Fast Times at Ridgemont High – 1981
Director – Amy Heckerling
Starring – Judge Reinhold, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Sean Penn, and Phoebe Cates
So now we start getting into some of the movies that could be considered fluff. Potentially not worthy of being on the list of 1001 movies that you MUST see, but possibly being on the list of 1001 movies you might think about checking out sometime if you aren’t busy. Does that mean it’s bad? Not at all. Does it mean that this space could have been better used for something else (like the Big Lebowski or The Blues Brothers for example?) in the comedy genre? Yup.
This isn’t at all an indictment of The Fast Times at Ridgemont High, but as it didn’t really do anything particularly revolutionary for film as a whole (aside from including a lot of young and up-and-coming actors and actresses), it more than likely was pulled from a hat with a list of movies meant to pad out the numbers to 1001.
That aside, Fast Times was a very fun movie. I particularly liked Judge Reinhold, Phoebe Cates, and Jennifer Jason Leigh. Each reminded me of people that I went to high school with, but not in a sappy or sentimental way. Everyone knows, or knew a Judge Reinhold. Everyone saw the Phoebe Cates character walking down the hall. And everyone was friends with or dated a girl like Jennifer Jason Leigh’s character. These characters make the movie relatable for people, at least for someone who grew up in the relatively safe suburbs, like me.
Unfortunately I don’t have a whole lot of analyzing to do for this film. It was great fun to watch, but I haven’t really thought about it too much since. Some quick things to say about the film…It did strike me that there was an awful lot of nudity from a character that was supposed to be 14 years old, and the subject of abortion was dealt with in a pretty straight forward and un-dramatized way. So much so, that I have to imagine that it would have sparked some controversy on it’s initial release (it certainly would today at any rate). Next, I think I can appreciate Sean Penn in this movie more than anything else that I’ve seen him in (that is of course without seeing Milk yet). Lastly I have to say that there is a similar thread going through all of the movies that Cameron Crowe has had a hand in (aside from the dominance of music), each one seems like a close relative of the others, different, but only by a little.
So…watch it, enjoy it, but don’t expect too much.