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 coming-of-age comedy 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 freshmen Stacy Hamilton (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and Mark Ratner (Brian Backer), and their respective 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 who is pondering 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 would later win 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 is looking forward to his final year of school. He has a job at All-American Burger, he almost has his 1960 Buick LeSabre paid off, and he is planning to break up with his girlfriend, Lisa, so he can be completely eligible during the year. However, Brad is fired for screaming at an obnoxious customer. When trying to tell Lisa how much he needs her, she informs Brad that she wants to break up with him in order to date other guys. Brad gets a job at Captain Hook Fish & Chips, but quits it in humiliation when a beautiful, older woman sees him wearing a pirate costume while making a food delivery and laughs at him.

Brad's sister, Stacy, is a 15-year-old sophomore and also a virgin. She works at a pizza parlor at the Ridgemont Mall alongside her outspoken friend, the popular and sexually active 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 years old. She later sneaks out of her house to meet him and they have sex in a dugout at a softball field. Stacy never hears from Ron again, but tells Linda about the loss of her virginity.

Mike Damone, a somewhat smooth-talking know-it-all, who earns money taking bets and scalping concert tickets, fancies himself a sagacious and worldly ladies' man. Mike's shy but amiable best friend, Mark Ratner, works at the movie theater across from the pizza parlor at the mall. When Mark proclaims his love for Stacy to him, Mike lets Mark in on his five secrets for picking up girls. Mike later convinces 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 Stacy's photo album together. They begin to kiss, but Mark abruptly leaves after Stacy attempts to seduce him. Stacy mistakenly interprets Mark's shyness as lack of interest. Eventually, Stacy becomes interested in Damone and she invites him to have a swim in her pool, which leads to them having sex in the pool house. Brad, meanwhile, has a huge crush on Linda, which becomes all the more intense when he returns home and sees her by the pool in a bikini. However she walks in on him in the bathroom when he is fantasizing about her, which leaves them both embarrassed.

Stacy later informs Damone that she is pregnant, and tells him she's scheduled an abortion and wants him to pay half of the bill. On the day of her appointment, embarrassed at being unable to raise the money for his half of the bill, Damone begins to ignore Stacy. Stacy asks Brad to drive her to a bowling alley to meet friends, but Brad sees Stacy enter the abortion clinic across the street. Brad waits for Stacy and he confronts her about the abortion. Stacy has Brad promise not to tell their parents. When Stacy tells Linda, Linda becomes angry at Damone and vandalizes his car and school locker as revenge for what he did to Stacy. Mark and Damone almost get into a fight in the boys' locker room when Mark confronts Damone about his having been with Stacy, but it is broken up by the gym teacher.

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 the rules of his classroom. One night, Spicoli wrecks the 1979 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 of Ridgemont star football player Charles Jefferson, during a joyride with Jefferson's younger brother. Spicoli decides to park the car in front of the school with slurs painted on it, supposedly written by Ridgemont's 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 for Ridgemont. 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 session that lasts until Mr. Hand is satisfied that Spicoli has understood the lesson.

In the end, Mark and Stacy get together, and Mark and Damone make peace. Brad takes a job at a convenience store and is promoted to manager after foiling a robbery. Text that appears on the screen in the closing scene tells the news that Spicoli saved Brooke Shields from drowning and then spent the reward money hiring Van Halen to play at his birthday party, that Linda got accepted to UC Riverside and moved in with her Abnormal Psychology professor, that Damone got arrested for scalping Ozzy Osbourne tickets and got a job at 7-Eleven, and that Mr. Hand still believes everyone is "on dope".




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 "Rat" 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 at the red light in his Captain Hook uniform.


Fast Times at Ridgemont High: Music from the Motion Picture
Soundtrack album by various artists
ReleasedJuly 30, 1982
GenreRock, Pop
Length65:50 (
LabelElektra Records
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, peaked at #54 on the Billboard album chart.[8] 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.[9] 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.[10]

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.[11]

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 StraigisTimothy B. Schmit2:25
6."Raised on the Radio"Rob FaheyThe Ravyns3:43
7."The Look In Your Eyes"McMahonGerard McMahon4:00
8."Speeding"Jane Wiedlin, Charlotte CaffeyThe Go-Go's2:11
9."Don't Be Lonely"Marv RossQuarterflash3:18
10."Never Surrender"Felder, Kenny LogginsDon Felder4:15
11."Fast Times (The Best Years of Our Lives)"SquierBilly Squier3:41
12."Fast Times at Ridgemont High"HagarSammy Hagar3:36
13."I Don't Know (Spicoli's Theme)"Buffett, Michael UtleyJimmy Buffett3:00
14."Love Is the Reason"NashGraham Nash3:31
15."I'll Leave It Up To You"Rusty YoungPoco2:55
16."Highway Runner"Giorgio Moroder, SummerDonna Summer3:18
17."Sleeping Angel"NicksStevie Nicks4:43
18."She's My Baby (And She's Outta Control)"Dave Palmer, Phil JostPalmer/Jost2:53
19."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 48 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:

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 (14 February 2012). "Nicolas Cage on Turning Down 'Dumb & Dumber,' Winning Another Oscar and the Movie that Made Him Change His Name". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 24 August 2012.
  7. ^ Fast Times at Ridgemont High (Original Soundtrack), Allmusic
  8. ^ Mike Duquette (4 March 2011). "Friday Feature: "Fast Times at Ridgemont High"". The Second Disc. Retrieved 24 August 2012.
  9. ^ Charts and Awards, Allmusic.
  10. ^ "Soundtrack versions at". Retrieved 10 February 2016.
  11. ^ "Irving Azoff - Biography & History - AllMusic". AllMusic.
  12. ^ Discogs (2012). "Various – Fast Times At Ridgemont High • Music From The Motion Picture". Discogs. Discogs. Retrieved 24 August 2012.
  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]

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