16th Jan2020

Nicolas Cage Appreciation Society: Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)

by Kevin Haldon

Well people we are kicking off the Appreciation of our Lord and Saviour Nicolas Cage proper with his first official big screen debut in this Amy Heckerling directed, Cameron Crowe biographical tale Fast Times at Ridgemont High. A movie that admittedly I have never actually seen but heard many a great thing about this 80s coming of age comedy that launched many a career including the figurehead of our Appreciaton Society.

Now from what I know this one is a cameo but they all count and we shall count em all.

Fast Times at Ridgemont High


Director: Amy Heckerling | Writers: Cameron Crowe
Stars: Nicolas Cage, Sean Penn, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Judge Reinhold, Ray Walston, Brian Backer, Pheobe Cates

Fast Times at Ridgemont High is your typical 80s/90s high school coming of age comedy/drama centered around bringing us the life and times of several young school students dealing with the trials and tribulations of life. People like Jeff Spicoli (Sean Penn) a surfer dude pot head coasting through his last year but Mr Hand (Ray Walston) is determined to teach him a thing or two. Stacey Hamilton (Jennifer Jason Leigh) is on a quest to find her perfect mate and she thinks she may have found it in Mark Ratner (Brian Backer). Staceys brother Brad (Judge Reinhold) is unlucky in love and cant seem to catch a break… etc etc etc…. you know how it goes, the characters start with minimum drama, pile all the drama on themselves then it all comes to a head usually at the big end of year dance…

I am gutted to have waited this long to have seen this movie, while it is definitely a by product of its time it has all the honesty, charm and appeal you would later come to expect from Cameron Crowe in his later works like Almost Famous and others, handled masterfully by a starting out Amy Heckerling. The young cast of “oh my god most of these guys are going to become huge stars” are for the most part superb. One of the things I always hear about Fast Times is that Sean Penn absolutely steals the show as Spicoli and while I do think he is great the heart and soul lies in the performances from Jennifer Jason Leigh and Judge Reinhold, they are fantastic. Don’t let this take away from the supporting cast though because I genuinely grew to like pretty much everyone here. with the exception of Mike Damone, he is a prick.

How was our Lord and Saviour Nicolas Cage??? Still Nicolas Coppola at this point but that is about to change

Ummmm to call this a cameo is being kind. I almost missed any scenes with Nic in here, they were that short and brief that if you blinked you had missed it. You cant even rely on listening out for any of his over dramatic line deliveries because he doesnt have any!!! So no real signs of the legend we would come to find here but hey remember there are no small parts and I guess having that Coppola name attached was to much of a selling point not to have him on board.

On the plus side I can now tick Fast Times at Ridgemont High off my “You really should have seen this” list. I now get all the Pheobe Cates Stranger Things references and when Jennifer Jason Leigh is on screen in a movie I am happy so there is always that.



So here is a bit of Nic Cage Fast Times at Ridgemont High trivia… He was originally considered for the role of Brad Hamilton, but the studio thought his performance was too dark. Nic was also 17 at the time, and could not work as many hours as 18-year-olds. So he lied about his age so that he could get a bigger part but was found out by the studio.


This was the big mans first credited big screen movie and he was barely in it so now I want some guaranteed Cage. I am skipping right to his latest outing in which he stars alongside Kelsey Grammer, 2019’s Grand Isle.


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