‘Fast Times at Ridgemont High’ Undercuts Teenage Innocence

For viewers old enough to live through it, the opening credits of Fast Times at Ridgemont High represent a blissful trip down memory lane. For viewers too young to have experienced this drive of nostalgia, life as a teenager in the 1980s is even intoxicating from the outside. The blaring sound of The Go-Go‘s hit song, “We Got the Beat,” a lively shopping mall filled with teen employment, tomfoolery, and romance, record stores, a movie theater, arcades, and the distinguishable neon-colored fashion all crystalize the image of the decade among the public consciousness 40 years later. To top it all off, there’s not a cell phone in sight! The ’80s really were that great, weren’t they? This conclusion is ultimately subjective, but the 1982 high school comedy by Clueless director Amy Heckerling shows that the innocence of adolescence, while seemingly enduring, is bound to shatter amid the glamor and excess of the period.

​ Amy Heckerling’s ‘80s teen comedy Fast Times at Ridgemont High starring Sean Penn and Jennifer Jason Leigh stands out from the pack.