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Fast Times at Ridgemont High

It is not the usual stupid American collegiate comedy. Or rather, it bloody well is, but it is also a film with actors who were half-unknown at the time and who, hired today, would be worth as much as a nation's vastly growing GDP. Not to mention a soundtrack ranging from Led Zeppelin to Tom Petty. Just saying.
 It all stems from another unknown at the time, screenwriter Cameron Crowe, later Oscar winner for 'Almost Famous' and nominee for 'Jerry McGuire'. Crowe, in 1981, published a book 'Fast Times at Ridgemont High: A True Story', after pretending to be a student at Clairemont High School in San Diego and spending his senior year there. The book became the backbone of the almost eponymous film that was even released before the novel.
 At first, they propose David Lynch as director. And, no, this is no joke. Lynch who comes from 'The Elephant Man' and 'Eraserhead' is certainly not the director you would expect for a teen comedy. And, in fact, while appreciating the story, Lynch politely declined the invitation, thus opening the door to a young director, then 27 years old and making her debut: Amy Heckerling. Yes, she, the one who was to become famous for a series of light, highly successful comedies.
To stand in front of the camera a series of very young actors were hired, as I have already mentioned, and in search of glory. Phoebe Cates, certainly the best known of the bunch, had recently come into the limelight for the horrendous but prurient 'Paradise' and the song of the same name sung by herself. Then we find Jennifer Jason Leigh, Sean Penn, Forest Whitetaker, Eric Stoltz, Scott Thomson, 1980s comedy icon Judge Reinhold and a certain Nicolas Coppola who is none other than Nicolas Cage. Not forgetting character actors such as Vincent Schiavelli, Ray Walston and a cameo by Lana Clarkson.

 "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" is about the usual American students in their last year of college. A difficult year, shall we say, spent among sex, drugs and rock'n'roll. Nothing surprising, and in 1982, the year of its release, it had already been eviscerated several times and successfully by Hollywood. But thanks to the cast and a winning narrative formula, it can be watched with great and amused pleasure. A series of plots and subplots travelling in parallel show us precisely the life and problems of these teenagers, with particular interest in Jeff Spicoli, played by Sean Penn, who dreams of surfing and walks around in chequered Vans throughout the film.
 There is no lack of hot moments, of course, with Jennifer Jason Leigh and Phoebe Coates engaged in a famous scene in the swimming pool, between the 'scult' and the absolute symbol of this film.

 A light and silly comedy, it earned a place in the National Film Registry in 2005.