«No shirt, no shoes, no dice!»
Bust out your checkered Vans and get ready for FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH! Based on 22 year-old screenwriter Cameron Crowe's (yes, JERRY MAGUIRE/SAY ANYTHING…/ALMOST FAMOUS Cameron Crowe) experiences posing as a high school senior while reporting for Rolling Stone. The magazine piece quickly turned into a novel as Crowe found the people and events happening around him in the California high school were too interesting and important to be edited down.
While everything in the movie is based on authentic events it’s interesting that FAST TIMES is populated by the familiar cast of stoners, preppies, jocks, nerds, and mall-crawling prom princesses. So this wasn’t a group of defined cliques made up by studio execs, but an actual representation to high school life in the ‘80s. Everywhere in America the halls were packed with countless entertaining stereotypes.
And you can sense the honesty as the film manages to remain distinguished from similar teen-centric fare through a remarkably frank treatment of sexuality and its lack of overall pandering to the age group it represents. Very little of this era was accurately documented, with the glowing exception of FAST TIMES.
It’s also amazing, and been well-documented, how much young talent is housed in this teen classic: Jennifer Jason Leigh, Phoebe Cates, Judge Reinhold, Forest Whitaker, Nicolas Cage, and, of course, Sean Penn.
This rampaging chronicle of post-adolescent triumph, agony and hilarity is right on the money. Come be transported on a big screen adventure to the days when music raged, teens were uncaged, and Penn hadn’t gotten ruined by all that silly “dignity” crap.