Fast Times At Ridgemont High
Universal Home Entertainment -
1982 - 90
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A popular movie choice in the 1980s was the bankable high school comedy/drama. If youï¿½ve seen Ferris Buellerï¿½s Day Off a few too many times, and Molly Ringwaldï¿½s 75 forays in the genre in that decade have you bored, perhaps Fast Times at Ridgemont High is the answer for you. A little racier (at least in the young exposed breasts department) than some of its contemporaries, Fast Times is the story of Jeff Spicoli (Sean Penn) and his desire to show up to as few classes as possible and still pass. Sharing the stage with the eloquent young stoner are many other youthful faces that went on to careers of varying success.
Spicoli is late again.
This teenybopper of a movie has it all. The young foolish crushes, the sexual tension, the ï¿½bigï¿½ life choices that face high school seniors. You know, the important stuff. Jennifer Jason Leigh and Brian Backer are the love-struck puppies that really have no clue. The impossibly cute Phoebe Cates and the suave Robert Romanus play the somewhat more experienced advisors to these two. Judge Reinhold is the slightly misguided but well-meaning older brother. Jeff Spicoli, as mentioned, is the pot-smoking slacker that never shows up to class on time, particularly the class of the gritty and tough Mr. Hand (Ray Walston).
While one subplot deals with issues like teenage sex, young lust, and other socially relevant topics, Spicoli and company investigate tardiness, surfing, marijuana, and suitable mid-period pizza toppings. The main focus of this movie is the interesting characters. They walk, talk, and act like 80s teens really did, a testament to the excellent writing of first-time screenwriter Cameron Crowe. Spicoliï¿½s dialogue is stereotypically awful and dead on at the same time. The issues these teens deal with are the very issues that teens today and teens for generations to come will be dealing with, thus supporting the timeless nature of the cult classic.
Throw in some assorted brief glimpses of Anthony Edwards, Eric Stoltz, and Nicolas Cage, and you have a cast that would cost you a not-so-small fortune to assemble for a job today. Let your inner child run wild through the halls of Ridgemont High with these kids. Though you likely wonï¿½t leave with any Earth-shattering new outlook on life, you should leave with a smile on your face. A little stupid and a lot goofy, Fast Times delivers the ï¿½inhale and hold itï¿½ perspective on high school life. Kill off a few brain cells before you start, and you should find yourself enjoying this older gem.
Presented in anamorphic 1.85:1, you could do a lot worse in the aspect ratio department. The colors on this one are good overall, though they do show their age in some scenes. The smooth lines throughout get a little soft at times, but are not wholly distracting. Skin tones are good but not great, as they come off as a little pasty in some scenes. The only other drawback that I noticed was some grain and scratches on some of the freeze frames I executed.
Not many DVDs offer the high accolades that a 2.0 mono transfer have to offer. After watching this movie, youï¿½ll understand why. Youï¿½d be just as well to just let your television do the talking here. Though the 80s soundtrack is great, the rear speakers, and even the front left and right are essentially nonexistent. The center is very hot, and is really the only speaker in play. The voices sound fairly canned throughout, with only some minor scenes with reverb paying any dividends at all. Donï¿½t expect a spacious sound stage, because you wonï¿½t be getting it.
Despite its twenty plus year age, this DVD does not suffer the same pathetic fate that other discs of the decade have succumbed to. Though not a treasure trove of features, this disc is far from naked. Newer titles have done far less, and Iï¿½m glad this one didnï¿½t get the strictly minimalist treatment. There are a few (not to hard to find) Easter eggs that are worth a look, and the documentary is decent for what it is. The commentary track is also fairly noteworthy, another Crowe bonus. The menu is well themed, with some interesting movie-specific transitions. The scene selection is a bit sub-par, but in whole the supplements add a fair amount, especially considering the age of the material and the single disc release.
THE BOTTOM LINE
ï¿½Surfs up, dude!ï¿½ A ride through a day in the life of a Southern California teen, Fast Times at Ridgemont High should be just as fun this time around. Itï¿½s a definite rental, and worth ownership for this viewer.
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