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Fast Times at Ridgemont High

"What are you waiting for? You’re 15 years old!”

Cameron Crowe already had success as a writer when he went undercover and posed as a high school student to write his book “Fast Times at Ridgemont High: A True Story.” Of course, he was high school age so it made perfect sense. Perhaps that’s why the film adapted from his book feels so authentic of the time and of these youths portrayed. And perhaps part of that is because of how first-time director Amy Heckerling approached the subject matter – for a teen sex comedy, this is actually carrying some fairly heavy themes. But how well do these themes work for us? Turns out they work really well for Andy but not as well for Pete.

Still, it’s a nostalgic flashback to our own youths! Join us – Pete Wright and Andy Nelson – as we kick off our 10th season with the ‘80s Comedy with Coolidge & Heckerling’ series, starting with Heckerling’s 1982 film Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

Here’s a hint at what we talk about in this episode looking at Heckerling’s film.

The film completely brings us back to our younger days with popped collars and bigger hair. The story, however, doesn’t completely work for Pete because it’s spread across too many characters and we don’t get enough time to really connect with any of them. Andy feels the story completely works and operates well as a depiction of the adult world these kids are starting to deal with. Perhaps the problem is that the filmmakers seemed to feel that Jeff Spicoli, played by Sean Penn, was the lead when in reality, it seems to be Stacy’s film (played by Jennifer Jason Leigh).

Regardless, it’s an incredible cast of young actors from the day – a good number in their first roles – and they all do great. There are some strong scenes that carry a lot of weight, but perhaps not enough payoff for them? The music is great and the look completely feels right. Heckerling approaches the film from a matter-of-fact perspective that makes the situations feel real, but perhaps that’s also why it’s harder to connect.

But it’s a film that has a lot more to it than many other teen sex comedies from the decade and to that end, this one definitely stands out. We have a great time talking about it as we kick off our new season. Check it out then tune in! The Next Reel – when the movie ends, our conversation begins!

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