues. They thought they knew it turns out they were just out of their heads!! Sean Penn from everything I heard about the making of this was actually living in 'Spicoli' he said. Who would have thought, crazy Sean would have been this good, back then!? Surfin' lazy, Van Halen wannabe rocker who just wants a cool brew and some good 'bud' to share with a bud. This group of misfits that rounded out this little comedic HIGH-school whip of a movie, were new, wet behind the ears, pimpled and well..into everything, and the perfect fit for Ridgemont High School. I have seen this many times from when the theater opened it back in 82'. Still, it has the same feel as it had then. It's like the stoner's movie about nothing and for the masses in the high school cast that's where most ended up. No worries though, everyone learned a little something about high school, recreational drugs, beer, lust and maybe if they were fortunate...'life'. The portrayal of the lives of these teenage growing 'pains' was along what I saw in school back then, since I entered high school a year later. It was a different time and way of life then. The eighties had it all! This movie has a fantastic line up of talent. Who could forget Ray Walston as the irreverent and ever-anal Mr. Hand, always irritated with Jeff's behavior, no matter how cool Jeff would be trying to play it off. Mr. Hand asks Jeff as he enters class after the tardy bell, Mr.HAND: "Mr. Spicoli, why are you continually late to my class?" SPICOLI: (thinks, puzzled) "I DUNNO."

Mr. HAND: "Well class I am going to write his words on the chalk board for all to see." Mr.HAND:- "Mr. Hand will I pass you class? (without hesitation) Gee Mr. Spicoli...I don't know?"

Spicoli: "Huh huh huh, cool."

There is of course a ton more great comedic 'short-shots' in this one... The new digitally remastered DVD is especially good with bonus features to view. If you haven't seen this in a while it is a treat to behold. Ahh, the days of naive ignorance and a whole lot of fun!! Recommended for ex-high schoolers and current schoolers too. The Spirit bunny- cheer leaders had mondo spirit, so give me an 'F' give me an 'A' give me an 'S' give me a 'T' well, okay you get the rest, so go already and pick this classic up again and sit down plug in blast back to 19 hundred 82 two, light-up, drop-out and most of all enjoy the fast 'times'. (****)
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smatysia19 February 2001
This film really takes me back. A lot of it rang so true, even to my high school in Texas in the mid '70's. The basis seems to be that these children are facing too many adult pressures, trying to grow up too fast. I was that way, too. Although I didn't realize it at the time, it was a wonderful time to grow up. The war was over, as was the draft. It was a great time for sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll. It was before the twin scourges of AIDS and crack that turned society away from the personal freedoms (more or less) that were won earlier. The film is quite comedic, but also dips into rather edgy territory.

It was great seeing all these talented and (now) famous actors at the dawn of their careers. Enough has been said about Penn. There was Anthony Edwards with hair! Could be Judge Reinhold's best work. Ray Walston was perfect as Mr. Hand, very poignant in light of his recent death. Best of all, though, were the girls. Jennifer Jason Leigh was awesome. Her sweet, young, innocent look was perfect for Stacy. (She looked great naked, too!) And Pheobe Cates. She was, and actually still is, so beautiful. And her red bikini scene in Brad's fantasy will live forever. She has more than just beauty, though, tons of sweetness and charm.

I'm sure most everyone has seen this film. It is the quintessential high school film of the time.
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They've got the beat!
ShadySovereign23 January 2006
Warning: Spoilers
"Fast Times at Ridgemont High" is a very special film to me. It's the first high school movie that actually portrayed what REALLY went on inside the schools of the 1980's. What is seen in the movie is not only true and slightly disturbing, but also really funny in ironic ways.

The movie shows the interactions of a bunch of high school students, all of which are unforgettable. I was especially very fond of Jennifer Jason Leigh, since she gave a very realistic performance as a 15-year-old high school student who finally gets laid at the beginning of the movie (but later decides that she wanted a real relationship instead of just sex). Sean Penn's performance was arguably the least realistic, but he was hilarious as the doped-out high school dude. And Judge Reinhold (who later on co-starred in the "Beverly Hills Cop" films) was funny and likable as Jennifer Jason Leigh's older brother.

There are many great 80's songs featured in the soundtrack. The very first song, called "We Got the Beat", jump-starts the beginning of the film with a blast. Then later on we hear the song "Somebody's Baby" twice, when Jennifer's character has sex two times with different men. Although the song is a happy song, it can make the sex scenes awkward since Jennifer looked very young for her age. I always had to look away from the screen whenever Jennifer was naked, because she looked too cute! It was disturbing to see at first, but I got over it.

The only bad thing about the movie is that it's very short. But it can also be a good thing, since a shorter film means that people can watch it more times in a row. When I first got the DVD, I watched the movie 3 times in one day! It's one of the only movies that I can actually watch many times in a row.

Overall, this was a great high-school movie with lots of laughs and memorable moments. And despite the fact that some may get offended by the nudity and the short film duration, the movie will still remain as a cult classic in my book.

I give this film a 10/10.

P.S: Look out for early roles & cameos by Forest Whitaker and Nicholas Cage in this movie!)
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Funny, truthful and very much the best of breed 80's high school picture.
Peter Hayes1 February 2005
Teenagers start becoming aware of sex, relationships and the need to earn extra cash in this slice-of-life high-school tale.

A film that will probably not be done any justice by me or any better reviewer for the simple reason that so much of what goes on has been done so many times since. But I still believe this is the best schoolyard melodrama around and it still makes me laugh with its home truths and clever one lines.

("You want romance, we can't even get cable TV!")

Sean Penn is a standout as the stoned surfer who, sadly, lives nowhere near the sea. I don't believe any teacher would take time to go around anyone's house (as here) to continue the lessons, but it is a funny scene! What was presented here was taken as a model for other films that tried to boost up the sex, comedy or drama - but this film is a lesson in balance and stepping lightly that others missed. Nothing is too big a deal - not even abortion.

Fast Times was a lot of fun when I saw it twenty years ago and is still fun today. True many of the actors went on to do even better work, so it is great to see them when they still had their own front teeth and even a bit of puppy fat.

This is especially true of the great Jennifer Jason Leigh - one of the best American actresses of her generation. Not great here, simply very good.
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For Teenagers Only
Claudio Carvalho27 June 2015
In California, at Ridgemont High, a group of teenagers are looking for something as part of discoveries in their lives: the pothead Jeff Spicoli (Sean Penn), who is permanently stoned, dreams on becoming a great surfer in Hawaii. His history teacher Mr. Hand (Ray Walston) is giving hard time to him. The fifteen year-old virgin Stacy Hamilton (Jennifer Jason Leigh) wants to have sex and her friend Linda Barrett (Phoebe Cates) is her mentor. Her brother Brad Hamilton (Judge Reinhold) works at a fast-food and is paying for his Cadillac. He wants to break with his girlfriend Lisa (Amanda Wyss) now that he is senior to date other girls. The shy Mark 'Rat' Ratner (Brian Backer) is into Stacy and his friend Mike Damone (Robert Romanus) is his mentor. Along the semester, they have surprises and make discoveries about friendship and love.

"Fast Times at Ridgemont High" is a typical film for teenagers only; adults will certainly find it overrated, shallow and silly. The good points are the chance to see a generation of actors and actresses in the beginning of their careers. For example, this movie is the debut of Nicolas Coppola, a.k.a. Nicolas Cage with a brief participation. Another interesting point is how easy is to a fifteen year-old girl to have an induced abortion in a clinic; however, there is no message and the scene loses an opportunity to discuss a polemic theme. My vote is five.

Title (Brazil): "Picardias Estudantis" ("Knaveries from Students")
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"American Graffiti" for the 1980s Crowd.
tfrizzell6 July 2002
Funny and highly dramatic at the same time, "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" was released shortly before the AIDS scare of the 1980s. This is the last real film that deals with the innocence of adolescents in a world where risks were becoming greater and prices were becoming higher for younger age groups. Ridgemont is just a typical early-1980s high school in California. There are the pot-smoking surfer slackers, (Sean Penn, Anthony Edwards and Eric Stoltz), the shy and compassionate ticket-taker at the local movie theater (Brian Backer), the working class hot-shots (Judge Reinhold, Nicolas Coppola and Scott Thomson), the sneaky ticket-scalper (Rick Romanus), the all-world football player (Forest Whitaker) and then there are the naive young girls (Phoebe Cates and Jennifer Jason Leigh) who think they know everything, but do not know half of what they think they know. Their paths will sometimes cross and sometimes not in this comedy that is harsh due to its strong dramatic elements. Drug-abuse, under-age drinking, under-age sex, abortions, destruction of property, the list goes on. "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" pushes the envelope on growing up in America in the 1980s. Teens love the film because they relate to the silly situations shown here, while many older adults shy away because they do not want to open their eyes to what really goes on with America's youth. The film is an educational tool that is covered with a light candy shell. When you get to its core it is a somewhat disturbing film that is about any high school in the U.S.A. A revolutionary film that is almost a complete success, but does have many shortcomings admittedly. Sometimes the tastefulness of the film-makers must come into question here, but most things are warranted. And let there be a warning: the activities in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" are tame by today's standards for high school people. Ray Walston is solid as a history professor. Nicolas Coppola would later become Oscar-winner Nicolas Cage and of course Sean Penn and Jennifer Jason Leigh are two of the cinema's finest performers today. 3.5 out of 5 stars.
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