AFI Movie Club: FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH – American Film Institute



FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH, a classic coming-of-age comedy, was directed by AFI Conservatory alum Amy Heckerling (AFI Class of 1974) and featured a talented ensemble cast including Jennifer Jason Leigh, Phoebe Cates, Judge Reinhold and Sean Penn. The film was ranked #87 on AFI’s 100 Years…100 Laughs list of the funniest American movies.


DID YOU KNOW? A 22-year-old Cameron Crowe went undercover for an entire school year as a student at Clairemont High School in San Diego to do research for his book, which he eventually adapted into the screenplay for FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH.

DID YOU KNOW? FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH was originally offered to director and AFI Conservatory alum David Lynch (AFI Class of 1970), who turned it down. Fellow AFI alum Amy Heckerling (AFI Class of 1974) then landed the job on the strength of her AFI thesis film, GETTING IT OVER WITH. FAST TIMES marked her feature directorial debut.

DID YOU KNOW? Actress Jennifer Jason Leigh prepared for the role of Stacy Hamilton by rereading her own high school diaries and letters, as well as taking a job at the Sherman Oaks Galleria Perry’s Pizza restaurant for three weeks.

DID YOU KNOW? Future movie star Tom Hanks was originally considered to play the role of Brad, while Matthew Broderick and Eric Stoltz auditioned for the part of surfer slacker Jeff Spicoli, which eventually went to Sean Penn.

DID YOU KNOW? Jodie Foster was a top choice to play the character of Stacy, while Diane Lane, Brooke Shields and Ellen Barkin were also considered.

DID YOU KNOW? One of the producers, Irving Azoff, was also the manager of The Eagles and Stevie Nicks, which led the artists to contribute music for the film’s soundtrack.

DID YOU KNOW? FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH marked the first feature performance of Nicolas Cage, who went by “Nicolas Coppola” in the credits.

DID YOU KNOW? In 1986, there was a short-lived TV series inspired by “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” which starred a young Courtney Thorne-Smith as Stacy and Patrick Dempsey as Mike Damone.

Learn more at the AFI Catalog.

Click Here to Find Out How to Watch FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH Now



The movie doesn’t end at the credits: Discussion Questions

Join the conversation on Twitter and Instagram now using #AFIMovieClub. Or post your responses in the comment section below.

  • How has high school changed since the days of FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH and how is it also the same?
  • How does the film portray the insecurities of being an adolescent authentically?
  • What is your favorite coming-of-age film?
  • Which character in the cast do you relate to the most?
  • How are friends Stacy and Linda set up as counterparts? How does it portray sexuality in a nuanced and realistic way?
  • How does the film compassionately portray Stacy’s predicament of accidentally getting pregnant and terminating the pregnancy? How is it a watershed depiction of abortion?
  • What’s your favorite comedic moment in the film, and why do you think it still resonates today?
  • How would you rate FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH?


AFI has created a global, virtual gathering of those who love the movies. See all of the titles programmed for AFI Movie Club here. Each day’s film is accompanied by fun facts, family-friendly discussion points and material from the AFI Archive to enrich your viewing experience. Learn more in our FAQ section.

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