Fast Times at Ridgemont High

What's it About

Tracking the ups and downs in the lives of a group of teenagers, this sharp ensemble piece centers mostly on Stacy Hamilton (Leigh), a likeable, attractive girl who starts dating confident cad Mike Damone (Romanus) when the true object of her affection, shy Mark (Backer), appears uninterested. Meanwhile, good-natured surfer dude Jeff Spicoli (Penn) tortures his teacher, Mr. Hand (Walston), with inane questions and a blissfully drugged-out aura.

Why We Love It

Less well-known than "Animal House" but equally worthy of cult status is Heckerling's "Fast Times," a teen sex comedy perceptively penned by future director Cameron Crowe. Beyond its warm and winning script, the movie is distinguished by the infectious performances of its juvenile actors, in particular Penn as the perpetually stoned Spicoli. Veteran Walston (from TV's "My Favorite Martian") is also priceless as Spicoli's frustrated teacher, Mr. Hand — and look fast for a young Nicolas Cage (billed as Nicolas Coppola).

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