Screenplay Review: Fast Times at Ridgemont High

FastTimesAtRidgemontHigh.The screenplay for Fast Times at Ridgemont High is my first foray into the genre. What a great experience it was. Thanks to Michael of A Few Minutes With Michael for sponsoring this callenge and tempting me into reading screenplays.

My thoughts after reading the screenplay:

Until now I’ve never seen this movie. I think that worked in my favor when I read the screenplay. I had no preconceived ideas about scenery or the actors or any of the little nuances seen only in a movie. In reading the screenplay without having seen the movie, I was free to create my own scenery and my own actors.

It wasn’t hard to create my own actors. This story is built around characters that are stereotypes of various high school kids. Except for the references to the shopping mall and music that was popular in the 1980’s, the screenplay could have been set in any time period. They could have happened anytime in the past seventy-five years; maybe longer than that, but I have no personal knowledge beyond seventy-five years. Here are the stereotypes I saw:

  • The sexually experienced girl who gives advice to other girls
  • The younger girl who sees sex as a way to be popular with boys
  • The kid who is the wheeler-dealer
  • The kid who gets his big identity by working at a job
  • The kid who specializes in being “on” something (alcohol, drugs, marijuana, etc.)
  • The jocks and the cheerleaders
  • The teachers who each have their own quirky ways with students

We had these stereotypes in high school when I was a student 50 years ago. My mom talked about them in her high school 75 years ago. I know there are some additional stereotypes added from more recent generations. I’m sure you can add your own.

Fast Times at Ridgemont High follows a few featured students through the school year. The tone is light but the story covers some heavy subjects: excessive drug use, abortion, irresponsible sex, and a few more.

My thoughts after seeing the movie:

First, let me say this movie was hilarious and fun but it had a message.

Second, Sean Penn was the absolute star of this movie. I didn’t catch that it was Sean Penn until someone pointed it out and then I had to go back and look at him again. Sean Penn’s portrayal of Spicoli is the only one who exceeded my expectations. While reading the screenplay I saw the characters differently and actually I liked the characters in my head better. I wonder if that is because I read the screenplay first?

I didn’t see the movie when it came out and I honestly don’t remember my kids talking about the movie. The two oldest would have been teenagers in 1982. IF they saw it then, they probably didn’t want me to know about it. At the time I wouldn’t have approved of it for their age. But for older teens I think the exaggerated stereotypes would be fun and easy for them to relate to. I wouldn’t want younger teens to believe the moral character shown in the movie was how all teens do or should behave.

Overall, I felt my first screenplay experience was very good. If you want to dip your reading toe into screenplays, visit Michael. He provides the download of the screenplay. You have to find the movie. Just in case you were like me and didn’t see the movie, here’s the trailer for Fast Times At Ridgemont High. Enjoy.

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12 Responses to Screenplay Review: Fast Times at Ridgemont High

  1. Kathy says:

    It’s been a long time since I saw the movie, but I remember thinking it was hilarious!

  2. I haven’t seen it for years either. But reading the screenplay first seems like an interesting way to approach it.

  3. Michael says:

    Hi Margot, it would have been fun if I had not seen the movie before reading the screenplay. Once you see Sean Penn as Spicoli, you can’t help but have him in your mind’s eye when you read it.
    As for October’s screenplay, looks like “Silence of the Lambs” is leading right now.

  4. Staci says:

    I was 12 when this movie come out so I never saw it in the theaters but caught it cable later in life. Glad you’re having such a great time reading these screenplays!!

  5. stacybuckeye says:

    I had fun with this challenge too. Sean Penn was my favorite part of the movie.

  6. Beth F says:

    I definitely didn’t see this in the theater, but I have seen it on cable. It’s really not my kind of movie, but I like Sean Penn.

  7. Cerrin says:

    I think all of us kids saw it on cable…It was playing over and over again in compitition with Grease 2 lol if that tells you about how old I was when I first saw it. It was a fun movie to watch for me at that time because I didnt know people were like that. (I was kinda young)

  8. Bumbles says:

    I am so tickled that you enjoyed it! I never would have thought it could be related across generations of kids but now that you mention it the basic story is the same isn’t it? I say, any challenge that exposes people to Fast Times has my vote!

    We put a spotlight on you today in our Thursday 13:

  9. Pingback: Words Behind The Pictures Challenge | A Few Minutes With Michael

  10. Jenners says:

    What a fun thing to do!! I’ve never read a screenplay either … I wonder how it would be. I might have to try this. I think it would be fun to read it before seeing the movie and then seeing how your own version compared and how “your” movie differed from the “real” one.

    And what a great one to pick! Sean Penn did steal the movie, didn’t he? It would be interesting to read the lines in the screenplay and then see how he delivered them and made them his own. I’m sure this gives you a look into acting and moviemaking at the same time.

    Thanks for the fun post.

  11. Belle says:

    I didn’t get a chance to tackle the screenplay for this one, Margot. It sounds like you had such fun with it! I need to hop over to Michael’s blog and see what’s on for October.

  12. Christopher says:

    Yes, I saw it in way back then, it was pretty hilarious. The REALLY funny thing is to come to my mother’s blog and see her reviewing Fast Times, that made me chuckle! I guess it has become a literary classic over the last 25 years … 😉 Next thing you know she’ll be getting a tattoo and a belly button piercing or something …

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