The Times at Ridgemont High are so fast, this movie’s only 90 minutes long!
This review shall handle the coming of age tale, Fast Times at Ridgemont High. This classic 80’s teen flick goes through a year at (surprise surprise) Ridgemont High. Over the course of that year, it focuses on three subplots, each so important, that they get their own paragraph.
There is the lead girl, Stacy, who, after 1 viewing, I have determined may or may not also be Jules from Psych, who is looking for a guy. Pretty much any guy. There’s also Guy Who Looks Like a Young Bob Saget, who I’m fairly certain is named Mark. This character, though, is more like Danny Tanner than comedian Bob Saget (the one who likes using a ton of profanity). He is an honor roll kid with a steady job at the movie theater, which means we get to see him wearing a tuxedo quite often. This ups his cool factor by about 12. He is, unfortunately, friends with a ticket scalper/ all around terrible person, named Mike, who convinces Mark to remove his tuxedo jacket and go talk to Stacy. Stacy, though, turns out to be a wily temptress, and tries to seduce the nice, young, innocent Mark on their date. Mark manages to escape, but still likes Stacy. Stacy, however, is also a practitioner of harlotry. Her heart moves on to Mike, whom she does manage to seduce, because he is a terrible friend. In a move largely believed (by me) to be the work of karma, she gets pregnant. She makes a deal with Mike, with the formality of a high-five, but none of the happiness, that he would drive her to the clinic to get an abortion, as well as pay for half. Mike valiantly agrees….except he doesn’t show up. Way to pick them, Stacy. The end of the film, though, proves that even if nice guys finish last, they do finish, and Mark finally manages to kindle a relationship with Stacy. She’ll probably screw it up.
The second subplot revolves around Stacy’s older brother, Brad. He is just a delightful gentleman, whom we see at the beginning of the movie trying to find a way to break up with his long term girlfriend so he can see other people. He ends up not doing that, because he gets sidetracked by being terrible at his job. A customer comes up to complain, and even though the customer is kind of a jerk, Brad responds professionally by using profanity and threatening him with violence. He’s fired. Because the movie writers wanted to make Brad’s senior year just terrible, his girlfriend then dumps him, using almost exactly the same line Brad was trying out at the beginning. He then gets fired from a second job because pirate costumes are stupid (for a more in-depth look, watch the movie. Am I supposed to tell you everything? I’m disappointed in you). But then, third time is the charm, because at his third job, at a mini-mart, he is held up a gunpoint. However, with a timely assist by Jeff Spicoli, he manages to thwart the thief and later become manager, so, live your dreams, ya know? What? Who’s Jeff Spicoli? Oh, it must be time for…..
Subplot three is perhaps the most fantastic one, because it is the one that involves the hero of the film. Jeff Spicoli is a drug using burnout with very few redeemable qualities. He is not the hero. The writers went with a gutsy move by making the hero in a teen movie an adult, but the protagonist is undoubtedly the U.S. history teacher Mr. Hand. He is one of only a few adults in this town which doesn’t seem to allow people over the age of thirty. At the beginning of the year, Spicoli saunters into his class tardy and high and seems surprised that this paragon of justice and virtue would apply the rules to him and shouts a profanity when Mr. Hand requests he go to the office. They both go on in their separate lives; Spicoli wrecks a car and fantasizes about surfing, while Mr. Hand continues teaching history. Want more proof that Mr. Hand is the protagonist? He starts teaching the Platt Amendment BEFORE CHRISTMAS. Yes, this man is some sort of history-superteacher. Spicoli continues to be delinquent, often being truant and showing a clear disregard for the rules by ordering a pizza in class when Mr. Hand clearly said that there would be no eating in his classroom. True, he said it at the beginning of the year when Spicoli lacked the social grace to show up, but I assume he repeated himself. Hand, though, acts deftly by offering the pizza to his good students and taking a slice for himself while Spicoli watches on. Towards the end of the year, while Spicoli is preparing for the graduation dance, Hand decides to pay him a visit at home and thus waste the same amount of Spicoli’s time as Spicoli did him. Everyone wins in the end, though, as Spicoli ends up with a fairly rudimentary understanding of the American Revolution and Hand reveals that Spicoli might actually pass his class.
So after reviewing the movie, did it live up to the hype as THE classic teen movie? I guess it did. There were teens in it, doing what teens do and being rather ignorant of things like “the law” and “consequences.” Would I recommend it? Sure, it was good for some laughs. Be warned, though, the family friendliness meter on this movie is reading in the negatives. I have mostly cleaned it up, in case some young’ns read this, but there is drug use, profanity, and sex. Don’t watch this with kids. Or parents, really. But watch it, nonetheless.
Note: This is a guest post by Patrick Rickert, who has not seen many movies and, long after the rest of his generation has seen them, is aiming to rectify that.