Filled with high school drama, hilarity, and just the right amount of cringe-worthy moments, Fast Times at Ridgemont High will have you feeling nostalgic, even if you didn’t go to high school in the 80s. Following the lives of a group of high schoolers, this film immediately takes you back to your teenage years, working at some local spot and hoping that your crush feels the same way about you.
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The likes of Stacy Hamilton, Mark “Rat” Ratner, Mike Damone, Brad Hamilton, and Jeff Spicoli take audiences on a wild ride. Each of the students has a job at some classic high school employer such as Perry’s Pizza Parlor or the mall movie theater, but the main focus for all of them is the ups and downs of various high school relationships.
Brad, a senior, is a supervisor at All-American Burger, a popular hangout spot. When the movie starts, his biggest worry is paying off his car, finishing out the year, and figuring out a way to break up with his long-time girlfriend, Lisa. His younger sister, Stacy, is focused on hooking up with guys and not much else. Jeff Spicoli, a classmate of Brad’s and the notorious “stoner kid” is just trying to pass history and rid himself of high school work.
Mark Ratner is a bit nerdy but works in close proximity to Stacy at the mall, and they end up as lab partners in school. Getting tips from his more experienced friend, Mike Damone, Rat works up the courage to ask Stacy on a date and she accepts. The date goes well, but Rat panics when Stacy takes him back to her house to hook-up, making Stacy think that he’s not that into her.
One day, Brad loses his job at All-American Burger after a con-man customer makes Brad’s boss believe that Brad insulted him and refused to refund his money. Devastated, Brad gets a job at Captain Hook Fish and Chips, but that is short-lived when he quits after getting laughed at for the ridiculous pirate costume he has to wear. As if things could get any worse, Brad tells his girlfriend Lisa that he needs her now more than ever, only for her to break up with him, citing that she wants to see different people before college.
Spicoli is off joyriding in a car that doesn’t belong to him, and he crashes the car when swerving to avoid oncoming traffic. Not sure what to do, he frames the rival football team, leaving the car vandalized in front of the school. The car belonged to Charles Jefferson, Ridgemont High’s star quarterback, and after blaming the rival team for its damage, he single-handedly defeats them and injures their quarterback.
After Stacy and Mark didn’t work out, Mark’s friend, Mike Damone, has sex with Stacy. She gets pregnant from this encounter and the pair decide an abortion is the best option. Damone struggles to come up with the money to help pay for the abortion and fails to pick Stacy up for her appointment. Stacy catches a ride with Brad to a bowling alley and goes to the clinic from there, which Brad notices. This experience brings the siblings together, but Damone and Ratner cut ties due to the tension between the two friends.
At the end of the film, Stacy and Mark get another chance at romance and Spicoli ends up passing history. Brad finds a new job at a convenience store where he stops a robber, becoming a local hero. The legacies of these students aren’t exactly brag-worthy, but hey, they made it through high school.
Fun Facts About the Film
- The writer of the film spent time undercover at a real high school to do research for the movie.
- Though this film was an absolute success, raking in $27 million, its sequel was a flop, bringing in only $11 million.
- Video store owners noticed that the VHS tapes they were renting out were unusually worn our at the point of the topless scene. No surprises there!
- The shoemaker, Vans, credits this film as the main reason their brand became so popular with mainstream teens.
- The role of Linda was first offered to Justine Bateman, who turned it down so that she could star in Family Ties
- Nicolas Cage was 17 when he appeared in this movie. He originally lied about his age to get a bigger role but producers found out about his lie. This was Cage’s first paid acting job
- The role of Mr Hand was originally offered to Fred Gwynne (Herman Munster) but he declined the part because of the movie’s sexual content
- Fast Times at Ridgemont High took only 5 weeks to film
- Tom Hanks was considered for the role of Brad but the unknown star at the time didn’t get it
- Nancy Wilson from the rock band Heart made a non-speaking cameo in the film
Fast Times at Ridgemont High Cast:
- Sean Penn – Jeff Spicoli
- Jennifer Jason Leigh – Stacy Hamilton
- Judge Reinhold – Brad Hamilton
- Phoebe Cates – Linda Barrett
- Robert Romanus – Mike Damone
- Brian Backer – Mark ‘Rat’ Ratner
- Forest Whitaker – Charles Jefferson
- Ray Walston – Mr. Hand
- Scott Thomson – Arnold
- Vincent Schiavelli- Mr. Vargas
- Amanda Wyss – Lisa
- D.W. Brown – Ron Johnson
- Kelli Maroney – Cindy
- Tom Nolan – Dennis Taylor
- Blair Tefkin – Pat Bernardo
- Eric Stoltz – Stoner Bud
- Stanley Davis Jr. – Jefferson’s Brother
- James Russo – Robber
- James Bolt – Greg
- Nicolas Cage – Brad’s Bud
- Reginald Farmer – Vice Principal
- Anthony Edwards – Stoner Bud
- Pamela Springsteen – Dina Phillips
- Julie Guilmette – Perry’s Pizza Waitress
- Shelly O’Neill – Perry’s Pizza Waitress
- Stu Nahan – Stu Nahan
- Nancy Wilson – Cute girl in car
Fast Times at Ridgemont High had an incredible ensemble cast with some familiar faces, while others became big names later on. It starred Sean Penn, who played the infamous Jeff Spicoli, and Jennifer Jason Leigh, who played Stacy Hamilton. Other notable actors in the film include Judge Reinhold, Phoebe Cates, Forest Whitaker, and Nicolas Cage (whose real name is Nicolas Coppola).
The Film’s Director:
The film was directed by Amy Heckerling, who went on to direct the hit film Clueless. Heckerling brings a unique perspective to high school films, and it shows in this classic coming-of-age story. She also directed another classic teen movie, Look Who’s Talking.
Fast Times at Ridgemont High is known for its iconic soundtrack, which features some of the biggest hits from the ‘80s. The film features music from The Go-Go’s, Jackson Browne, Tom Petty, and Donna Summer. The soundtrack was so successful that it reached platinum status, selling more than one million copies.
Inspiration for the Film:
Fast Times at Ridgemont High was based on a book by Cameron Crowe, who went undercover as a high school student to write a book about his experiences. The book was later adapted into the movie that we all know and love.
Overall, Fast Times at Ridgemont High is a timeless classic that still resonates with audiences today. It’s a perfect combination of laughs, drama, and heart, making it a must-watch for anyone who loves high school movies. So if you haven’t seen it yet, grab some popcorn and get ready for a wild ride through the halls of Ridgemont High.