First of all Rat, you never let on how much you like a girl. "Oh, Debbie. Hi."
Two, you always call the shots. "Kiss me. You won't regret it."
Now three, act like wherever you are, that's the place to be. "Isn't this great?"
Four, when ordering food, you find out what she wants, then order for the both of you. It's a classy move. "Now, the lady will have the linguini and white clam sauce, and a Coke with no ice."
And five, now this is the most important, Rat. When it comes down to making out, whenever possible, put on side one of Led Zeppelin IV.Fast Times At Ridgemont High is a 1982 Coming of Age / Slice of Life film written by Cameron Crowe, based on his novel, and directed by Amy Heckerling. It follows the lives of a handful of high school students over the course of a school year, focusing mostly on Stacy Hamilton (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and her eventual boyfriend, Mark "Rat" Ratner (Brian Backer). The other main characters are Stacy's brother, Brad (Judge Reinhold); her best friend, Linda Barrett (Phoebe Cates); Rat's best friend, Mike Damone (Robert Romanus); Jeff Spicoli, a perpetual stoner in Stacy's history class (Sean Penn); and Mr. Arnold Hand, the history teacher who is frequently put upon by Spicoli's antics (Ray Walston).When the film was first released, it received mostly negative reviews from critics who wrote it off as just another teen sex comedy. These days, it's often considered one of the best high school films ever made.
— Mike Damone, on his "five-point" plan
This film demonstrates the following tropes:
- Adaptation Distillation: The film narrows its focus from the novel, dropping some peripheral characters completely, combining some (Damone and the ticket scalper character, for example) and simplifying some plot threads (Brad's journey down the fast-food prestige chain starts when he gets buffaloed into quitting his much-desired position at Carl's Jr., for instance, which was dropped from the film).
- Adults Are Useless: With the notable exception of Mr. Hand, the adults are either jerks or inconsequential.
- Aluminum Christmas Trees: The scene where students are sniffing the tests? Probably lost on most people these days, but that actually used to happen. In the days before photocopy machines were commonplace (late '80s or so), most schools still used a Mimeograph machine to copy hand-outs and tests. Sniffing fresh mimeo ink produces a mild high.
- Artistic License – Music: Despite being told to play side one of "Led Zeppelin IV" on his date, Mark ends up playing "Kashmir" from "Physical Graffiti" instead. This is partly Genius Bonus (few outside of the truly devoted would know exact Zeppelin track listings) and partly Throw It In!. The producers were unable to secure clearances for "IV" and it could be played off as Mark picking the wrong album.
- Bad Job, Worse Uniform: Brad's brief tenure at "Captain Hook's Fish and Chips."
- Book Ends: The film opens up with scenes of the goings-on at Ridgemont Mall; and after the "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue, the end credits start with the mall businesses closing down at the end of the day.
- Brick Joke: Near the opening, Damone remarks to some kid customers that as a result of some bad scalping, he was "this" close to working at 7-11. In the film's "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue, it is mentioned that he was busted for scalping Ozzy Osbourne tickets and is now working at 7-11.
- Says Mr. Hand, "What are you people? On DOPE?!?" In the end, he is convinced everybody is on dope!
- Burger Fool: Brad works at two of these, with varying levels of horribleness. He is fired from the first due to an Unsatisfiable Customer and quits the second. There is another fast food joint which manages to be even worse; mostly mentioned only in dialogue, it is shown at the beginning of the film when one of its employees, Arnold, tries to operate a milkshake machine, only to have the mixture splash back in his face.
- The Cameo: Nancy Wilson, Cameron Crowe's girlfriend at the time, plays the woman in the car who laughs at Brad's ridiculous uniform (from his fast food job).
- Casanova Wannabe: Damone sees himself as a real ladies' man, but we only actually see him with Stacy.
- Caught with Your Pants Down: Brad masturbates while daydreaming about Linda getting out of the pool and taking her top off. Unfortunately, the real Linda opens the door on him. He complains: "Doesn't anyone fucking knock anymore?"
- The Cheerleader: Averted. The cheerleaders at Ridgemont are mocked openly at pep rallies due to the school's poor performance at athletic events, and perhaps the fact that they are cloyingly shrill, verging on the hysterical.
- Composite Character: Damone's business as a ticket scalper was handled by a separate character in the novel.
- A Date with Rosie Palms: Brad is in the middle of this when the object of his fantasy walks in on him.Brad: Doesn't anybody fucking knock?!
- Defacement Insult: Charles Jefferson, Ridgemont High's star football player, finds his car destroyed and defaced with insults allegedly perpetrated by people from a rival school. But it was actually his brother and Spicoli, who had taken it for a joyride and wrecked it. They painted the slurs to cover up their culpability.
- Dress CodeStoners: No shirt, no shoes, no dice! Ohhhh.Brad Hamilton: Right. Learn it. Know it. Live it.
- Dressed to Plunder: When Brad ends up working at a pirate-themed restaurant, he realizes how low his life has sunk when he catches a look at himself in his own rear view mirror making a delivery dressed as a pirate.
- Drives Like Crazy: Spicoli
- Female Gaze: Phoebe Cates' first line: "Did you see his cute little butt?".
- Fictional Counterpart: The fast food seafood restaurant where Brad works seems to be based on Long John Silver's.
- Film of the Book: The film was actually based on a novel written by Crowe two years earlier, which was in turn based on a year he spent undercover as a student at Clairemont High in San Diego, his way of making it up to himself for missing so much of his real high school years to do rock interviews.
- Foreshadowing: Mr. Hand's first class session begins with an explanation of the rules - most importantly, no eating. He tells the class that they would not want him to come to their homes on their time to teach them. Spicoli has pizza delivered to the classroom at one point, and at the end of the year, Mr. Hand visits Spicoli at his home to teach him as a consequence of the time he had wasted in class.
- He Who Must Not Be Seen: Linda's boyfriend is mentioned several times, but never seen.
- High-School Dance: The film features one of these at the end, with considerably few of the cornier aspects.
- Laser-Guided Karma: Damone. He gets Stacy pregnant, and when she tells him, he blames her, but eventually agrees to pay for half of her abortion procedure and give her a ride to the clinic. Not only does he not do this, he refuses her calls and never speaks to her again. Linda avenges his actions, however, by spray painting his car and locker with the words "little prick" and Rat later confronts him about it and even challenges him to fisticuffs. In the end, he apologizes...to Rat, for stealing his girl.
- Lets Wait Awhile: What Rat and Stacy decide to do.
- Leitmotif: Somebody's Baby by Jackson Browne whenever Stacy and sex is involved. In fact, the song has at this point become synonymous with reckless teen sex, to the point that Not Another Teen Movie used a cover of it in one of their many gags.
- Make-Out Point: It's even called "the point".
- "Mister Sandman" Sequence: Time has turned the opening scenes of kids in the mall to the tune of "We Got The Beat" into one of these.
- Mood Whiplash: The scenes dealing with Stacy tend to invoke this trope.
- Never Trust a Trailer: The trailer makes Forest Whitaker's character out to be much bigger than it is.
- No Antagonist: While some deeds of the characters are morally questionable at best, there is little real conflict between them (and whatever conflict there still was ended with reconciliation between parties).
- Oktoberfest: Mark Ratner takes Stacy on a date to a German restaurant. The waitress who serves them is a rubenesque woman wearing lederhosen.
- Pool Scene: leading to Erotic Dream, A Date with Rosie Palms, and Caught with Your Pants Down.
- The Precious, Precious Car: Jefferson gets a slick sports car as a gift for returning to play football for Ridgemont. Spicoli takes it for a spin with Jefferson's little brother and trashes it, activating Jefferson's Berserk Button. Luckily Spicoli was able to frame their rival high school. Later, we see Jefferson leading the football team to a major lopsided victory and reversing the school's poor athletic performance in the process.
- Poster-Gallery Bedroom: Spicoli's bedroom walls are covered with posters of nude women.
- Running Gag: Spicoli trying Mr. Hand's patience.
- Sex as Rite-of-Passage: Stacy's story, leading to an aversion of Good Girls Avoid Abortion.
- Sensei for Scoundrels: Damone gives Rat plenty of sleazy advice on how to appear cool and pick up the girl he likes, then uses Rat's awkwardness to make himself look better in her eyes. Rat eventually calls him out on it and gets the girl.
- Ship Tease: The famous bikini scene is this for Brad and Linda.
- Speed Sex: When Damone and Stacy get it on, Damone is only able to last for a few seconds before climaxing (and to make things even more cruel for Stacy, she ends up getting pregnant from that encounter).
- Stern Teacher: Mr. Hand is pretty unforgiving to his students, and especially Spicoli, who arguably deserves it. In the end he gives him a chance at redemption. Some of his comments lean towards Sadist Teacher territory but he seems to be a genuinely decent guy, just very strict. The novel says that "even some of the hardcore truants" respected his approach.
- Stoners Are Funny: Spicoli and his buddies. Upon seeing Spicoli entering the American History class, one student comments "That guy's been stoned since the third grade."
- Surfer Dude: Spicoli, again.
- Tech Marches On:
- The burglar disables the gas station's security camera by spray-painting the lens as he walks in. In 1982, chances are there wasn't another camera in the store. Now, there'd almost certainly be several.
- Linda mentions that her neighborhood doesn't even have cable TV yet.
- Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Played for laughs near the end of the movie when it's revealed that Mr. Vargas (the nerdy science teacher) is married to a gorgeous blonde played by Lana Clarkson. His students are struck speechless by how hot Mrs. Vargas is.
- Unlucky Everydude: Rat seems like this for most of the film, an awkward, shy dude with no idea how to get a girl's attention, and going to the worst person for advice. He wises up a bit.
- Waxing Lyrical: Mike is such a fan of Cheap Trick, he uses their lyrics to make passes at girls.
- What Have I Become?: When Brad looks in his rear view mirror and sees himself dressed as a pirate while delivering an order of seafood, it causes him to realize just how low he's sunk.
- "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: The epilogue reveals what happened to the many of the characters after the end of the movie.
- Brad Hamilton - Made manager of MI-T-MART June 12.
- Mike Damone - Busted for scalping Ozzy Osbourne tickets. Now works at 7-11.
- Mr. Vargas - Switched back to coffee.
- Linda Barrett - Attending college at Riverside. Now living with her Abnormal Psych Professor.
- Rat & Stacy - Having a passionate love affair. But still haven't gone all the way.
- Mr. Hand - Convinced everyone is on dope.
- Jeff Spicoli - Saved Brooke Shields from drowning. Blows reward money hiring Van Halen to play his Birthday Party.