Teen movie Tuesday : Fast Times at Ridgemont high (1982)

Talia Johnson, Opinions editor

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This week we’re reviewing one of the most defining teen movies to date. Fast Times at Ridgemont High directed by Amy Heckerling, who thirteen years later would film Clueless (1995). This film was released on August 13th, 1982. It captures teens in the early 1980’s. Its storyline runs between four students at Ridgemont High.


Jeff Spicoli (portrayed by Sean Penn) is a burnout who skips school and surfs. Coincidentally, Heckerling’s Clueless has a character named Travis Birkenstock who is so alike in characteristics I almost mixed up the two characters. He is one of our main characters. The next storyline follows Stacy Hamilton (portrayed by Jennifer Jason Leigh). She is your typical timid teenage girl who gets experienced more and more throughout the movie along with her best friend, Linda Barrett  (portrayed by Phoebe Cates). The storyline also follows Brad Hamilton (portrayed by Judge Reinhold), Stacy Hamilton’s brother, as he gets through a break-up with his long-time girlfriend. Finally, Mark “Rat” Ratner (portrayed by Brian Backer) is a nerdy movie theater usher on the empty side of the Ridgemont mall who doesn’t get to interact with everyone on the other side. Mark Ratner has a crush on Stacy Hamilton and gets advice about her from his best friend, Mike Damone (portrayed by Robert Romanus). The film has a mix of drama and comedy with the course of events that occur.


This film as a whole is genre-defining because not only did the film depict early 80’s culture. The clothes , hair , and music is still shifting from the 1970’s clearly but the movie chisels its way to what most people would recall to be some of the best teen movie from the 1980’s. Sixteen Candles , The Goonies , The Breakfast Club , the greats. Without this milestone that doesn’t have the amount of recognition it deserves, we wouldn’t have our teen archetypes or John Hughes films.