Newest Reviews
Auschwitz Escape, The
Jungle Fever
Great White
Spy Who Came in from the Cold, The
Raya and the Last Dragon
Letter from Paris
Behind the Mask
Matrix, The
Fried Barry
Once Upon a River
We Still Say Grace
Enfant Terrible
Playboy of the Western World, The
Bike Thief, The
Virtuoso, The
Here are the Young Men
Beast Beast
Labyrinth of Cinema
Justice Society: World War II
Artist's Wife, The
Truman & Tennessee: An Intimate Conversation
Pusher III
Palm Springs
Devil Commands, The
Oak Room, The
Pusher II
Forget Everything and Run
Secrets & Lies
Red Moon Tide
Man with Nine Lives, The
Pot Carriers, The
Black Bear
Newest Articles
A Lot of Growing Up to Do: Fast Times at Ridgemont High on Blu-ray
Oh My Godard: Masculin Feminin on Blu-ray
Let Us Play: Play for Today Volume 2 on Blu-ray
Before The Matrix, There was Johnny Mnemonic: on Digital
More Than Mad Science: Karloff at Columbia on Blu-ray
Indian Summer: The Darjeeling Limited on Blu-ray
3 from 1950s Hollyweird: Dr. T, Mankind and Plan 9
Meiko Kaji's Girl Gangs: Stray Cat Rock on Arrow
Having a Wild Weekend: Catch Us If You Can on Blu-ray
The Drifters: Star Lucie Bourdeu Interview
Meiko Kaji Behind Bars: Female Prisoner Scorpion on Arrow
The Horror of the Soviets: Viy on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Tarka the Otter and The Belstone Fox
Network Double Bills: All Night Long and Ballad in Blue
Chew Him Up and Spit Him Out: Romeo is Bleeding on Blu-ray
British Body Snatchers: They Came from Beyond Space on Blu-ray
Bzzzt: Pulse on Blu-ray
The Tombs Will Be Their Cities: Demons and Demons 2 on Arrow
Somebody Killed Her Husband: Charade on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Maroc 7 and Invasion
Network Double Bills: The Best of Benny Hill and The Likely Lads
Network Double Bills: Some Girls Do and Deadlier Than the Male
Absolutely Bananas: Link on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Hawk the Slayer and The Medusa Touch
The Price of Plague: The Masque of the Red Death on Blu-ray
  Fast Times at Ridgemont High No Good Advice
Year: 1982
Director: Amy Heckerling
Stars: Sean Penn, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Judge Reinhold, Robert Romanus, Brian Backer, Phoebe Cates, Ray Walston, Scott Thomson, Vincent Schiavelli, Amanda Wyss, D.W. Brown, Forest Whitaker, Kelli Maroney, Tom Nolan, Eric Stoltz, James Russo, Anthony Edwards
Genre: Comedy, DramaBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 3 votes)
Review: Tomorrow is the end of the summer holidays and the first day of school for the students of Ridgemont High, and that includes those who work at the local mall. Stacy Hamilton (Jennifer Jason Leigh) works in a restaurant there with her best friend Linda Barrett (Phoebe Cates), and is embarrassed about how inexperienced she is compared to the more worldly Linda. When a handsome man enters the restaurant, Stacy is encouraged to go over and chat him up, but it's he who asks for her phone number. Meanwhile, the boy who has a crush on Stacy, Mark "Rat" Ratner (Brian Backer) is sick of his cinema usher job, though his friend Mike Damone (Robert Romanus) has advice for him...

But never mind about them, because the star who steals the show is Sean Penn as Jeff Spicoli, the stoned surfer (who we never see do any surfing) and rebel without a clue. It's remarkable the number of future celebritries who appeared in Fast Times at Ridgemont High: from the leading roles to the support there are famous faces to spot, including a seventeen-year-old Nicolas Cage in a bit part. And the film quickly gained a reputation for being the quintessential eighties teen movie, perhaps more so than the John Hughes efforts, mainly because of a script written by a certain Cameron Crowe before he opted to take over directorial duties himself.

It was Amy Heckerling who was directing her first feature here, however, beginning a career of crowd pleasers from this until Clueless over a decade later. She showed an understanding of what made Crowe's writing tick, perhaps more so than Crowe, whose script quickly became movie cliché. Which was surprising due to his insistence on basing it on real events, for what he had done to research the book this was based on was to go undercover at a high school and mingle with the students so he could write a form of expose on the truth about their lives, truth that couldn't have come as much of a shock to many people.

Fortunately, sparkling performances brought out the humour for what was actually a very cynical tale - up to the happy ending at any rate. Yes, even Jennifer Jason Leigh was bright as a button here, as the girl whose yearning to live up to the expectations of her best friend (who, it is implied, might not be entirely sure of what she's talking about) lead her to lose her virginity in a squalid baseball park with a man ten years older than her, and eventually fall pregnant by the sleazy (but oddly, not entirely unsympathetic) Damone when she should have been with Rat. Rat, of course, was following Damone's instructions but copped out at the last moment when his chance with Stacy arrived.

There is light to go along with that dark, and it's Penn's sparring with his teacher nemesis Mr Hand (Ray Walston, equally excellent) that provides a good deal of the laughs. Spicoli is penalised for turning up late on his first day, but gets his goodnatured revenge by ordering pizza in class. Crucially, there's nothing vindictive about Spicoli's antics, even when he crashes the car of the one football player you don't mess with (Forest Whitaker) it's out of blatant stupidity rather than malice. Complementing this storyline is the one with Stacy's brother Brad (Judge Reinhold) who is all set for the best year of his life only to suffer indignity after indignity: he loses his job, his girlfriend splits up with him, he gets caught masturbating by the object of his fantasies, and so forth. You feel sorry for the guy, but it is funny. And that's possibly what makes Fast Times succeed, there's not one bad person amongst them; misguided certainly, but Crowe and Heckerling can't prevent a sentimental note being sounded by the close.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


This review has been viewed 4115 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
  Desbris M
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
  Sdfadf Rtfgsdf


Last Updated: