Watching Fast Times at Ridgemont High almost 40 years after its release means beckoning a timepiece of history that has been preserved in video form. In a way, although it might not be the best created film, it represents a cultural segment of American history that transcended for the individuals that lived through an epoch. The fashion, language, and other shenanigans of the 80s are conveyed through a cast of characters that, although unknown at the moment, would become extremely important for Hollywood per-se. One can ever ponder how Sean Penn transitioned from his role as Jeff Spicoli into what he has become today, or how big hitters like Mike Damone got lost against the backdrop of cinema as the years passed. In short words, Cameron Crowe crafted a stereotypical coming of age film, but one where his characters are so well scripted that audiences root for them and care for them (who wouldn’t like to have a brother like Brad?). Fast Times at Ridgemont High so symbolically represents an era, genre and place that its inclusion in the Library of Congress is no surprise, being “culturally, historically and aesthetically significant”. A downside of its duration is the fact that audiences can’t get to know the characters in a more distinct manner (in comparison to TV series), especially those secondary personas that had a substantial impact on the film (Forest Whitaker).
Time and time again Tarantino shows everyone that he is one of the best directors of all time. Not because the movie should be considered a masterpiece, but because every part of it is purely a Tarantino film, unique from all others. His characters, per usual, take the center role and become timeless (Señor Bob, Domergue, Joe Gage); and the whole cast are equally appealing as any of the characters from his previous films: unique and rememberable. Cinematography is top notch, and on this occasion the winter scenery is the perfect setting to emphasize the “Tarantino” style with intricate details such as the smoke from a tobacco, the heated breath from a horse’s nostrils, and the snowflakes falling and accumulating on characters’ hats. Finally, the slow uptake of the film and its decision to be shot almost entirely on a single room is reminiscent of theatre (and the director borrows from his other works the use of “chapters” or acts); but when the action gets going and the mystery starts unfolding, the audience is hooked on a very entertaining show.