Okay. I admit it. I’m guilty. I’m probably one of the few people on the planet Earth who has never seen Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Not because I’m an art film snob or anything (which I’m not…usually). I just never got around to it. I heard all the hype, heard a lot of the famous lines. But I’ve never actually seen the movie. Until now.
The Special Edition of Fast Times is now available and it’s worth picking up. For all the rest of the planet that has seen it, the movie takes plac… over one school year and revolves around characters that I’m sure you all know. There’s Spicoli, Brad, Stacey, Rat, Mike Damone, Linda, and Mr. Hand. And the, then, unknown cast is now extremely famous, Sean Penn, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Phoebe Cates, and (even in smaller roles) Anthony Edwards, Eric Stoltz, and Nicholas Cage.< .p>
The writer, Cameron Crowe, famously went undercover to uncover the “reality” of adolescent life. The result is an uncompromising expose of teenage sex, drugs, abortion, and masturbation. The movie is also funny. It’s not sidesplitting. But the humor is in the truth of the dialogue and some famous set pieces (Spicoli ordering pizza in class or Judge Reinhold masturbating in the bathroom).
After all the hype, and finally watching the movie, I’m safe in saying that it still holds up. With Amy Heckerling’s breezy direction and Crowe’s veracious script, Fast Times and Ridgemont High is an unpretentious addition to the teenage sex comedy. There are some subtle messages about growing up too rapidly in these “fast times”, but any poignancy is achieved through the work of the stellar cast.
I alternated between Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround and DTS audio tracks, and I could find no discernable difference between the two. The surround is mostly used for environment. I appreciated that there were no cheesy surround effects to try and “modernize” the audio track. This is a center heavy mix. The music and the dialogue come in clear and strong. Sounds good for a movie over 20 years old.
The 1:85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is nice, despite the old source material. There are moments of film grain, softness and specks, but those moments are rare. The colors are vibrant but natural. The “documentary” type feel comes across well. All in all, a competent transfer for a film that doesn’t rely upon visual style.
First off, there’s a commentary by the director and writer, Amy Heckerling and Cameron Crowe respectively. It’s an entertaining revisiting by two funny people. Like the film itself, the commentary doesn’t change the world but is a fun way to spend 90 minutes.
There’s a 40 minute documentary Reliving our Fast Times at Ridgemont High. This is solid interview based feature with the some of the cast, producer, director, and the casting agent (who was the real unsung hero of this movie).
There’s also a music track feature (the DVD cues up to the scene in the movie) and an easy to find Easter Egg (probably the easiest I’ve ever seen).
An iconic film to own in your DVD library. It’s fun to put on at a party. Even better, invite a girl over to watch it. Or even better….put on the first side of Led Zepplin IV.
Special Features List
- Commentary by director Amy Heckerling and writer Cameron Crowe
- “Reliving our Fast Times at Ridgemont High” documentary
- Music highlights
- A video map