Wednesday, November 23, 2011
FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH
(August 1982, U.S.)
Somewhere during the latter part of my high school education in the early 1980s, I discovered my love for the music of Led-Zeppelin. This was AFTER I saw FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH. I point this out because it was due to watching this film that I actually thought that "Kashmir" was on the album "Led-Zeppelin IV" because the character of Mike Damone tells Mark Ratner that "When it comes down to making out, whenever possible, put on side one of Led Zeppelin IV." and the scene that immediately follows features "Kashmir" playing in the car on Mark's first date with Stacy Hamilton. I eventually learned otherwise.
So you see, it's just like I've pointed out before, certain films are what you make of them in terms of your own personal memories and feelings about them. For myself, FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH was not about seeing it in the movie theater at the time of its original release, but rather one year later when I began my sophmore year at high school and the film was playing on every pay-cable channel for repeated viewing. Try to imagine an entire school full of pubescent young males constantly quoting the lines of Jeff Spicoli (played by a young and talented Sean Penn) like "Hey bud, let's party!", "People on 'ludes should not drive" and "That was my skull! I'm so wasted!" Ah yes, it was a wonderful time for silly film quotations and silly high school teenage sex comedies, in general! A film like FAST TIMES is the reason I don't go for AMERICAN PIE movies or something like THE HANGOVER. Been there, done that, and it was much better in my time!
Now what I've found quite interesting in the nearly thrity years since this film came out is how much I've learned about it that I didn't know back then. For instance, I had no idea who Cameron Crowe was and that he'd actually gone undercover as a high school student in order to write his original book that FAST TIMES is based on. I had no idea until recently that the pretty blonde girl driving the car and laughing at Brad Hamilton's fast food pirate hat was actually Nancy Wilson of Heart who would later become Crowe's wife (and then EX-wife). It even took me a few years to realize that the entire Jeff Spicoli surfing sequence was actually just a dream (Hey, I thought he was just that good!).
Recalling FAST TIMES, as well as others like it such as PORKY'S (1982) and SPRING BREAK (1983) recalls a time when high school and college were a source of absolute antics and fun times with the right amount of tits and ass to entertain (and perhaps educate) young horny men who had yet to lose their virginity. This was before John Hughes would take over and show us the more serious and dramatic side of our high school experiences. Still, even now it's always nice to return to the wild sexual element of the young "coming-of-age" side of adolescence and remember a time when a young, horny man like myself was just waiting in anticipation for the day he would one day have sex for the first time and constantly pausing the videotape at the exact moment when Phoebe Cates and Jennifer Jason Leigh took off their tops and treated me to full frontal nudity...
(Oh right, like all you guys reading this post never did THAT at least once when you were younger!)
In fact, did you know that a constant problem with VHS rental copies of FAST TIMES in the 1980s was that there was very often a visual glitch on the tape ribbon at the exact moment when Cates takes off her red bikini top because young, horny men were constantly pausing the videotape and...well, you can guess! You know, I wonder if Stacy and Rat ever eventually "went all the way"?
Favorite line or dialogue:
Stu Nahan: "Hello everybody! I'm Stu Nahan, and I'd like you to meet this young man. His name, Jeff Spicoli. And Jeff, congratulations to you. Things looked kind of rough out there today."
Jeff Spicoli: "Well, I'll tell you Stu, I did battle some humongous waves! But you know, just like I told the guy on ABC, "Danger is my business!"
Stu: "You know, a lot of people expected maybe Mark "Cutback" Davis or Bob "Jungle Death" Gerrard would take the honors this year."
Jeff: "Those guys are fags!"
Stu: "That's fantastic! Let me ask you a question. When you get out there, do you ever fear for your life?"
Jeff: "Well Stu I'll tell you, surfing's not a sport, it's a way of life, you know, a hobby. It's a way of looking at that wave and saying, "Hey bud, let's party!" Where'd you get this jacket?"
Stu: "I got this from the network. Let me ask you a question. What's next for Jeff Spicoli?"
Jeff: "Heading over to the Australian and Hawaiian internationals, and then me and Mick are going to wing on over to London and jam with the Stones! And you guys are invited too!"