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Fast Times at Ridgemont High - 80's Captured in Cinema - Heads, Honeys and Heartthrobs

Updated on May 28, 2014

In 1982, rock and roll was still king, big hair was in and coming of age got way funny.

Each generation has a movie that typifies its specific social makeup, the in groups, the out groups and all the in between groups every poor high school student becomes all too familiar with.

Fast Times at Ridgemont High encapsulated the slang, style, situations and sounds of the early 80's. The first time I saw it, I laughed so hard I had tears in my eyes and my sides hurt. It became the poster movie of my generation, one I have seen again and again.

From the all too real social situations faced by most teens to the satirical stereotypes poked fun at, this film presented it all in an in your face, funny kind of way.

So, come on dude. Lets scope out a tasty flick.

Our story is set in a typical American town and revolves around the lives of a few teenagers. Too many movies are about the "A" list kids, the most perfect, the most popular, the most blah blah blah. Uh huh. Like folks are really that perfect.

I think a huge part of what made Fast Times at Ridgemont High an automatic success was the realness of the cast. The main characters all were the most uniquely flawed, lovable kids. Suffering from such dramatic, yet normal teen maladies as chronic insecurity, fashion faux pas, acne, worry over dating, grades, money, and things parents never need to know about made these guys instantly related to by an entire generation.

Lets meet a few.

The gorgeous girl - Linda was played by Pheobe Cates. Linda is beautiful and she knows it but she's still a hopeless romantic, loyal friend and determined to break out of the kid mold. Beautiful and brainy, watch her try to take on the world of adult dating.

The pretty virgin - Stacy is Linda's best friend played by Jennifer Jason Leigh. She's a bit younger, but not much. Both girls work together. Stacy is consumed with the idea of finding a boyfriend. Check out how she learns not to judge a book by its cover, how to stand up for herself and a little about who she wants to be.

The older brother/responsible senior - Brad is played hysterically by Judge Reinghold. He's together, employed, passing and just a bit too full of himself. Follow this supposedly together guy as he risks it all for what he discovers he doesn't even want. Such is the joy of youth. Audiences fell in love with this character for his goofiness and his good guy, teddy bear qualities that just can't help but show, eventually.

The all around good boy geek - Marc is such a good guy. He's always putting others first. He's madly in love with Stacy but in 1982 good guys didn't rate high on the sexy radar for many a teenage girl. Watch Marc figure out what's really important and teach Stacy a few things too.

The scumbag - Mike Damone. To this day, I want to jump in the movie and slap this guy silly. He comes across as trying too hard to be cool but that can be easily forgiven. Watch and see what he does that just can't. Scope on how Stacy and Linda decide to teach him a lesson. It's fantastic!

The stoner - Jeff Spicoli was masterfully played by Sean Penn. This role made him as a Hollywood name. Spicoli was the most lovable embodiment of an 80's stoned surfer. From the vans to the hair, this guy had the stereotype down. He stole the show and became a legendary figure among party animals everywhere.

The teacher - Mr. Hand was played by Ray Walston of My Favorite Martian fame. What teenage movie is complete without the teacher everyone is terrified of? Watch as Spicoli's nemesis and he come to an understanding, so to speak. It's hysterical.

There are more great characters played by other guys and gals you know and love, such as a very young Forest Whitaker. The cast had a magical chemistry that just clicked on camera to the joy of audiences across America.

Featuring some great rock and roll.

Fast Times at Ridgemont High came to life with one rocking soundtrack. Complete with music from Led Zeppelin, Joe Walsh, Jackson Brown, Billy Squire, Stevie Nicks, The Cars, Sammy Hagar and many others, the entire thing is one killer song after the next.

It was a great time for music. Classic rock was still kicking, punk was coming on and hair metal was about to explode. To this day, I still love the tunes from back when rock and roll ruled.

It doesn't get any funnier in the 80's.

I have probably seen this movie over 20 times. Everyone went gaga for it back in the day. The music was played at all the happening parties and all of us girls wished we looked like Linda.

As an adult, I still love it. For coming of age that doesn't clean it up for mom, this is as funny as it gets. I wouldn't recommend it for the kids due to adult situations but for adult viewing its a hoot and a half.

Trailers, tidbits and funny like you can't imagine.

This first video shows a brief, clean shot of the iconic swim suit scene with Phoebe Cates that had every teenage boy in America drooling over his popcorn. After that is some of Spicoli's finer moments and lastly, check out him and Brad.

Prepare to get your laugh on.

Background image credit; Poetvix

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The smoking sounds abound.

For a really good movie soundtrack where the music is as good as the flick, check it out below. Accompanying the stellar sounds are two more classic 80's, super funny, high school coming of age movies with actors you know and love. Check it out.

What was your favorite coming of age movie? Can you think of any that really nailed the era which they represented?

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    • Maugustine profile image

      Michael Augustine 

      4 years ago from Arizona

      Thousands of years from now Fast Times will be known as the most important reference point when it comes to the study of ancient 1980's culture.

    • Rhonda Lytle profile imageAUTHOR

      Rhonda Lytle 

      4 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      @WriterJanis2: For real. I wonder if when it was made anyone had any idea of what a hit it would be? So many big names really started here, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Forest Whitaker, Sean Penn and more. I liked Penn in "I am Sam" too. The range he shows when comparing the two characters is amazing. God bless!

    • Rhonda Lytle profile imageAUTHOR

      Rhonda Lytle 

      4 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      @bdkz: Mine too. No matter how many times I see it, it still makes me laugh.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image


      4 years ago

      What a hit this movie was.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      One of my favorites!


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