Fast Times At Ridgemont High: Collector's Edition
Universal
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted May 4, 2000
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Graphical Version
Universal/95 mins./Comedy-Drama

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (Anamorphic Widescreen)

Audio: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)

Features: Interactive Video Menus; Scene Access; Audio Commentary with Director Amy Heckerling and writer Cameron Crowe; "Reliving Our Fast Times At Ridgemont HIgh" Documentary; "The Hangouts Of Ridgemont High" Maze; Musical Highlights with Direct Song Access; Cast & Crew Bios; Production Notes; Theatrical Trailer; Web Links; English Captions & French Subtitles.

The Movie: In 1979, "Rolling Stone" journalist Cameron Crowe went back to high school undercover to document the state of America's teenagers. What he came up with is chronicled in his book--and its subsequent movie version: 1982's "Fast Times At Ridgemont High." Working alongside sophomore director Amy Heckerling (who would go on to helm such comedy classics as 1984's "Johnny Dangerously," 1989's "Look Who's Talking" and 1995's "Clueless"), Crowe has fashioned a bittersweet and all-too realistic portrayal of the kids, the times and the fun (which I missed because I was only 10 at the time...DRAT!!).

Here's the basic premise: The lives of several Californian high school kids are presented in an interwining fashion. Attractive, virginal freshman Stacy (a cute Jennifer Jason Leigh) wants to have sex. Her best friend, senior Linda (a sexy Phoebe Cates--actually Mrs. Kevin Kline) advises and counsels her younger protege on the ways of love. Stacy's older brother is Brad (Judge Reinhold)--senior extraordinare. He's got a great job at All-American Burger (which he later gets fired from), a sexy girlfriend (who dumps him) and a great car with only 6 more payments on it. Then, there's Mark "The Rat" Ratner (Brian Backer), a nebbish sophomore who's in love with Stacy. His pal is the cocksure lothario/concert scalper Mike Damone (a suave Robert Romanus)--who ends up bedding Stacy and getting her pregnant. Also, there's Jefferson (Forest Whitaker)--the massive football player who loves his Camaro. Finally, there's surfer and stoner dude Jeff Spicoli (the totally awesome Sean Penn), who likes tasty waves and a cool buzz. He fights with his Gestapo-like history professor, Mr. Hand (Ray Walston, in a delightfully nasty role). In the end, set during finals week, things are resolved for our Ridgemont High teens. Stacy and Rat continue to date (without sleeping with one another, by the way!); Brad becomes the manager of a convenience store after foiling an attemped robber; Mike Damone ends up working at 7-11 after being busted for ticket scalping; Linda ends up living with her college psychology professor; Jefferson wins the big football game for Ridgemont; and Spicoli saves Brooke Shields from drowning and blows his reward money hiring Van Halen to perform at his birthday party. Oh yeah, Mr. Hand is STILL convinced that everyone's on drugs!

What a totally awesome movie, dude! The cast is fantastic; there was a lot of young talent in this movie. Besides the leads, early roles included a young Nicolas Cage (billed here as Nicolas Coppola...yes, part of THAT Coppola family); Eric Stoltz ("Mask") and Anthony Edwards ("ER") play Spicoli's stoner buddies; and yes, that's an uncredited Ralph Macchio in the cafeteria/oral-sex-on-a-carrot-scene with Leigh and Cates. You know, the best thing about this movie is the totally awesome rock soundtrack that accompanies the movie. With musicians like Don Henly, Stevie Nicks, Sammy Hagar, Donna Summer, The Cars, Oingo Boingo, Jimmy Buffet, Jackson Browne, and several other popular artists.

Okay, the best scene in the movie is when Judge Reinhold has his mastubatory fantasy where Phoebe Cates gets out of the pool and comes toward him with her assets popping out of her bikini top. This all happens to the sound of The Cars' hypnotic "Moving In Stereo." Folks, this scene is in my opinion THE one true reason that freeze-framing on DVDs was created! (Gee, she would make an excellent computer screen saver...)

The Picture: Universal has once again done a fantastic job transferring the print onto DVD. A few nicks & scratches from the print, but nothing really horrible.

The Sound: Interestingly, Universal did not remix the soundtrack into DD 5.1. But that's okay, because the DVD sounds fabulous. The 30+ songs on the film all sound terrific (it's nice to see that Universal was able to license all of the original songs, since they couldn't do it for the cruddy VHS version).

The Extras: This is where the disc excels. We get a 60-minute, in-depth documentary with most of the cast (including Sean Penn, but excluding Jennifer Jason Leigh and Phoebe Cates--both who chose not to appear), director Amy Heckerling, writer Cameron Crowe, some Universal suits, and other folks connected to the movie. The other stuff is precious junk that was rather entertaining. Nice commentary by the filmmakers, too. The "Hangouts" feature is similar to the "L.A. Confidential" DVD that Warner Bros. put out, highlighting specific locations where the movie was shot. Nifty, baby!

Conclusion: All in all, a great DVD for a great movie. My one glaring complaint is that the deleted scenes and extra footage that regularly show up on TV airings has been omitted from the DVD entirely. What gives? Some of those scenes added more humor and even poignancy to the finished product. I wish that those scenes were in the DVD somewhere. But, as it is, "Fast Times" is still a cool DVD to add to the library.

Like Spicoli would say: "It's like, hey bud, let's party!! HAHAHAHA!!" Right you are, my man.



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