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RetroVision | Fast Times at Ridgemont High

Written by  Published September 21, 2012 12:01
Hey Bud, Let's Party! My buddy Mike Ramirez has once again stepped up to the plate in his intriguing column Feedback and has taken on  Marijuana legalization. Mike looks at both sides and gives compelling evidence to why it should be legal. How I feel on the issue really has no relevance to anyone besides me, but if I was voting (which I refuse to do) in one of those states that have this on the ballot, I wouldn't be voting no. That's beside the point though. Retro if you haven't notice lately mirrors Mike's Feedback column, so I found myself needing to find a Retro that goes along with a column about Marijuana. What did I come up with? One of my favorite movies of all time although it's not a family friendly movie (I do watch some movies that aren't), I picked Fast Times at Ridgemont High!

All I need are some tasty waves, a cool buzz, and I'm fine.

...Jeff Spicoli

Fast Times was based on a book by a freelance writer for Rolling Stone Magazine named Cameron Crowe. Cameron went "undercover" at Clairmont High School in San Diego, California for one year then wrote a book about it.

The movie was produced and distributed by Universal Pictures in 1982 to limited release taking 2.5 million at the box office. That was successful at that time so it got expanded release earning an additional 3.25 million with final earnings of 27 million or six times it's 4.5 million dollar budget.

Fast Times was filmed around the San Fernando Valley area of LA with the exteriors being shot at Van Nuys High School, with other scenes being filmed at Canoga Park High and Torrance High Schools. The Mall scenes were filmed at the Sherman Oaks Galleria and Santa Monica Place. The "Point" was filmed at the Encino Little League Field in Encino California.

Besides the cast which we will get to Fast Times also gave movie breaks to Nicolas Cage who was credited as Nicolas Coppola for the first and only time. Eric Stoltz, Anthony Edwards, Forrest Whitaker, and Nancy Wilson of Heart also had their first movie debuts.

Mr. Hand isn't it OK to have a little food on our time?

...Jeff Spicoli

Fast Times at Ridgemont High centers around 6 kids and a teacher. It is about their lives for one year of high school and the problems and discoveries they have and make during that period of time.

Stacy Hamilton (Jennifer Jason Leigh) is the younger sister of Brad. Stacy is looking to become a grown up as Fast as possible, and does what it takes to do so. At 15 she is worried about her appearance (folks we are ruining our kids with this crap), her experience, and everything else and thinks she will never meet or have a relationship with a guy. She hooks up with a 26 year old stereo salesman who deflowers her at a baseball field and never speaks to her again.

Later she meets Mark Ratner (Brian Backer) who really likes her but he like her is young and has no "on-hands" experience with girls. They go out on a date and when they get home Stacy puts the moves on Mark who fumbles the ball leaving both embarrassed. Mark's friend Mike Damone (Robert Romanus) who isn't really anybody's friend but his own takes Stacy home where they end up in the pool house,have sex (which lasts for under a minute) and Stacy gets pregnant.

Mike fails to live up to his part and Stacy ends up getting a ride to a clinic from her brother Brad (Judge Reinhold) by telling him she is going bowling. Brad puts two and two together sees her crossing the street to the clinic and stays to take her home. Stacy tells her best friend Linda (Phoebe Cates) who spray paints Mike's car with some truly funny things.

Intersped throughout the movie is Brad's senior year. Brad is a "single successful guy", except he's not single and he works at a burger joint. Like most of us guys he thinks he has it all figured out at 18.

He gets fired for yelling at a customer, takes another job where he has to dress like a pirate, all to just pay off his car. He gets dumped by his girl (who he was thinking of dumping), he gets caught priming the pump by Linda, foils a hold up at the convenience store he is working at, and takes care of his little sister.

Then there is Spicoli (Sean Penn) and Mr Hand (Ray Walston). Spicoli is the stoner kid from high school, he cares little for the world around him thinking only of the three basics surfing, eating, and getting high. He is the epitome of care free, and can only be brought to this world by what he judges as harsh treatment.

Mr Hand is the teacher who wants to reach kids and he is the harsh in Spicoli's world. They do battle over the course of the year, and by the end have found common ground.

People on 'ludes should not drive.

...Jeff Spicoli

Fast Times was the quintessential teen flick of my time. There were others like the Breakfast Club but none had the heart of Ridgemont High.

The movie could have been called Fast Times at any High School in the United States it hit the mark so well.

We all were either one of these people, knew one of these people or were going to be one of these people by the time high school was done.

I hung out with Spicoli, Brad was my best friend, Rat and I worked together, Linda was the cheerleader dating older guys, Mike was the guy that no one had time for unless they needed something from him, and Stacy was the girl that should have been given a plaque at graduation for putting up with the stigmata that was placed upon her all to narrow shoulders.

Let's face it though Spicoli is the one everyone remembers. There is a part of everyone of us who wants that care free lifestyle. We want our tasty waves, the cool buzz, and for everything to be fine.

Sean Penn should have never made another movie.

He could still be that kid, but he married Madonna, then decided to take on the world.

Judge Reinhold is brilliant as Brad. Which one of us hasn't been there. He has an innate grace about him. The scene where he is eating the food from his delivery and throwing his uniform out the window is one of my top ten scenes from the movie. I thought the movie would have been truer if he went headhunting for Mike, but coming back for his sister like all brothers should evens the score.

Jennifer Jason Leigh has made millions of dollars by taking her clothes off in movies. That said she was fantastic in this movie. It was heartbreaking to see this 15 year old girl losing her virginity at a ball field and she brought it home to heart. The fact that she and Rat get together for a long term relationship by the end is perfect after the crap that is foisted on her in this movie.

Most of all this movie is about being human. It isn't as easy as walking upright is it? We make mistakes, we don't rise to the occasion every time the bell rings, and we have our faults, but we are upright and we do move on.

 9 out of 10 Scooby Snacks.

It wouldn't be me without putting this disclaimer in so here we go. This movie is not for kids under 16. Even on TV the subject matter is too adult and some language is not edited out.

Well folks that's it for this week, until next.

I'm the Big Dog, May Your Week Be Retro!

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