Fast Times at Ridgemont High (R)

Comedy 92 August 13, 2002
The mother of the early '80s teen-movie genre, this one retains a sweetness you may have missed the first time around (and a girl power John Hughes could never cop convincingly). And just look at those twinkling little stars! Yes, there was a time when chunky/sexy Jennifer Jason Leigh smiled easily; when Sean Penn was nobody in particular; and Cameron Crowe was just another writer. (See also: a nearly cute Forest Whitaker; a nearly convincing Eric Stoltz; and Anthony Edwards with piles of stringy hair.) Director Amy Heckerling (Clueless) has a laser sight for untapped talent and the nuts to depict teen sex/drugs/rock 'n' roll without pressing the panic button. Like Valley Girl (another horny-teen flick made by a woman), Fast Times isn't shooting for serious cultural relevance but achieves it anyway, particularly in its girl's-eye-view of sex--including the depressing abortion scene that did more to educate my friends and me than any dumb after-school special. (Kate Sullivan)
Amy Heckerling Sean Penn, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Judge Reinhold, Phoebe Cates, Ray Walston, Eric Stoltz, Robert Romanus, Brian Backer, Pamela Springsteen, Nicolas Cage Cameron Crowe Irving Azoff, Art Linson Universal Pictures


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