Fast Times at Ridgemont High

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Fast Times at Ridgemont High
Fast Times at Ridgemont High film poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byAmy Heckerling
Screenplay byCameron Crowe
Based onFast Times at Ridgemont High: A True Story
by Cameron Crowe
Produced by
Starring
CinematographyMatthew F. Leonetti
Edited byEric Jenkins
Production
company
Refugee Films
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • August 13, 1982 (1982-08-13)
Running time
90 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$5 million[2]
Box office$27.1 million (domestic) or $50 million[2]

Fast Times at Ridgemont High is a 1982 American coming-of-age comedy-drama film directed by Amy Heckerling (in her feature directorial debut), from a screenplay by Cameron Crowe, based on his 1981 book Fast Times at Ridgemont High: A True Story. Crowe went undercover at Clairemont High School in San Diego and wrote about his experiences.[3]

The film chronicles a school year in the lives of sophomores Stacy Hamilton (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and Mark Ratner (Brian Backer) and their older friends Linda Barrett (Phoebe Cates) and Mike Damone (Robert Romanus), both of whom believe themselves wiser in the ways of romance than their younger counterparts. The ensemble cast of characters form two subplots with Jeff Spicoli (Sean Penn), a perpetually stoned surfer, facing off against history teacher Mr. Hand (Ray Walston), and Stacy's older brother, Brad (Judge Reinhold), a senior who works in entry-level jobs to pay for his car and ponders ending his two-year relationship with his girlfriend, Lisa (Amanda Wyss).

In addition to Penn, Reinhold, Cates, and Leigh, the film marks early appearances by several actors who later became stars, including Nicolas Cage, Eric Stoltz, Forest Whitaker, and Anthony Edwards (the first two in their feature film debuts).

In 2005, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".[4][5]

Plot[edit]

Brad Hamilton is a popular senior at Ridgemont High School, a fictional school in the San Fernando Valley, and looks forward to his final year of school. He has a job at All-American Burger, his 1960 Buick LeSabre car is almost paid for, and plans to break up with his girlfriend Lisa so he can be completely eligible during his senior year. His perfect life is threatened after an exchange with an obnoxious customer results in his firing from All-American Burger. When Brad tries to tell Lisa how much he needs her, she informs him that she wants to break up with him to date other guys. Brad gets a job at Captain Hook Fish & Chips, but quits in humiliation when a beautiful older woman laughs at him wearing a pirate costume while making a food delivery.

Brad's sister Stacy is a 15-year-old freshman and a virgin. She works at a pizza parlor at Ridgemont Mall alongside her outspoken older friend, Linda Barrett. One night at work, Stacy takes an order from Ron Johnson, a 26-year-old stereo salesman, who asks her out after she tells him she's 19. She later sneaks out of her house for a date with him and loses her virginity that night in the dugout of a baseball field. She later tells Linda about the experience, stating how much it hurt. Linda offers advice to Stacy on the matter, which she often does, as the more worldly and experienced of the two. Ron sends her flowers the next day.

Mike Damone is a smooth-talker who earns money taking sports bets and scalping concert tickets; he fancies himself a worldly ladies' man. His shy but amiable best friend, Mark Ratner, works as an usher at the movie theater across from the pizza parlor at the mall. When Mark develops a crush on Stacy, Damone lets Mark in on his five secrets for picking up girls. Damone later persuades Mark to ask Stacy out on a date to a German restaurant. Afterwards, at her home, Stacy invites Mark into her bedroom, where they look at her photo album together. They begin to kiss, but a nervous Mark abruptly leaves after Stacy attempts to seduce him. She mistakenly interprets his shyness as disinterest. Linda quickly advises her to move on and find another boy. After he drops by her house unannounced, Stacy becomes interested in Damone. She invites him to her pool, which quickly leads to them having sex in the pool house during which he ejaculates very quickly. Her brother Brad, who has become sullen and withdrawn since his breakup with Lisa and the loss of his job at All-American Burger, is caught masturbating in the bathroom by Linda after he fantasizes about her exposing her breasts to him at the pool.

Stacy later informs Damone that he has gotten her pregnant, and he tells her she wanted sex more than he did, which she denies. She asks for him to cover half the cost of an abortion and provide her with a ride to the clinic, and he agrees. However, unable to come up with his half despite attempts to call in debts owed from his business dealings, Damone abandons Stacy on the day of her appointment. She lies and asks her brother Brad to drive her to a bowling alley to meet friends, but he sees her cross the street to the abortion clinic. Brad waits for Stacy and he confronts her about the abortion. Stacy makes Brad promise not to tell their parents, but does not divulge who got her pregnant. When Stacy tells Linda that Damone abandoned her and did not pay his half, Linda becomes furious. The next day, Damone finds his car spray-painted "Prick" and his school locker painted "little prick", as revenge. Mark confronts Damone about his involvement with Stacy. They almost get into a fight, but their gym teacher breaks it up.

Jeff Spicoli is a carefree stoner and surfer who runs afoul of history teacher Mr. Hand. One night, Spicoli wrecks the Chevrolet Camaro of Ridgemont star football player Charles Jefferson during a joyride with Jefferson's younger brother. Spicoli covers up the damage by making it look like the car was destroyed by fans of Ridgemont's sports rival, Lincoln High School. When Ridgemont plays Lincoln, Jefferson, furious about his car, brutally tackles several of Lincoln's players and almost single-handedly wins the game. On the evening of the graduation dance, Mr. Hand visits Spicoli's house and informs him that he must make up the eight hours of class time he has wasted over the school year. They have a history session that lasts until Mr. Hand is satisfied that Spicoli has understood the lesson, and the two show that they respect each other.

In the end, Mark and Stacy start dating again, and Mark makes peace with his best friend Damone. Brad takes a job at a convenience store and is promoted to manager after foiling an armed robbery with some help from an oblivious Spicoli. Damone is busted scalping Ozzy Osbourne tickets and is forced to take a job at 7-Eleven. Linda attends college in Riverside and moves in with her abnormal-psychology professor. Spicoli saves Brooke Shields from drowning and blows the reward money hiring rock band Van Halen to play at his birthday party. Mr. Hand maintains his belief that everyone is on dope.

Cast[edit]

Other minor appearances include Martin Brest, who soon afterward directed the mega-hit Beverly Hills Cop; sports broadcaster Stu Nahan as himself; Taylor Negron as the Pizza Guy; Pamela Springsteen, sister of Bruce; Lana Clarkson, the future murder victim of Phil Spector; Anthony Edwards, future star on the hit film Top Gun; Crowe's future wife Nancy Wilson of the band Heart; and producer Stuart Cornfeld, who had produced The Elephant Man and History of the World, Part I.

Production[edit]

Development[edit]

The film is adapted from a book Crowe wrote after a year spent at Clairemont High School in San Diego, California. He went undercover to do research for his 1981 book Fast Times at Ridgemont High: A True Story, about his observations of the high school and the students he befriended there, including then-student Andy Rathbone, on whom the character Mark "Rat" Ratner was modeled.[6][7]

Casting[edit]

Nicolas Cage made his feature-film debut, portraying an unnamed co-worker of Brad's at All-American Burger, credited as "Nicolas Coppola."[8] It was also the film debut for Eric Stoltz and provided early roles for Anthony Edwards and Forest Whitaker. Crowe's future wife Nancy Wilson of Heart has a cameo as the "Beautiful Girl in Car" who laughs at Brad in his Captain Hook uniform during a traffic-light stop. Tom Hanks was considered for the role of Brad Hamilton. Justine Bateman was offered the role of Linda Barrett, but she turned it down to star in Family Ties. Matthew Broderick was offered the role of Jeff Spicoli, but turned it down. Jodie Foster was considered for the role of Stacy Hamilton.[9][10]

Soundtrack[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic[11]

The soundtrack album Fast Times at Ridgemont High: Music from the Motion Picture was released by Elektra Records on July 30, 1982.[12] It peaked at #54 on the US Billboard 200 album chart.[13] The soundtrack features the work of many quintessential 1980s rock artists.

Several of the movie's songs were released as singles, including Jackson Browne's "Somebody's Baby", which reached #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.[14] Other singles were the title track by Sammy Hagar, a cover of The Tymes' "So Much in Love" by Timothy B. Schmit which reached #59 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, "Raised on the Radio" by the Ravyns and "Waffle Stomp" by Joe Walsh. In addition to Schmit and Walsh, the album features solo tracks by other members of the Eagles: Don Henley and Don Felder. The soundtrack also included "I Don't Know (Spicoli's Theme)" by Jimmy Buffett and "Goodbye Goodbye" by Oingo Boingo (led by Danny Elfman).

Five tracks in the film not included on the soundtrack are "Moving in Stereo" by the Cars; "American Girl" by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers; "We Got the Beat" by the Go Go's, which is the movie's opening theme; Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir"; and "Jingle Bell Rock" by Bobby Helms. In addition, the live band at the prom dance during the end of the film played two songs also not on the soundtrack: The Eagles' "Life in the Fast Lane" and Sam the Sham's "Wooly Bully".

The Donna Summer track "Highway Runner", was recorded in 1981 for her double album titled I'm a Rainbow; however, the album was shelved by Geffen Records but ultimately released in 1996 by Mercury Records.

Todd Rundgren also recorded the song "Attitude" for the film at Crowe's request. It was not included in the film, but was released on Rundgren's Demos and Lost Albums in 2001. A track titled "Fast Times" was recorded by Heart but was not used in the film. The track ended up on their 1982 album Private Audition.

In some countries, the album was released as a single LP with 10 tracks.[15]

Heckerling, in the DVD audio commentary, states that the 1970s artists, like the Eagles, were introduced by one of the film's producers. Coincidentally, Irving Azoff, one of the film's producers, was the personal manager for the Eagles and Stevie Nicks.[16]

Track listing[edit]

Side one
No.TitleWriter(s)PerformerLength
1."Somebody's Baby"Browne, Danny KortchmarJackson Browne4:05
2."Waffle Stomp"WalshJoe Walsh3:40
3."Love Rules"Henley, KortchmarDon Henley4:05
4."Uptown Boys"Goffin, Janna AllenLouise Goffin2:45
5."So Much in Love"
  • George Williams
  • Bill Jackson
  • Roy Straigis
Timothy B. Schmit2:25
Side two
No.TitleWriter(s)PerformerLength
1."Raised on the Radio"Rob FaheyThe Ravyns3:43
2."The Look In Your Eyes"McMahonGerard McMahon4:00
3."Speeding"Jane Wiedlin, Charlotte CaffeyThe Go-Go's2:11
4."Don't Be Lonely"Marv RossQuarterflash3:18
5."Never Surrender"Felder, Kenny LogginsDon Felder4:15
Side three
No.TitleWriter(s)PerformerLength
1."Fast Times (The Best Years of Our Lives)"SquierBilly Squier3:41
2."Fast Times at Ridgemont High"HagarSammy Hagar3:36
3."I Don't Know (Spicoli's Theme)"Buffett, Michael UtleyJimmy Buffett3:00
4."Love Is the Reason"NashGraham Nash3:31
5."I'll Leave It Up to You"Rusty YoungPoco2:55
Side four
No.TitleWriter(s)PerformerLength
1."Highway Runner"Giorgio Moroder, SummerDonna Summer3:18
2."Sleeping Angel"NicksStevie Nicks4:43
3."She's My Baby (And She's Outta Control)"Dave Palmer, Phil JostPalmer/Jost2:53
4."Goodbye, Goodbye"Danny ElfmanOingo Boingo4:34
Total length:65:50

Reception[edit]

Box office[edit]

Universal gave the film a limited theatrical release on August 13, 1982, opening in 498 theaters. It earned $2.5 million in its opening weekend. The release was widened to 713 theaters, earning $3.25 million. The film ranked 29th among U.S. releases in 1982, earning more than $27 million,[17] six times its $4.5 million budget, and later gaining popularity through television and home video releases.

Over the years, the film has obtained an iconic status. In an interview, Penn stated: "None of us had any idea it would take on a life of its own."

Critical response[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 78% based on 58 reviews, with an average rating of 6.70/10. The site's critical consensus reads "While Fast Times at Ridgemont High features Sean Penn's legendary performance, the film endures because it accurately captured the small details of school, work, and teenage life."[18] Metacritic assigned the film a weighted average score of 61 out of 100, based on 21 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[19]

Roger Ebert called it a "scuz-pit of a movie", but praised the performances by Leigh, Penn, Cates, and Reinhold.[20] Janet Maslin wrote that it was "a jumbled but appealing teen-age comedy with something of a fresh perspective on the subject."[21]

As time went on, however, the film was increasingly seen as a classic. In an essay written for the Criterion Collection edition in 2021, critic Dana Stevens wrote, "Fast Times is the polar opposite of exploitation. Deep in its horny heart, this is the story of one fifteen-year-old girl’s clumsy and sometimes painful introduction to the world of sex, related without judgment or preconception or the least hint of sentimentalization. Heckerling’s film is a raunchy crowd-pleaser replete with stoner humor, a masturbation gag, and a blow-job tutorial that makes use of school-cafeteria carrots. But it is also attuned to the emotional lives of teenagers—girls and boys—in ways that place it far ahead of its time."[22]

Accolades[edit]

Crowe's screenplay was nominated for a WGA Award for best comedy adapted from another medium. The film ranks #15 on Bravo's "100 Funniest Movies"[23] and #2 on Entertainment Weekly's list of the "50 Best High School Movies".[24]

The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:

National Film Preservation Board

Television spin-off[edit]

The film inspired a short-lived 1986 television series titled Fast Times. Ray Walston and Vincent Schiavelli reprised their roles as Hand and Vargas on the show. Other characters from the movie were played by different actors, most notably Patrick Dempsey as Mike Damone.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "FAST TIMES (X)". British Board of Film Classification. September 9, 1982. Archived from the original on May 18, 2015. Retrieved May 15, 2015.
  2. ^ a b WE'RE TALKING GROSS, TACKY AND DUMB Brown, Peter H. Los Angeles Times 20 Jan 1985: 6.
  3. ^ "15 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Fast Times At Ridgemont High". IFC.com. October 13, 2014. Archived from the original on October 25, 2015. Retrieved November 19, 2015.
  4. ^ "Librarian of Congress Adds 25 Films to National Film Registry". Library of Congress. Archived from the original on November 26, 2020. Retrieved October 1, 2020.
  5. ^ "Complete National Film Registry Listing". Library of Congress. Archived from the original on August 6, 2020. Retrieved October 1, 2020.
  6. ^ Fast Times at Ridgemont High at IMDb
  7. ^ Russell, Lisa (March 13, 1995). "Geek God: Once the Butt of Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Best-Selling Author Andy Rathbone Becomes a Computer Guru". People. Archived from the original on March 30, 2011. Retrieved April 20, 2011.
  8. ^ Lauren Schutte (February 14, 2012). "Nicolas Cage on Turning Down 'Dumb & Dumber,' Winning Another Oscar and the Movie that Made Him Change His Name". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on May 1, 2012. Retrieved August 24, 2012.
  9. ^ "The Lost Comedy Roles of Tom Hanks". December 22, 2011.
  10. ^ "The Lost Roles of Fast Times at Ridgemont High". March 29, 2012.
  11. ^ Fast Times at Ridgemont High (Original Soundtrack) Archived August 3, 2012, at the Wayback Machine, AllMusic
  12. ^ Discogs (2012). "Various – Fast Times At Ridgemont High • Music From The Motion Picture". Discogs. Discogs. Archived from the original on March 3, 2013. Retrieved August 24, 2012.
  13. ^ Mike Duquette (March 4, 2011). "Friday Feature: "Fast Times at Ridgemont High"". The Second Disc. WordPress.com. Archived from the original on May 28, 2012. Retrieved August 24, 2012.
  14. ^ Charts and Awards, Allmusic.
  15. ^ "Soundtrack versions at discogs.com". Discogs. Archived from the original on March 3, 2013. Retrieved February 10, 2016.
  16. ^ "Irving Azoff - Biography & History - AllMusic". AllMusic. Archived from the original on September 8, 2017. Retrieved June 3, 2017.
  17. ^ Fast Times at Ridgemont High Archived December 7, 2006, at the Wayback Machine at Box Office Mojo (retrieved on December 6, 2006).
  18. ^ "Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on November 12, 2020. Retrieved August 17, 2022.
  19. ^ "Fast Times at Ridgemont High reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Archived from the original on November 12, 2020. Retrieved March 12, 2021.
  20. ^ Ebert, Roger (1982). "Fast Times at Ridgemont High". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on June 3, 2013. Retrieved December 6, 2006.
  21. ^ Maslin, Janet (September 3, 1982). "'RIDGEMONT HIGH'". The New York Times.
  22. ^ Stevens, Dana (May 11, 2021). "Fast Times at Ridgemont High: A Kid's-Eye View". Criterion. Retrieved May 4, 2022.
  23. ^ "Bravo's 100 Funniest Movies List is Laughable" Archived December 8, 2008, at the Wayback Machine, Manroomonline.com, June 2, 2006.
  24. ^ "50 Best High School Movies". Filmsite.org. September 15, 2006. Archived from the original on November 12, 2010. Retrieved April 20, 2011.
  25. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs" (PDF). American Film Institute. Archived (PDF) from the original on March 16, 2013. Retrieved August 21, 2016.

External links[edit]

Quotations related to Fast Times at Ridgemont High at Wikiquote