Nostalgia’d Review: Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)

Welcome to the first installment of Nostalgia’d Reviews!
This week, let’s take a trip over to that cool, happenin’ stereo store at the Ridgemont Mall with Amy Heckerling’s Fast Times at Ridgemont High.


“Mister, if you don’t shut up, I’m gonna kick 100 percent of your ass!”

Fast Times makes me yearn for a time I wasn’t even alive during. There are many movies that have that affect on me…

Fast Times at Ridgemont High, released in 1982 and stars a handful of young, fresh-faced talents such as Sean Penn as Jeff Spicoli, Jennifer Jason Leigh as Stacy Hamilton and Judge Reinhold as her brother Brad, Phoebe Cates as Linda Barrett, Forest Whitaker as Charles Jefferson and wait– NICOLAS CAGE WAS IN THIS?

nic cage fast times
credited as Nicolas Coppola

The coming-of-age comedy follows a group of teenagers as they navigate their way through Ridgemont High for a school year, with an emphasis placed on Stacy as she’s torn between Mark “Rat” Ratner (Brian Backer) and his cool-as-a-scalper-cucumber buddy Mike Damone (Robert Romanus aka John Bender’s younger brother). Right off the bat I will say I adored this movie. I have never seen the movie in its entirety and only really knew a couple of things about it, such as how Spicoli is referenced as one of the greatest high school movie characters and that Phoebe Cates scene…

phoebe cates fresh prince

The characters are easily my favourite aspect of the movie. I didn’t really care much for them toward the beginning of the movie (except Brad… He was terrific) however as it progressed, virtually every character you care to care about is developed wonderfully and they eventually become incredibly fleshed out. Linda is such a supportive friend, it threw me off. I expected some kind of blow out that would occur between her and Stacy, however it surprisingly didn’t go that and instead, she did everything she could to cheer up her best friend when she was down, gave (relatively) solid advice when it came to sex and she actually had some character herself so I was interested in seeing where her character progressed as well.

Can I also just say how much I appreciated the relationship between Brad/Stacy? It is so refreshing to see a brother/sister duo where one isn’t torturing the other until they have to come together for a common goal… Don’t get me wrong, I love those kinds of relationships depicted on film, however as mentioned it was just refreshing to see how much these two genuinely cared for each other. There was one particular moment that made me a bit emotional, a reaction I certainly didn’t expect from a movie that has a character named Mr. Hand…

the motto

To say this movie is quotable simply doesn’t do it justice. I tried to write down as many as I could, unfortunately I ended up just enjoying the movie and letting my brain deal with attempting to memorize as much as it could. Every word out of Damone’s mouth was gold, man. The writing is absolutely fantastic and Fast Timeis one of those movies that are incredibly atmospheric. It is not slap stick-y so there isn’t something bombastic happening on screen every second, it relies heavily on the dialogue progressing the story and it accomplishes that brilliantly with it witty and cleverness.

Here are a few examples of my favourites..

“You fell in love with that girl at the Fotomat, you bought forty dollars worth of fuckin’ film, and you never even talked to her. You don’t even own a camera.”

“People on ‘ludes should not drive!”

“That kid’s been stoned since the third grade”

And my personal favourite:

“Wait, there are three girls here at Ridgemont who have cultivated the Pat Benatar look.”

Another aspect I greatly appreciated of Fast Times were the conflicts. There were one or two overarching issues that the movie had which progresses along nicely and keeps the audience’s attention, yet there were sprinkles of secondary conflicts that characters faced and resolved rather quickly… Something I am so happy about. There is legit tension felt during certain scenes but they don’t linger or stray for too long that make you think “oh my god just tell him already!!”

Favourite Scene

The Final Exams scene. Oh my god, dude this was a brilliant scene. During my high school exams, these were always present:

  • The Mr. Hands of the school. If you were to look up from your paper to stretch they’d glare at you until your grimy greasy head turned back down to your test and your nose bled from that shit.
  • The Mr. Vargases. They didn’t know what the hell was going. They read the newspaper during the exams or pretended to mark papers. Just don’t talk during the test, please.
  • The Myriad of Ways to Cheat that honestly, if I spent the amount of time actually studying for the stupid thing rather than finding proper pens to write tips on my shoes, I’d still probably have failed. But at least I tried. I knew one class where their teacher was genuinely the world’s biggest dumb-dumb so during their exam they passed along a piece of paper with the answers to some of the multiple choice questions. spoiler alert high school isn’t the end of the world. If you want to cheat and have the means to (don’t be a dumb cheater and ruin it for everyone), fucking go for it, man.

If you’re looking for a totally chill 1980’s comedy with fantastic characters and a fucking BRILLIANT soundtrack, check out Fast Times.

Fast Times at Ridgemont High receives a Smiling Matt Damon.

ps. There was one scene that came straight of the 1980’s that I would not have understood at all if it wasn’t for this reddit link that explained it. The scene where after Mr. Hand passes out the papers, the class collectively smells them in sheer joy…

“The pages were reproduced using a mimeograph machine. They smelled wonderful when they were fresh.”

the more you know


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