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Home Theater Movie Renter's Guide - August, 2011

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"Fast Times at Ridgemont High" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Chris Heinonen

movie-august-2011-fast-times-at-ridgemont-high

Synopsis

Fast Times at Ridgemont High is a look at kids in a high school during their senior year.  Brad (Judge Reinhold) works at a burger joint and drives a nice car and fancies himself as perhaps being deserving of a better girlfriend than he currently has.  His sister Stacey (Jennifer Jason Leigh) works at a pizza joint in the mall and jumping back and forth in relationships, including one with Rat (Brian Backer), who works at the movie theater in the mall.  Jeff Spicoli (Sean Penn) is a stoner who rubs the history teacher Mr. Hand (Ray Walston) the wrong way, and can’t seem to take life seriously at all.

Specifications

  • Universal Studios
  • 1982, Color, Rated R, 1 Hr 30 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Codec: VC-1
  • 1080p
  • English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Starring: Sean Penn, Judge Reinhold, Jennifer Jason Leigh
  • Directed by Amy Heckerling
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: No
  • Sex: Yes
  • Language: Yes

Commentary

Directed by Amy Heckerling (Clueless) and written by Cameron Crowe, I came into Fast Times at Ridgemont High very excited, as I had never seen it growing up.  Unfortunately, I found the movie to not be touching, or really that funny, or relatable at all.  Characters are painted with a very broad brush, and I don’t think I saw a parent of any of the actors the whole time.

Most of the characters are just clichéd stereotypes that don’t bring much to the film, or are in a few scenes and then disappear again with growing or changing.  I came in to the film with high hopes, but those were quickly dashed.  The more I thought about the movie after watching it, the more disenchanted I became, especially with a plot line in the middle of the film that treats abortion as a ho-hum decision and not a bigger deal that it would be for a high school student.

Technical

The transfer on Fast Times was very inconsistent.  Some scenes looked very nice, with very low noise and a lot of good detail for a film that wasn’t a high budget production almost thirty years ago.  Other scenes would features crushed shadow detail and lots of film noise and be fairly soft in comparison.  Overall the transfer is fine, though not outstanding, but an upgrade from a DVD copy.

The soundtrack fares better with good use of the all channels when it comes to the soundtrack, and clear dialogue for the rest of the film.  The surrounds come into play sometimes during other film scenes, but most of the film is anchored in the front aside from the music.

Extras

Directors and Writers commentary, a retrospective feature, and the original trailer are included.