Monday, November 22, 2010

679. Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)

Running Time: 90 minutes
Directed By: Amy Heckerling
Written By: Cameron Crowe, from his novel
Main Cast: Jennifer Jason Leigh, Sean Penn, Judge Reinhold, Robert Romanus, Brian Backer

201 DOWN, 800 TO GO

Knowing I wanted to watch something fairly short, so as to have more time this evening to work on my TOP 20 list, I once again ventured to the DVD shelf, but this time pulled a movie that my wife purchased, "Fast Times at Ridgemont High". I had seen it once before and liked it quite a bit this time around.

"Fast Times at Ridgemont High" really has no linear plot, as it is basically a grouping of narratives, telling the hi jinks of the students who attend Ridgemont High School and tells the story of their life over the course of one year. Our main character is Stacy Hamilton (Leigh), a 15-year old freshman who works at the pizza place at the mall. Her best friend is Linda (Phoebe Cates) who also works at the pizza place, but is a senior at Ridgemont High. Stacy is reaching that age where she is becoming interested in boys and Linda isn't the greatest of people to depress those desires. Linda does her best to give her a senior "woman's" advice and Stacy has her run-ins with several guys, including a 26-year old man and a classmate in her biology class, Mark Ratner (Backer). Stacy's brother is Brad (Reinhold), who's pride and joy is his "cruise vessel" a.k.a. his car. Brad holds down several jobs throughout the course of the film, including one that garnered him "Employee of the Month" honors - All American Burger. Brad is looking forward to graduating, but can't seem to get a grip on having a good time during his final year at Ridgemont High. There's also Mike Damone (Romanus), an amateur businessman who makes his money scalping concert tickets and betting on sports. Damone is arrogant and conceded, but gets a wake up call when Stacy shows interest in him and Stacy gets pregnant. Last, but not least, there's Jeff Spicoli (Penn), who occupies his own little world and in his own words, only needs "some tasty waves and a cool buzz".


Seeing as how I was only five years old when I escaped the 1980s, I really don't have a handle on what is accurate and inaccurate in portraying the lives of high schoolers in that decade, but I'd say "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" is a pretty accurate depiction. You really get that suburban, high-school feel from the whole film and while the movie starts out reeking of 80s nostalgia, once you settle in, the 80s facet of it kind of fades away and you're left with a pretty good, little flick. This was kind of a star maker of a movie, as Sean Penn would go on to win two Oscars, Jennifer Jason Leigh made a bit of a name for herself, Reinhold went on to star in more 80s blunders and there's a slew of stars in very minor roles, who went on to become semi-famous to famous, including: Eric Stoltz, Anthony Edwards, Forest Whitaker and Nicolas Cage.

I really don't have a whole lot else to say about "Fast Times at Ridgemont High". I'm not sure if it's one of the 1001 movies you must see, but I would recommend it on the basis that it is a really fun movie and I think it's a hard movie to dislike. I think a lot of people, especially teens who grew up in the 1980s will have a lot of fun re-living the days of the 80s and comparing the lives of these characters to their own lives. Everybody who watches this film, can probably find one character that they're the most like, or that they were the most like in high school. For me, I'd have to say I'm the Nicolas Cage character, as I was lingering in the background, barely noticeable.

RATING: 7/10 Good film that would provide a bit of a stepping stone to Cameron Crowe's career. Although the only other Crowe related film in the book is "Say Anything", what's up with that?


November 22, 2010 4:53pm

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