Fast Times at Ridgemont High

Is this film awesome, or what? It’s among the coolest high school films I’ve ever seen, and it’s one of the most representative movies of the ’80s. The music is absolutely great, the clothes are freakily flashy and the kids are real fun. The film is pure fun from start to end, and it’s more than often hilarious. It’s also an impressively accurate take on teenage life, 80s-wise at least. Every single one of them is obsessed with sex, and they sure do like to have fun, whether it’s at parties or (most often) at the mall. What I like most is the way we follow all these different teenagers, who are all enjoyably interpreted.

Here’s a run-down: Stacy Hamilton (Jennifer Jason Leigh) is a cute 15 year old girl who works at a pizza place. She’s really intrigued by sex and she’s determined to lose her virginity real soon, encouraged by her sexually active friend Linda (Phoebe Cates). Stacy’s brother is Brad is an average guy, with his shitty job, his almost paid car and his stuck-up girlfriend. I just love the character because even though he might not have the coolest life, he’s extremely optimistic. Yeah, he’s pissed from time to time, but generally, he’s always taking life from the bright side. Who better to play him than Judge Reinhold. I just love his style. Just watch him having the time of his life washing his beloved car to some cool 80s tune! It’s like he’s a kid in a young man’s body; no wonder he was cast as exactly that in 1989’s “Vice-Versa”.

Mark (Brian Backer)’s also a regular guy, but he’s much shyer. He gets nervous whenever he’s near a girl. Fortunately, he’s coached Mike (Robert Romanus)’s a small time hustler who makes dough scalping concert tickets. He’s always as cool as it gets. He really has the attitude. I love the way he explains to Mark how to act around girl. It’s hilariously macho, yet not all that dumb.

All the previous characters are really interesting and fun, yet they’re nothing compared to Jeff Spicoli, a no-brainer surfer pothead. It’s the role that launched Sean Penn‘s career, and it ain’t surprising. During his career, he gave us lots of astonishing performances, but he’s at his coolest in this early role. I extremely like his dopey attitude and the way he’s always kinda trippin’. Watching him, you understand what inspired “Bill & Ted” and “Wayne’s World”. All the way back in 1982, Penn was already doing the “Awesome! Excellent!” schtick. I’m telling you, he’s hilarious and oh so darn cool. Notice his stoner buds, played by no one other than Eric Stoltz and Anthony Edwards. Forrest Whitaker can also be seen as a football player, and Nicolas Cage is an extra in a couple of scenes!

This film is a blast. I really dig it, and I’d watch it again anytime. The only thing that can be annoying by moments is also what makes it so entertaining: everything happens so fast! Like, the film covers the lives of numerous teenagers whole school year from September to June in 90 minutes! Just compare it to John Hughes’ four high school films, which all take place in a day or so. The fast pace of this Cameron Crowe-written, Amy Heckerling-directed film usually ain’t such a big deal except for one particular scene. A subplot about a girl who gets impregnated and then has to get an abortion is occupies barely 5 minutes of the film! I mean, they could have made a whole film about that, it’s a pretty striking event. I just found it weird that it happens, and then they never even mention it again. The film’s still a must-see.