Review: Fast Times at Ridgemont High

Monday, Dec. 2, 2013

Roll: 1,2. Result: Review, Movie.

Ah, interesting. The ol’ movie review. I suppose I’ll have to watch one now 😀

Fast Times at Ridgemont High

Director: Amy Heckerling, Writer: Cameron Crowe

Usually I have a problem with older movies, because the jokes are outdated, or the acting is just so unrealistic that I can’t get absorbed. Maybe Fast Times at Ridgemont High isn’t old enough to have these problems for me, but I absolutely loved it. I’d never seen it before, in its entirety, at least, but tonight I definitely saw the whole thing, and I definitely loved it from the opening sequence to the end!

The soundtrack definitely has a lot to do with my love for the movie. Every song is so energetic, but also by now a complete classic, so the movie instantly has this feel of being a good time, and not needing to prove itself. The first half-hour of the movie, filled with feel-good music and the consequence-free shenanigans of a bunch of fun-loving highschoolers, can’t be construed as anything but fun. And yet the characters are convincing, if at the very least as pure archetypes.

The tension between the awkward character of Mark Ratner and his crush Stacy, throughout their date, is extremely palpable, and very true. While the older characters get away with their confidence and overdeveloped characters because of their age, the freshmen are vulnerable and honest, bumping their way through the hurdles of adolescence. It’s when the older characters dip down into the freshman world that they prove their humanity, if they ever needed to. The multiplicity of characters and narratives are wound seamlessly into one total expression of the prototypical high school experience, although it’s more of a grand life experience. It’s a fast time, and it works incredibly well in the hour-and-a-half film.

I also enjoyed the apparent lack of adults. I don’t recall seeing anyone’s parents, but there were occasionally figures of authority. Specifically, Mr. Hand, the stern history teacher who goes head-to-head with stoner Sean Penn, and a couple of Brad’s bosses, who appear only when he’s doing something wrong. There’s also Mr. Vargas, though he is portrayed as a somewhat absent-minded guy, so I don’t think he counts. They go through a whole school year just having fun being kids, rebelling, trying to get theirs. And for the most part everyone succeeds. It’s a hopeful, pleasant, and appeasing experience throughout.

And boy does it make malls look like fun. I loved it. I’m surprised I waited this long to see it.

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