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

Fast Times at Ridgemont High is a 1982 American teen coming-of-age comedy-drama film directed by Amy Heckerling and written by Cameron Crowe adapted from his 1981 book of the same title. Crowe went undercover at Clairemont High School in San Diego and wrote about his experiences.[3]

The film was the directorial debut of Amy Heckerling and 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 uptight history teacher Mr. Hand (Ray Walston), and Stacy's older brother, Brad (Judge Reinhold), a senior who works at a series of entry-level jobs in order to pay off 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, Forest Whitaker, Eric Stoltz, and Anthony Edwards. Among these actors, Penn, Cage, and Whitaker later won the Academy Award for Best Actor, with Penn winning twice.

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".


Brad Hamilton is a popular senior at Ridgemont High School and looks forward to his final year of school. He has a job at All-American Burger, almost has his 1960 Buick LeSabre paid off, and plans to break up with his girlfriend Lisa so he can be completely eligible during the year. Brad, however, is fired for threatening an obnoxious customer. While he tries to tell Lisa how much he needs her, she informs Brad 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 his wearing a pirate costume while making a food delivery.

Brad's sister Stacy is a 15-year-old sophomore and a virgin. She works at a pizza parlor at Ridgemont Mall alongside her outspoken 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 to meet him and she loses her virginity to him in a dugout at a baseball field. She tells Linda about the date, 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, but stops calling after November.

Next, we are introduced to Stacy and Linda's classmates. Mike Damone, a smooth-talking know-it-all who earns money taking sports bets and scalping concert tickets, who fancies himself as a sagacious and 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 proclaims his love for Stacy to Mike, Mike lets Mark in on his five secrets for picking up girls. Mike 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 Mark abruptly leaves after Stacy attempts to seduce him. She mistakenly interprets his shyness as lack of interest. Stacy tells Linda that she doesn't believe Mark is interested yet she likes him. She is advised to find someone else to like fast. After he shows her a small act of kindness, Stacy grows interested in Damone. Eventually she invites him to go swimming in her pool, which leads to them having sex in the pool house during which he ejaculates very quickly. Brad, who has become sullen and withdrawn since his breakup, is caught by Linda masturbating in the bathroom after he daydreams about her after seeing her in a bikini.

Stacy later informs Damone that she is pregnant, and he tells her she wanted sex more than he did, which she denies. She asks for him to pay half the money for an abortion and give her ride to the clinic, to which he agrees. However, unable to come up with his half despite attempts to call in debts owed from his business dealings, he bails on her the day of the appointment. She asks 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 doesn't divulge who got her pregnant. When Stacy tells Linda that Damone bailed on her and didn't pay his half, Linda becomes furious. The next day, Damone finds both his car and locker vandalized 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 strict history teacher Mr. Hand, who is intolerant of Spicoli's disregard of his classroom rules. One night during a joyride with his friend, Spicoli wrecks the 1979 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 of Ridgemont star football player Charles Jefferson. Spicoli covers up the damage by making it look like the car was trashed by fans of Ridgemont's sports rival, Lincoln High. When Ridgemont plays Lincoln, Jefferson (furious about his car) thrashes several of Lincoln's players and almost single-handedly wins the game. On the evening of the graduation dance, Mr. Hand shows up at Spicoli's house and informs him that since he has wasted eight hours of class time over the past year, Mr. Hand intends to make up for it that night. They have a one-on-one history session that lasts until Mr. Hand is satisfied that Spicoli has understood the lesson.

In the end, Mark and Stacy start dating, and Mark and Damone make peace. Brad takes a job at a convenience store and is promoted to manager after foiling a robbery with the unintended help of Spicoli.


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



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.[4][5]


Nicolas Cage made his feature-film debut, portraying an unnamed co-worker of Brad's at All-American Burger, credited as "Nicolas Coppola."[6] 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.


Fast Times at Ridgemont High: Music from the Motion Picture
Soundtrack album by
Various artists
ReleasedJuly 30, 1982
GenreRock, pop
Producervarious artists
Singles from Fast Times at Ridgemont High: Music from the Motion Picture
  1. "Somebody's Baby"
    Released: July 1982
Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[7]

The soundtrack album, Fast Times at Ridgemont High: Music from the Motion Picture, was released by Elektra Records on July 30, 1982.[8] It peaked at #54 on the US Billboard 200 album chart.[9] 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.[10] Other singles were the title track by Sammy Hagar, a cover of The Tymes' "So Much in Love" by Timothy B. Schmit, "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 two 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, but 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 initially recorded in 1981 for her double album entitled I'm a Rainbow; however, the album was shelved by Summer's then-label, 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 later 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 (also) released as a single LP with ten tracks.[11]

Heckerling, in the DVD audio commentary, states that the 1970s "classic rock" 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.[12]

Track listing[edit]

Side one
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
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
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
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


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 later widened to 713 theaters, earning $3.25 million. The film ranked 29th among US releases in 1982, ultimately earning more than $27 million,[13] 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 review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 78% based on 50 reviews, with an average rating of 7.1/10. 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."[14] Metacritic, another review aggregator, assigned the film a weighted average score of 67 out of 100, based on 13 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[15]

Roger Ebert called it a "scuz-pit of a movie", though he praised the performances by Leigh, Penn, Cates, and Reinhold.[16] Janet Maslin wrote that it was "a jumbled but appealing teen-age comedy with something of a fresh perspective on the subject."[17]


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",[18] and #2 on Entertainment Weekly's list of the "50 Best High School Movies".[19]

The film is also 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 for CBS called 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.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "FAST TIMES (X)". British Board of Film Classification. September 9, 1982. 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". October 13, 2014. Retrieved November 19, 2015.
  4. ^ Fast Times at Ridgemont High on IMDb
  5. ^ 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. Retrieved April 20, 2011.
  6. ^ 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. Retrieved August 24, 2012.
  7. ^ Fast Times at Ridgemont High (Original Soundtrack), AllMusic
  8. ^ Discogs (2012). "Various – Fast Times At Ridgemont High • Music From The Motion Picture". Discogs. Discogs. Retrieved August 24, 2012.
  9. ^ Mike Duquette (March 4, 2011). "Friday Feature: "Fast Times at Ridgemont High"". The Second Disc. Retrieved August 24, 2012.
  10. ^ Charts and Awards, Allmusic.
  11. ^ "Soundtrack versions at". Retrieved February 10, 2016.
  12. ^ "Irving Azoff - Biography & History - AllMusic". AllMusic.
  13. ^ Fast Times at Ridgemont High at Box Office Mojo (retrieved on December 6, 2006).
  14. ^ "Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved October 5, 2017.
  15. ^ "Fast Times at Ridgemont High reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved October 5, 2017.
  16. ^ Ebert, Roger (1982). "Fast Times at Ridgemont High". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved December 6, 2006.
  17. ^ Maslin, Janet. September 3, 1982. "Ridgemont High", New York Times (retrieved via registered-user account on December 6, 2006).
  18. ^ "Bravo's 100 Funniest Movies List is Laughable" Archived December 8, 2008, at the Wayback Machine,, June 2, 2006.
  19. ^ "50 Best High School Movies". September 15, 2006. Retrieved April 20, 2011.
  20. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs" (PDF). American Film Institute. Retrieved August 21, 2016.

External links[edit]

Quotations related to Fast Times at Ridgemont High at Wikiquote