Classic Review – Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)

Title – Fast Times at Ridgemont High

Director – Amy Heckerling (Clueless)

Cast – Jennifer Jason Leigh, Robert Romanus, Brian Backer, Judge Reinhold, Sean Penn, Phoebe Cates, Forest Whitaker

Plot – The life and times of a group of Californian high school students growing up in the early 80s where sex, drugs and rock n roll all reigned supreme.

“All I need are some tasty waves, a cool buzz, and I’m fine”

Review by Eddie on 30/07/2020

Becoming an instant teen/high school classic upon release and standing the test of time regarding a steady flow of fans thanks to its ageless narrative devices and collection of colorful characters, Amy Heckerling and Cameron Crowe’s lewd, crude and rude (yet somehow heartfelt) examination of the teenage landscape remains one of the most enjoyable cinematic exercises of its kind.

As is to be expected from anything with Crowe attached, Fast Times at Ridgemont High takes a scatter-gun approach to its subject matter as music, over the top situations and some extremely funny/awkward moments play out before our eyes, all concerning a bunch of horny and self-discovering teenagers that are trying to find their way in this big scary world we call home.

Gathering together an extremely talented cast of mainly young performers, which includes career making turns from Sean Penn as all-time classic cinematic stoner Jeff Spicoli and Jennifer Jason Leigh as the kind-hearted Stacey Hamilton, as well as some awesome cameos from the likes of Forest Whitaker and Nic Cage (Coppola at the time), Crowe and Heckerling struck gold with their casting, in what acts as one of the 80’s most enjoyable ensemble pieces.

Unafraid to tackle some fairly taboo subject matters and deliver lines of dialogue that would make even the most wild of teenagers at the time blush, Times isn’t all fun and games as it looks to explore a range of up and down emotions and situations that litter the lives of its participants, meaning this isn’t a straight up raunchy comedy that many of its 80 counterparts and imitators have since developed into.

It’s many of these more serious minded moments that Times has lost some of its verve and power over the years since its release, with today’s climate and expectations of how media deals with such tricky moments not as refined as you’d expect from a product nearing 40 years of age, with Crowe and Heckerling not always able to balance out the moments of extreme silliness with more intense moments such as teenage pregnancy and romantic ups and downs.

At its core however, Times is a film with a strong sense of heart and openness to portray its subject matters as flawed and relatable human beings, with Crowe’s ability to create characters we can all trace back to our own lives a huge reason why the rag-tag groups of miscreants and trouble-makers we find here have been able to endear themselves into many viewers hearts and mind and remain a staple of pop culture all these years on.

Final Say – 

Sometimes messy and unfocused and not always dedicating itself fully to examining the more serious minded aspects of its bare bones plot, Fast Times at Ridgemont High remains a solidified teen classic that all of us could relate to in some way, shape or form.

3 1/2 pizza deliveries out of 5  

2 responses to “Classic Review – Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)

  1. Stacy’s storyline in the movie is a punch in a gut. When I first saw it, I was stunned. Given how it’s remembered with Sean Penn and Mr, Hand, it went into direction I didn’t expect.

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