It’s cool if GenXers and others with nostalgia pangs for the ’80s want to buy Criterion’s just-released Bluray of Fast Times at Ridgemont High. It’s okay to do this. The only thing I would ask is “why?”
Amy Heckerling and Cameron Crowe‘s 1982 film is an enjoyable…well, half-enjoyable sitcom-type thing…an episodic in which stuff happens but that’s all. It captured a certain moment in both film culture and culture all over, back when indoor malls were popping up everywhere and the remnants of ’70s youth-culture had nothing more to prove and starting to feel over or co-opted. Reagan-era attitudes and dollar-driven lifestyles were gaining ground among 30somethings, who 10 or 15 years earlier were stoner types or something in that realm.
I’m not sure that “yuppies” was even a term back then, although it may have been invented by journalist Dan Rottenberg in a 5.1.80 Chicago magazine piece. By ’81 or thereabouts you could definitely sense that things were tipping in this direction.
If you apply the Howard Hawks definition of a first-rate film (“three great scenes and no bad ones”), what scenes do you pick aside from (a) Sean Penn‘s (i.e., “Jeff Spicoli’s) “I’m so wasted” during a phone call, and (b) Phoebe Cates unhooking her red bikini bra in slow-mo? If I had a favorite character, it was Judge Reinhold‘s “Brad” but now that you mention it I honestly can’t remember any crescendo moment that he had. I recall the air of sexual tension and frustration, but not much else.
I’m not sure Fast Times really amounted to much back then, and certainly not now. It’s been nearly 40 years since it opened, and I haven’t….okay, I take that back. I watched a DVD version 15 or 20 years ago.