Fast Times At Ridgemont High (1982)

Fast Times At Ridgemont High

Fast Times At Ridgemont High

Fast Times At Ridgemont High (1982)

Rated M

Starring Sean Penn, Phoebe Cates, Judge Reinhold

Have teen comedies really changed so little in 26 years? Change the fashions and the soundtrack and this 80s classic would not rise an eyebrow amongst the multitude of high school sex comedies released today. But Fast Times came out in 1982. You gotta give it credit.

Fast Times At Ridgmont Hightakes us through a year in the life of a several American high school students. There’s Brad, searching for respect in the McJob world. There’s Stacy, eager to find love through sex. There’s Spicoli, who has no more ambition than to surf and have a good time. And many more. My favourite character is Mr Hand. Is it wrong to be cheering for the hard as nails teacher in a teen comedy? He came across to me as the kind of teacher I would respect and listen to… While the plots overlap in some places, these are several stories that all happen to occur at the same school. There’s a fair bit of nudity, language and drug references. I can understand the second two, but really, I could tell that Pheobe Cates was hot WITH the bikini top on. I didn’t need to see anything more.

Brad starts of the school year with the world at his feet. He’s a senior in high school, got a loving girl friend, a cool car and a decent job at a fast food restaurant. But his girl leaves him. He gets fired unjustly from his job because of a self righteous customer. And suddenly he’s not himself. Brad defined himself by his status. When you take the status away from him, he’s lost. For Brad, the point of life was to make enough money and if you had enough money, every thing else would work itself out. But there’s an emptiness to that mentality. You’ll never have enough money, you’ll never get the respect you yearn for.

Stacy is convinced that the way to a man’s heart is through his pants. She’ll sleep with a guy, then wonder why he never calls her back. She has confused sex with love. She throws her self at men, hoping to find a connection, a spark. But the guys who take her up on her advances are the kind of guys who are doing it only for the sex. Once they’ve got what they came for, they’re gone.

These characters are all searching for something. They’re looking for that missing piece of the jigsaw puzzle that will make their lives complete. Whether it be through money, sex, friendships, etc, they’re all looking for completeness. But they don’t know how to get it. They follow the paths they’ve been told will get them what they want. But they realise that the paths don’t lead anywhere worthwhile.

Is it wrong to say that we should all be a bit more like Spicoli? We should emulate the burnt out, dope smoking surfer? Here’s a man who is content with what he has. He’s not looking for fulfillment because he has all that he wants. Christians are not in need of anything. We know that God will look after us, not only in the here and now, but in the life to come. We find our fulfilment in being a child of God, by being in Christ. We don’t need to search for meaning through work or sex. We have our meaning in Jesus.

Not much has changed since 1982. People are still looking for an identity, some thing that will make them whole. What people need is to know the person and work of Jesus.

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About Joel A Moroney

Associate Minister at St Luke's Anglican Church, Liverpool (in the Sydney Diocese). A very strange man, but he usually has Pez, so that makes it okay.
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