FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH CRITERION COLLECTION BLU RAY REVIEW

Cameron Crowe, the director of JERRY MAGUIRE and ALMOST FAMOUS, is the name most directly related to FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH. Makes sense really. It is based on his source novel of the same name. Which was a kind of expose of the life and times of teen school kids. He also adapted the screenplay from said book. But in truth just as important to the film is Amy Heckerling, who is given due credit and respect from the team over at Criterion collection.

Ridgemont High School is a rocking sort of place. Brad Hamilton (Judge Reinhold) is a popular senior there. His sister Stacy (Jennifer Jason Leigh) also attends. As does Mark “Rat” Ratner (Brian Backer) who adores her from afar. Stacy’s best friend Linda Barrett (Phoebe Cates) suggest she go after real men, instead of boys. Jeffrey “Jeff” Spicoli (Sean Penn) never wants to be a real man, he just wants to smoke weed! All in all, Ridgemont is the place to be!

I am torn between loving FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH and dismissing it as a weaker version of a coming of age comedy. I am not dismissing it, just suggesting that all involved did better work. This said it is valuable as a document of growing talent. Heckerling transforms the film with assured direction. All with a young and under experienced cast and slightly weak script. Crowe scripts is weak and baggy, sure. But the soundtrack fills the holes admirably. The cast also play it for what it is. This is the highest reason to like the film.  Heckerling and screenwriter Cameron Crowe commentary pieces (Heckerling is the better) tell it as it is. The cast made the film bearable. Conversation with filmmaker Olivia Wilde is actually more informative about the making but the commentary outlines the casts hard work and resourcefulness in making the film.

DISC

The 4k is not revolutionary. It is not extraordinary. All it really does is iron out that horrid DVD light issues. 80s stock suffers a lot from light leak and flash. This is almost gone. Almost mind. When we have the scenes within the night and schools, you will see the leak still. flat light does this awfully.

EXTRAS

The best extra? Television version of the film from the eighties, featuring deleted and alternate scenes. I would suggest watching this first (in truth only this!). The conversation between Olivia Wilde reveals her love of the film, and her understanding of the craft behind it.

DIRECTOR-APPROVED SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES

• New, restored 4K digital transfer, supervised by director Amy Heckerling, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack
• Audio commentary from 1999 featuring Heckerling and screenwriter Cameron Crowe
• Television version of the film from the eighties, featuring deleted and alternate scenes
• New conversation with Heckerling and Crowe, moderated by filmmaker Olivia Wilde
• Reliving Our “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” a 1999 documentary featuring interviews with cast and crew
• Audio discussion from 1982 with Heckerling at the American Film Institute
• More!
• English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
• PLUS: An essay by film critic Dana Stevens and a new introduction by Crowe

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