Fast Times At Ridgemont High
Fast Times at Ridgemont High is a 1982 American coming-of-age teen-comedy film written by Cameron Crowe (adapted from his book) and directed by Amy Heckerling. The film follows a school year in the lives of freshman Stacy Hamilton (Jennifer Jason Leigh), freshman Mark Ratner (Brian Backer) and their respective friends Linda Barrett (Phoebe Cates) and Mike Damone (Robert Romanus) who believe themselves wise in the ways of romance and counsel their younger counterparts. The ensemble cast of characters also includes Jeff Spicoli (Sean Penn), a perpetually stoned surfer who faces off against uptight history teacher Mr. Hand (Ray Walston), who is convinced that all of his students smoke marijuana. Stacy's brother, Brad (Judge Reinhold), is a popular senior who works at a local burger joint.
It includes early appearances by several actors who would later become stars, including Sean Penn, Eric Stoltz, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Nicolas Cage, Anthony Edwards, Forest Whitaker, and Judge Reinhold. Notably, three of the actors who appeared in the film - Cage, Penn, and Whitaker - would win an Academy Award for Best Actor later on in their careers.
Crowe himself would soon become a celebrated Hollywood director and screenwriter, eventually winning an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for his movie Almost Famous.
Several scenes have entered pop culture, the most famous of which is a fantasy sequence in which Cates exits a pool and removes her bright red bikini top in slow motion to the beat of The Cars' "Moving in Stereo".
Stacy Hamilton (Leigh) is a naïve high school freshman who works at a mall pizzeria with the more sexually experienced Linda Barrett (Cates). Mark Ratner (Backer) also works in the mall, as "assistant to the assistant manager" of the movie theater. His friend Mike Damone (Romanus) -- who also hangs out at the mall scalping rock concert tickets -- believes himself to be both worldly and wise in the ways of women. Stacy's brother Brad (Reinhold) is a popular senior who saved enough from his long-time gig at All-American Burger to buy a blue 1960 Buick LeSabre. Partier Jeff Spicoli (Penn) hotboxes in a Volkswagen Microbus before the final bell rings for the start of a new school year.
The sexually-curious Stacy initially hooks up with a much older home stereo salesman from an electronics retailer at the Mall. He provides her first sexual experiences, but it is seen as less than pleasant in many respects. In time, he stops calling and Stacy seeks other relationships.
Stacy and nerdy Mark Ratner end up sharing a biology class. Eventually Mark asks Stacy out and receives pointers from his friend Mike the scalper. One of many romance tips is to play side one of Led Zeppelin IV, but we soon hear "Kashmir" from the band's 1975 double album Physical Graffiti as Mark and Stacy drive to a restaurant. (Due to a licensing snafu, the producers were unable to gain clearances to use songs from Led Zeppelin IV) The date goes well despite Mark forgetting his wallet at home, and the tape deck being stolen from his sister's vehicle during their dinner.
Meanwhile, Spicoli drinks beer and smokes marijuana as he joyrides in a 1979 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 owned by Charles Jefferson (Whitaker), star of the football team. The car is a gift from a grateful alumnus, and Jefferson's little brother (also along for the ride) is concerned about its well-being. Of course, Spicoli manages to wreck the car -- but promises that he can "fix it." The next day at school, a large crowd gathers around the front entrance where Jefferson's totaled car is covered in graffiti making it look as if the rival high school, Lincoln, destroyed it as a prank. Jefferson vents his anger out on the Lincoln football team that night, winning the game and sending Lincoln's quarterback out of the game on a stretcher.
Brad loses his cherished job at All American Burger in a dispute with an unsatisfied customer and is forced to take a new job at a Long John Silvers-styled fish restaurant. Employees are forced to wear a degrading Pirate costume, and Brad soon quits this job in disgust.
Spicoli manages to annoy Mr. Hand (Ray Walston), his American History teacher, in a series of amusing sketches. In the end, it appears that Mr. Hand won't allow Spicoli to advance to the next grade, but the teacher relents, telling the stoned surfer that he'll probably "squeak by." This is good enough for Spicoli, who, as we learn at the end of the movie, only needs "some tasty waves and cool bud" and he's fine.
Stacy is unhappy that Mark is taking so long to hop into bed with her, and winds up sleeping with his friend Mike after a pool party. Soon, it is revealed that she is pregnant, though it is never established whether the pregnancy results from sleeping with Mike or her earlier tryst with the home electronics salesman. While Stacy tells Mike the baby is his, since Stacy reveals her pregnancy almost immediately after sleeping with Mike, it is possible she already knew she was pregnant and is using Mike for financial support for an abortion. Mike is unable to come up with half the money to pay for it. She can't even get him to provide a ride to the clinic. In the end, her Brother Brad takes her, and her friend Linda does her best to spread rumors that disparage Mike's manhood as revenge.
Mike and Mark get into a nasty fight over Stacy, and they stop talking. They ultimately meet up at a dance and become friends again though. Stacy gives a demure photo of herself to Mark and makes it clear that she'd like to begin seeing him again. Then we see Brad at his new job at a local Mini Mart. A thief walks in the door with a pistol and tells Brad to give him the money in the safe. Spicoli distracts the thief just long enough for Brad to throw hot coffee in the robber's face and capture him, becoming a local hero.
During the end credits, we see what happens to the students in the future:
* Brad becomes manager of the Mi-T-Mart.
* Mike is busted for scalping Ozzy Osbourne tickets, and now works at 7-11.
* Linda goes to college in Riverside, California and ends up living with her abnormal psychology professor.
* Stacy and Mark are now a happy couple but they still haven't "gone all the way."
* Mr. Hand is convinced all of his students are on dope.
* Jeff Spicoli saves Brooke Shields from drowning and is given a sizable reward, which he blows hiring Van Halen to play at his birthday party.
There are several extra scenes not shown on the U.S. DVD version. Most of these scenes are shown on the cable versions. They include:
1. Brad's friends warning Stacy about Mr. Hand before school starts.
2. An extended scene with Stacy and Linda in the mall with a girl approaching Linda asking her about different ways of safe sex because she doesn't have protection.
3. Brad throwing away an old batch of fries and is questioned by his boss.
4. Stacy in the abortion clinic. She is shown lying on the table, and asking if this will be as painful as having the baby.
5. Mike and Rattner talk about what to do on a date and Damone telling Ratt to play Led Zeppelin IV. This scene is followed by a scene in which Linda and Stacy are talking on the phone and they are in their bra and panties. In this conversation Linda warns Stacy about the Led Zeppelin IV seduction technique.
6. Brad talking with a guidance counselor about his life.
7. Brad ripping down a Coca-Cola poster in his bedroom after getting fired.
8. Mr. Hand signing students' yearbooks at the school dance.
9. Extended dialogue in the "no shirt, no shoes, no dice" scene, in which Spicoli says "I have uno nickel-ette. ..and a pick" and makes up a story of how Mick Jagger gave him that pick.
10. An extra scene of Linda comforting Stacy after she tells Linda that she might be pregnant after her tryst with Mike.
11. Spicoli and two of his buddies are in the bathroom and Spicoli is telling an overly fantastic version of the incident, about how he told Mr. Hand not to mess with him or there would be trouble.
* Sean Penn as Jeff Spicoli
* Jennifer Jason Leigh as Stacy Hamilton
* Judge Reinhold as Brad Hamilton
* Robert Romanus as Mike Damone
* Brian Backer as Mark "Rat" Ratner
* Phoebe Cates as Linda Barrett
* Ray Walston as Mr. Hand
* Vincent Schiavelli as Mr. Vargas
* Lana Clarkson as Mrs. Vargas
* Forest Whitaker as Charles Jefferson
* Eric Stoltz as Stoner Bud
* Anthony Edwards as Stoner Bud
* Stanley Davis Jr. as Jefferson's brother
* James Russo as Convenience store robber
* Nicolas Cage as Brad's Bud (credited as Nicolas Coppola)
* Nancy Wilson as Beautiful girl in Corvette
* Kelli Maroney as Cindy
The soundtrack album, Fast Times at Ridgemont High: Music from the Motion Picture, was a hit, selling more than a million copies. It peaked at #54 on the Billboard album chart. Several songs were released as singles, including Jackson Browne's "Somebody's Baby", which reached #7 on the Billboard Top 40 pop singles chart. Other singles were the title track by Sammy Hagar, "So Much in Love" by Timothy B. Schmit and "Waffle Stomp" by Joe Walsh.
In addition to Schmit and Walsh, the album features solo tracks by two other members of the The Eagles, Don Henley and Don Felder. Amy Heckerling, in the DVD audio commentary, states that the 70's "classic rock" artists like the Eagles were the Producer's idea. For her part, she was more interested in the L.A. New Wave sounds of Oingo Boingo and the Go-Gos which she felt were more popular among kids of that era.
Among the songs in the film that do not appear on the album include The Cars' "Moving in Stereo", Tom Petty's "American Girl", and a piano version of Strangers in the Night which plays in the background at the German restaurant.
Another song not on the album is "Kashmir" by Led Zeppelin, a band that is highly selective in licensing its songs for use in films. Crowe was later able to use several Zeppelin tracks in Almost Famous, including "The Rain Song" and "That's the Way".
1. "Somebody's Baby" (Jackson Browne) - 4:05
2. "Waffle Stomp" (Joe Walsh) - 3:40
3. "Love Rules" (Don Henley) - 4:05
4. "Uptown Boys" (Louise Goffin) - 2:45
5. "So Much in Love" (Timothy B. Schmit) - 2:25
6. "Raised on the Radio" (The Rayvns) - 3:43
7. "The Look in Your Eyes" (Gerard McMahon) - 4:00
8. "We Got the Beat" (The Go-Go's) - 2:11
9. "Don't Be Lonely" (Quarterflash) - 3:18
10. "Never Surrender" (Don Felder) - 4:15
11. "Fast Times (The Best Years of Our Lives)" (Billy Squier) - 3:41
12. "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" (Sammy Hagar) - 3:36
13. "I Don't Know (Spicoli's Theme)" (Jimmy Buffett) - 3:00
14. "Love Is the Reason" (Graham Nash) - 3:31
15. "I'll Leave It up to You" (Poco) - 2:55
16. "Highway Runner" (Donna Summer) - 3:18
* Was to be featured on Summer's album, I'm a Rainbow, but was shelved by her record label at the time. Its appearance on this soundtrack was an exclusive for Summer fans.
17. "Sleeping Angel" (Stevie Nicks) - 3:55
18. "She's My Baby (And She's Outta Control)" (Jost Palmer) - 2:53
19. "Goodbye, Goodbye" (Oingo Boingo) - 4:34
20. "Everybody's Girl" (Rick Springfield)
The film is adapted from a book Crowe wrote after a year spent at Clairemont High School in San Diego, California. He went undercover to do research for his 1981 book Fast Times at Ridgemont High: A True Story, about his observations of the high school and the students he befriended there.
Heckerling shepherded the young cast, which included Nicolas Cage in his first feature-film role. He was credited as Nicolas Coppola for the first and only time. It was also the film debut for Eric Stoltz and provided early roles for Anthony Edwards and Forrest Whitaker. Crowe's girlfriend at the time, and later, wife, Nancy Wilson of Heart, has a cameo as "Beautiful girl in Corvette".
Fast Times was filmed in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles (although it is never explicitly mentioned as such in the film), and many people identify the movie with that area and the teen culture that existed there, or was perceived to exist there, in the early 1980s. "Ridgemont" is a fictional name; there is no California community by that name. Crowe likely named it after Clairemont High School in San Diego. Most of the exteriors of Ridgemont High School were shot at Van Nuys High School, and other scenes were shot at Canoga Park High School. The "Ridgemont Mall" shown in the film was actually the Sherman Oaks Galleria, with its exterior shot at Santa Monica Place. The actual mall has since been converted to an open-air mall. "The Point" was filmed at the Encino Little League Field in Encino.
Universal Pictures gave it a limited theatrical release on August 13, 1982, opening in 498 theaters. It earned $2.5 million in its opening weekend. The release was later widened to 713 theaters, earning $3.25 million and ranking 29th among US releases in 1982. The movie has since earned more than $27 million, six times its $4.5 million budget, gaining popularity through television showings and home video releases, leading to some what of a cult following.
The film has an 82% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. However, it was panned by critics at the time. Roger Ebert called it a "scuz-pit of a movie", though he praised the performances by Leigh, Penn, Cates and Reinhold. Janet Maslin wrote that it was "a jumbled but appealing teen-age comedy with something of a fresh perspective on the subject."
Crowe's screenplay was nominated for a WGA Award for best comedy adapted from another medium. The film was added in 2005 to the list of films preserved in the United States National Film Registry. The film ranks #87 on the AFI's 100 Years... 100 Laughs list, is #15 on Bravo's "100 Funniest Movies" and is #2 on Entertainment Weekly's list of the "50 Best High School Movies".
The movie inspired a short-lived 1986 television series called Fast Times. Ray Walston and Vincent Schiavelli reprised their roles, respectively as Mr. Hand and Mr. Vargas, the biology teacher. Other cast members were Courtney Thorne-Smith as Stacey, Wally Ward as Mark, Claudia Wells as Linda, Patrick Dempsey as Mike, Dean Cameron as Spicoli and James Nardini as Brad.
Moon Unit Zappa provided "teenage consultation" for this TV series. She was hired in order to research slang terms and mannerisms of teenagers, as she had just graduated high school at the time and had a much better grasp of then-current high school behavior than the writers.
* The fantasy sequence involving Cates removing her red bikini top has been parodied several times. Jimmy Kimmel played the part of Cates to Adam Carolla's Brad on The Man Show. It was also re-enacted in the movie, Kids in America (2005) in a sequence in which the teenage couple, Holden Donovan (Gregory Smith) and Charlotte Pratt (Stephanie Sherrin) attempt to recreate a number of ‘Greatest On-screen Kisses’. Fountains of Wayne paid tribute by casting Rachel Hunter in the Cates role for the video of their single "Stacy's Mom". Pop-punk band Fenix*TX performs a song called "Phoebe Cates" with the lyrics: "I've been in love since the day I saw 'Fast Times,'/It's on a permanent rewind and can you guess my favorite part?" According to the DVD extras, many video store owners reported that VHS copies of the film had tracking errors during Cates's famous scene. The sequence ranked No. 1 on a list of the top 100 nude scenes compiled by Mrskin.com.
* The film's title inspired Vernor Vinge's Hugo Award-winning short story "Fast Times at Fairmont High". The bikini sequence was also referenced in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation when Clark W. Griswold is daydreaming out of the window about his soon-to-be-installed swimming pool.
* An episode of the animated comedy TV series Family Guy was loosely based on the film, including a Mr. Vargas character and a parody of the Phoebe Cates sequence with Tom Tucker diving in the pool and then taking off his suit and kissing Meg. Also, in "Let's Go to the Hop", Peter sneaks out of his bedroom in the same manner (and to the same music) as Stacy did when going on her date with Ron. A later episode was named "Fast Times at Buddy Cianci Jr. High", a parody of the movie's title. Still another episode featuries a cut to Spicoli after an outrageous action by Mort Goldman, saying "Awesome, Totally awesome! Alright, Goldman!" a slightly altered version of the film's last line.
* In the sitcom Scrubs, series protagonist JD has a fantasy about an attractive nurse walking down the hall in a way similar to that of the bikini scene.
* At the conclusion of the fourth episode of Clerks: The Animated Series, there is a scene where Judge Reinhold throws coffee in a robber's face, and is threatened with a lawsuit - a parody of the film's ending. Also referenced in Clerks II is "Train Wreck!" - making-of video "The 80's Ending."
* In the Season Two finale of the animated comedy TV series The Venture Brothers, Showdown at Cremation Creek (Part II), during the coup attempt by the character Phantom Limb, rock star Iggy Pop, who is attending the wedding as a bodyguard for David Bowie, is referred to by The Monarch as "Spicoli" in reference to his resemblance to the character
* The song "Fast Times at Drop-Out High" from the album End is Forever by The Ataris plays off the title.
* Near the beginning of the movie, right after Mr. Hand sends Spicoli to the front office for being late to class, he passes out the class schedule of quizzes. After the paper is passed out, the students put the page up to their noses and deeply inhale. This was a popular school ritual of the 60's, 70's and early 80's as photocopying machines were very expensive, so spirit duplicators, more commonly referred to as "ditto machines," were used. The spirit duplicators used a colored wax as the "ink" and an alcohol-based solvent as a transfer agent to impress the ink on the paper. These solvents sometimes took a long time to dry, hence the students use of these solvents as a short-term "high".
* In each scene which takes place in Mr. Hand's history class, he is attempting to teach the students about the Platt Amendment.
* Throughout the entire production, Penn would be in character as Spicoli whether on-camera or not.
* According to National Public Radio, it is U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates' favorite film.
* The film was offered to the film-noir director David Lynch, who agreed that the script was funny, but not "his thing".
* Ashlee Simpson has described her video for her song 'La La' as being loosely based on the film.
* Jeff Spicoli is referenced by The Suicide Machines on "The Vans Song" where they advise people to "worship Jeff Spicoli not Chris Cornell".
* The character of Mrs. Vargas was played by actress Lana Clarkson, who was found dead of a gunshot wound in the home of record producer Phil Spector on February 3, 2003.
* Just before Stacy tells Mike she is pregnant, we see him trying to sell a girl tickets to a Cheap Trick concert, even using pieces of their work to convince her: he says to her, "I Want You to Want Me", and then sings some verses of "Surrender".