Reel Matt

This blog started as my movie marathon — watching a movie a day for a whole year — and has continued as a place for me to write reviews about movies, TV, and various other items.



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Fast Times at Ridgemont High

Film #566


A group of Southern California high school students are enjoying their most important subjects - sex, drugs and rock n’ roll.

THE REVIEW: Clueless surprised me with how good it was when I watched it. Director Amy Heckerling had me laughing the whole way through, not only with one-liners, but with a funny story and characters that I cared about as well. Her directorial debut, Fast Times at Ridgemont High seems like a spiritual predecessor being about high school kids and all. Disappointment is probably the best word I can use to describe my reaction to the film however.

Almost nothing in this film works. The setting contains several non-coherent stories which barely connect to each other, Mr. Hand (Ray Walston) and Stacy Hamilton (Jennifer Jason Leigh) are the only characters who twinkle in a sea of faint stars, and the few laughs I did have were handily negated by the awkward silences where I stared at the screen wondering when the next scene would start.

Another comparison would be to Animal House but doing so really wouldn’t be fair to Animal House. Looking at Fast Times I’m almost shocked at how immature of a film it is. Both Fast Times and Animal House are immature in their sense of humor, but Fast Times is also immature from a conceptual state too. Immature humor is fine by me and often times I find it more amusing than I probably should (case in point: Why Him?). What happens with Fast Times though is there isn’t anything for me to latch on to. The characters are almost universally weak and have no, well, character to them and even more critically the story: a) goes nowhere; and b) nothing happens to make individual moments enjoyable even.

Roger Ebert said the film seemed that it, “hasn’t been though through, or maybe even thought about.” He talked more about the tone of the film and its humor but also as an overall critique. It perfectly summarizes my reaction coming out of it but I can’t help but feel the humor and tone would’ve actually worked had the characters been fleshed out at all and the story had some semblance of structure to it.

THE RATING: 2 out of 5