Universal Pictures | Release Date: August 13, 1982
7.2
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Generally favorable reviews based on 57 Ratings
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10
JohnYeagerOct 12, 2006
Very funny movie.
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8
SpangleNov 30, 2016
Sex, drugs, and rock & roll define Fast Times at Ridgemont High which highlights sex-obsessed, druggy, Van Halen fans. A classic of 1980s teen comedy, director Amy Heckerling manages to craft a terrific teen film in her directorial debut.Sex, drugs, and rock & roll define Fast Times at Ridgemont High which highlights sex-obsessed, druggy, Van Halen fans. A classic of 1980s teen comedy, director Amy Heckerling manages to craft a terrific teen film in her directorial debut. Given her later struggles as a director, aside from Clueless, it is clear she is most adept when handling female protagonists. Fast Times at Ridgemont High really highlights this with some truly terrific females characters, as well as some good supporting male characters. All-in-all, the film is a funny, authentic, and loose look at teenagers in the 1980s and, really, any decade. With good performances all around, Fast Times at Ridgemont High remains a classic of the coming of age genre.

Featuring an ensemble cast led by Jennifer Jason Leigh as Stacy Hamilton (kind of), Fast Times at Ridgemont High's greatest accomplishment is its authentic characters. Coaxed into believing sex is all that matters, Stacy begins toying around with the idea until an abortion, Stacy is the typical high school girl. Immature and unsure of what she wants, she assumes she wants what her closest friend claims to want as well. That is until she meets Mark Ratner (Brian Backer). Hilariously awkward, Mark is really my spirit animal. In particular, the scene where he is about to close the deal with Stacy after their first date and they wind up looking at a photo album instead. This moment, though it has never happened to me, really spoke to me on a personal level. Mark is awkward, yet a good person. Though Stacy first overlooks him even though she does find him attractive, she comes to see how great he could be. This is not a classic "nice guy" scenario where he is just nice to her in the hopes she will begin to look him. Rather, there is a mutual attraction from the beginning, highlighting just how well-written these characters are, even for 1982. This is not a classic creepy Hollywood romance. Instead, it is authentic and realistic.

Stacy's best friend Linda Barrett (Phoebe Cates) is equally well-written. Nailing the girl who believes she is wise beyond her years, Linda acts as though she is a sexual professional while speaking about her mysterious fiance in Chicago. Along the way, she convinces Stacy to think the same way that she does. In reality, odds are that Linda does not actually have sex with anybody, even if she does believe herself to be a mature adult. There is always one of these kind of people in high school and Linda really embodies this personality. On the flip side, we have Mike Damone (Robert Romanus) who believes himself to be a ladies man. In reality, he is incredibly inexperienced and does not know what to do at all when it comes to women. Similarly to Linda, Mike believes himself to be incredibly mature, even if he still has a lot of growing up to do.

These are just tidbits of the terrific characters in the film who are all incredibly authentic, while also very well acted. In particular, Sean Penn shines as Jeff Spicoli, the stoned slacker. Always disconnected, confused, and stoned, Penn really nails the character and how laid back the "druggy" of the school always ends up being. Really, the way in which the film manages to develop its wide array of characters and make them all incredibly authentic is very impressive. As one watches the film, there are numerous moments where you can sit back and point to people these characters remind you of. This is really Heckerling and writer Cameron Crowe's greatest accomplishment here: authenticity. With some teenage coming of age movie cliches under its belt, the film manages to overcome them with great authenticity.

Largely a stream of consciousness style film, Fast Times at Ridgemont High is a very funny, incredibly realistic, and fast paced coming of age film. With good performances all around, the film is both incredibly enjoyable and insightful as to the obsession with sex possessed by high school students.
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6
Compi24Mar 5, 2015
Comedy and drama may not always blend smoothly together in Amy Heckerling's seminal teen classic, but thanks in no small part to Sean Penn's legendary Spicoli spiel, "Fast Times At Ridgemont High" maintains an overall air of enjoyment.
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8
marcmyworksMay 12, 2016
A wonderfully cast and in-depth look at the American Teenager in the early 80s. It was nice to see girls in control of their sexuality, and boys as actually goofy and awkward.
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7
IndianaParkWarsAug 12, 2020
This is a great coming of age movie. Just as *Lost Highway *paved the way for *Mulholland Drive *and as *Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels *did for *Snatch*, *Fast Times *did the same for *Dazed and Confused*, despite having differentThis is a great coming of age movie. Just as *Lost Highway *paved the way for *Mulholland Drive *and as *Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels *did for *Snatch*, *Fast Times *did the same for *Dazed and Confused*, despite having different directors. They’re both coming-of-age stoner comedies centered around a varying group of high school students, but mostly centered around a select few. The entire film is a slice of life and anecdotal, just showing things happening at Ridgemont High School and drama and relationships between characters. Overall, the greatest part of the film is my love/hate relationship with Damone and the lovability of our favorite surfer/stoner Spicoli. I wouldn’t call it tremendous, but rather a fun movie. It’s got an excellent cast that spearheaded the careers of many famous actors and it’s an early example of a female-directed film, which is hard to come by. The most important part of *Fast Times at Ridgemont High *is how important it is as a predecessor for coming-of-age dramedies. Expand
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8
KeithDowMay 17, 2017
'Fast Times at Ridgemont High' is one of those movies that perfectly captures the zeitgeist of a generation. For each decade, this list would include titles such as 'Easy Rider,' 'Annie Hall,' 'Wayne's World,' and 'The Social Network.'

Its
'Fast Times at Ridgemont High' is one of those movies that perfectly captures the zeitgeist of a generation. For each decade, this list would include titles such as 'Easy Rider,' 'Annie Hall,' 'Wayne's World,' and 'The Social Network.'

Its mixture of comedy and teenage angst is deeply relatable to just about everyone who has gone through high school. However, the fact that Fast Times also doesn't shy away from some of the more sobering aspects of adolescence is what really gives it such a meaningful sense of character and appeal.
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