Comedy #12: “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” (1982)
“That was my skull!”
“Fast Times at Ridgemont High” came out the summer I graduated high school. I went to see it with my good friend Lisa Calkin, who had shared most of the same classes as me since 6th grade. It was a week before the both of us left for different colleges. Coming out of the theater afterward, I was stunned. I said something like ‘you know, except for the sex and drugs, that WAS our high school experience.’
Okay, I may have wrecked my car a little differently.
30 years later and this is still one of the best depictions of high school life — albeit now a lovely time capsule of life in the early ’80s — and still one of the best comedies out there, period: forget prefixes like “teen-” or “sex-” or even “teen-sex-” comedy. (Although, thanks to changing technology, some jokes need to be deconstructed to the youngin’s … like the time we watched it when Bettina was living with us, and we had to explain to her teenage son why it was funny when all the students sniffed the mimeographed tests … trust me kid, that killed in 1982!)
This movie is tight, too — not an ounce of fat on it, and yet it is full of relatable characters moments, cringe-inducing memories of awkward adolescence that are dead on, and an awesome soundtrack (most of which, alas, is not on the official soundtrack album.) It’s the kind of movie that, a quarter century later, compels someone to create this trailer mashup: