The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Universal - 1982
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 90 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
Subtitles: English SDH,, French, Spanish
Starring: Sean Penn, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Phoebe Cates, Judge Reinhold, Ray Walston, Robert Romanus, Brian Backer, Forest Whitaker, Anthony Edwards, Eric Stoltz, Scott Thomson, Vincent Schiavelli
Directed by: Amy Heckerling
Written by: Cameron Crowe based on his book
Region Code: A,B,C
Blu-ray Disc release Date: August 9, 2011
"At Ridgemont High only the rules get busted!"
Sean Penn leads an all-star cast in this hilarious portrayal of a group of Southern California high school students and their most important subjects: sex, drugs and rock'n'roll. Amy Heckerling's directorial debut brings to life first-time screenwriter Cameron Crowe's insider's view of teenage American life in the 1980s.
Fast Times at Ridgemont High is a cult classic that speaks to the 80’s teen generation. I graduated high school in 1982 and fully appreciate this hilarious take on a group of early eighties high school personalities. First-time screenwriter Cameron Crowe went undercover as a high school student and came back with the straight dope on sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll plus an interpretive cache of memorable characters. They're all here, from Stacy (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and Linda's (Phoebe Cates) sexual misadventures to go-getter Brad's (Judge Reinhold) quick career in the world of fast food to the unforgettable Jeff Spicoli (Sean Penn) as the ultimate surfer dude. The film faithfully captures the essence of the time period while adding an honest, awkwardly funny spin filled with priceless moments, and memorable lines. Each of the stories has an air of significance that supports the context as a whole and comes together neatly in the end.
I love Fast Times and find it to be one of those comedies that I never tire of watching. My favorite characters are Brad and Mike Damone. The reasons for liking Brad are obvious but I get questioned about Dimone. I know he commits an egregious act later in the story but I just like his shtick and find his interaction with Rat to be one of the film’s highlights. Outside of Brad and Dimone/Rat, I find Stacy/ Linda to be annoying, Spicoli and Mr. Hand amiably perfect, and the Rat/Stacy pairing to be a bore. The smaller plot points and lesser scenarios sprinkled throughout equally contribute to the fun. Ray Walston’s self righteous Mr. Hand is an entertaining counterbalance to Sean Penn’s burnt out Jeff Spicoli. Phoebe Cates’ spectacular pool scene/day dream sequence is still extremely hot (way to go Brad!). In addition to Sean Penn, the cast is filled with young talent that later go on to successful careers, Nicholas Cage (then 17 year old Nicholas Coppola), Jennifer Jason Leigh, Anthony Edwards, Forest Whitaker, and Eric Stolz being the most noteworthy. Fast times at Ridgemont High may not resonate as deeply with young people today but there is no denying its timeless relevance. Cameron Crowe’s script is pitch perfect and Amy Heckerling’s apt direction derive the most from the wonderful ensemble of young actors. It is a personal favorite that brings back fond memories and I am happy that it has made its way on to Blu-ray.
The rating is for language, sexual content, nudity, drug content and teen partying.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Fast times at Ridgemont High comes to Blu-ray disc from Universal Studios Home Entertainment featuring 1080p VC-1 encoded video that has an average bitrate of 32 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate 3.2 Mbps.
I own this film on DVD but this is my first time seeing it in high definition (I didn’t bother picking up the HD DVD release). It has never looked particularly good in standard definition and much of what is contained there is seen here. The film’s elements aren’t lent to sharp, bright imagery and the presence of grain is plainly obvious. Interior and nighttime shots often appear drab and lacking in definitive resolution. Exterior sequences such as those at the school and in Brad and Stacy’s backyard/pool offer improved dimension. Primary colors are well saturated and depending on the lighting, can appear vivid and eye catching. Black levels are just average and detail in shadows doesn’t offer appreciable depth which leaves dark sequences appearing flat. Contrast is stable and slightly elevated which boosts lighter onscreen elements. These innate qualities are shared by the DVD as well. The print is in fair shape with minor flecks visible here and there. The film’s grainy aesthetic exacerbates intermittent low level noise occasionally making it more prominent than it might be otherwise. Comparing this to the DVD I would say that it offers a marginal but discernible overall improvement.
The DTS-HD MA multi-channel audio renders the recorded elements in this soundtrack quite nicely. The 80’s pop music sounds terrific as the front three channels deliver the bulk of the audio while the surrounds add a light splash of ambience/reverb. Dialogue is always intelligible and prominent through the center channel. Sounds across the left, center and right speakers are clearly distinct with good dimensional spacing. There isn’t much deep bass however low frequency detail does support the music while adding punch to sound effects when called for. I was pleased with the quality of this lossless audio mix. It won’t fill your room with sound but conveys this energetic and fun soundtrack with aplomb.
- Feature commentary with director Amy Heckerling and writer Cameron Crowe
- Reliving our Fast times at Ridgemont High – 39 minute featurette
- U-Control: Screen Companion - In movie access to behind the scenes footage, interviews and more via a picture-in-picture window
- U-Control: The music of Fast times at Ridgemont High – Instantly identify the songs featured in the film while you watch. There is an option for playlist creation and purchase via iTunes
- Theatrical trailer
- My Scenes bookmark feature
- Pocket Blu - App for iPOD/iPHONE
- BD-Live enabled
Fast times at Ridgemont High, is a spicy cult classic that speaks to the 80’s teen generation via Cameron Crowe’s pitch perfect script that is sometimes sexy, sometimes thoughtful, sometimes slapstick – but always on target. It feels a little dated but hasn’t lost its appeal and is still laugh out loud funny, relevant and resonating. It debuts on Blu-ray Disc featuring lackluster high definition video, good lossless sound quality, interactive bonus features via Universal’s exclusive U-Control, and a vintage making of featurette. As someone who enjoys this film I am pleased to own it on Blu-ray and suspect that this offering from Universal Studios Home entertainment presents it in its finest light. If you don’t already own it on home video this is the version I would recommend.
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