Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Watching Movies In Suits [Fast Times At Ridgemont High]

Suits is a show on the USA Network that one of my good friends had been trying to get me to watch for the longest time. Long story short, I finally bit the bullet. I fell in love almost instantly with the drama, humor and story being top notch. Also the sly movie references was the icing on the cake for me. They are littered in every episode and gave me this idea for a weekly blog series. Suits in short follows the story of a successful law firm in New York. Their top lawyer hires a kid who is basically a genius, but never went to law school. The kid must learn the ins and outs of working at a law firm, alongside higher ups and with arguably the best paralegal in the city. The longer this charade goes the harder it seems that his dirty little secret will stay one. We're continuing this series with one of the 80s defining teen dramas in, Fast Times At Ridgemont High!

Suits Fast Times At Ridgemont High Reference

Like my previous review for Top Gun I remember watching Fast Times At Ridgemont High on TV when I was younger. I don't remember liking it then, but it's probably cause I didn't really understand what was going on. It was a different era, with different humor tastes and references. I watched this again to jog my memory on what I had lazily watched as a kid. I kinda enjoyed myself. This is definitely not your typical teen movie you'd see nowadays. A lot of the humor is more grounded and "real" as well a dry, the story is pretty good as well. If you're looking for a Not Another Teen Movie or Mean Girls type movie this could be for you in a sense. There's a lot of similarities between one of the more ground breaking teen-high dramas and current ones. But it may be painfully easy to group this in with some of the garbage we see in current films.

Fast Times At Ridgemont High follows the story of a group of high school students at Ridgemont High over the course of a semester. Brad Hamilton (Judge Reinhold) is a senior who appears to have it all together. His job at the local burger joint gives him popularity. He has a longtime girlfriend, Lisa (Amanda Wyss). Finally, his 1960 LeSaber, aka The Cruising Vessel, has finally been paid off. Life is good for Brad, for the moment. We also follow the story of Brad's younger sister, Stacey (Jennifer Jason Leigh), a sophomore. She is worried that she isn't pretty or experienced enough to have an engaging relationship with a guy. Her best friend, a popular senior Linda (Phoebe Cates), has a long term boyfriend. Assures her she is pretty enough, etc, and one day the right guy will come. Mike Damone (Robert Romanus) makes money scalping tickets and working as a bookie for the high-school  He thinks he's the ultimate ladies man. Mike notices his younger brother, "Rat" (Brian Backer), has a crush on Stacey and sets them up. Finally we come to Jeff Spicoli (Sean Penn) the school's widely renowned stoner. Always being high, he often arrives late to American History, taught by strict teacher Mr. Hand (Ray Walston). The two seem to have an eternal rivalry of sorts going on as the semesters roll along. With Jeff always trying to break Mr. Hand's gruff attitude. The lead football player Charles Jefferson (Forest Whitaker) goes off in a rival football game, relationships are formed and broken and it seems that drama is around every corner this year Ridgemont High.

If you like the notion of things always working out in the end of a movie, this is right up your alley. This movie is written pretty well. Full of humor and drama to keep you occupied until the end. From relationships starting and stopping, to rival school shenanigans and even to family problems, this movie gives you a ton to keep up with. This ties in with the characters cause they were done pretty well. Jeff Spicoli was the token stoner and thrown in for a laugh, and it worked. Some of the stuff, such as ordering a pizza to eat in class, is so absurd you have to smile. To a lesser extent Brad Hamilton, falling from grace so to speak is pretty entertaining as well. Stacey and Linda are the last of the standouts. Despite the age difference mentioned they have a best friend dynamic that really does work from beginning to end. To a lesser extent it was pretty cool to see Forest Whitaker as a young actor in Charles and Mr. Hand was a pretty decent supporting character as well. I'll also point out the performances of these actors as well, since that's the other big plus in this movie. This may be Sean Penn's greatest comedy role of all time and he played it perfectly. His and Ray Walston's on-screen chemistry was great. Judge Rienhold commanded the screen whenever he was on and he's probably my personal favorite performance in the movie. Jennifer Jason Leigh and Phoebe Cates carry the scenes they're in and make quite a great on-screen "BFF" couple. As a side note here, Ididn't like Mike or "Rat" Damoe's characters, or performances by their acting counterparts Robert Romanus and Brian Backer. They came off as entitled and pretty annoying in my opinion.

I'm going actually cut this review short a paragraph. That's because in a few sentences, without going into huge detail, my reasons for disliking this can be made clear. First off, for a teen comedy of sorts, it feels really long. It's run time is fine, but unnecessary and draggy scenes make this feel way longer than it actually is. The other big deal for me was the mashing together of all these stories. I'm fine with a movie with more than one story going on. But a lot of times it was pretty sporadic with jumping from one point to another or jumping forward in time. You don't want to confuse your audience by just jumping from place to place in a story. Other than this was just an okay movie for me. The music was good and the story was too. The acting was decent and the humor, especially with Spicoli, was pretty good. This is one of those movies you'll either get really into and like or only think it's a okay movie. Unfortunately I'm in the latter half of that statement and that's kinda sad cause I was really looking forward to re-watching this.

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