Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982) remains one of my favorite teen / high school films of all time. It brilliantly captures the cultural touchstones of a generation, and the glory days of youth long gone by– before we were slaves to technology and all this social media bullshit.
A young Cameron Crowe, then a freelance writer for Rolling Stone magazine, went undercover as a student at Clairemont High School in San Diego, CA to write a book (of the same name), which he also adapted for the film. In Fast Times we get to witness a bevy of young Hollywood stars already in the making– Sean Penn (who totally stole the film, and birthed an army of Spicoli wannabes in high schools across the country), Judge Reinhold, Phoebe Cates and Jennifer Jason Leigh. There are also early appearances by relative unknowns at the time who would go on to major stardom– Nicolas Cage, (then Nicolas Coppola), Forest Whitaker, Eric Stoltz, and Anthony (Goose) Edwards. Fast Times’ soundtrack was also groundbreaking, featuring a quintessential blend ’70s & ’80s rock & roll artists, that to me, will forever be connected with the film. I mean, who can hear “Moving in Stereo” by The Cars without instantly thinking of that hot, hormone-raging pool scene? Epic.
Haters gonna hate, but eat this– In 2005, Fast Times at Ridgemont High was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”. If you’re of this era it’s definitely a film that still resonates and makes you want to roll a fat one, throw on your Vans, hit the arcade, grab some tasty waves, and meet some babes.