Fast Times at Ridgemont High

  • Review Date: September 19, 2005
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 2005
  • Running Time: 90 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Teen movie is full of sex, drugs, and misbehavior.
  • Review Date: September 19, 2005
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 2005
  • Running Time: 90 minutes





What parents need to know

Positive messages

A character fails to help a girl he impregnated. Friends clash.


A locker room scuffle is quickly defused. A pot of hot coffee is thrown at a would-be convenience store robber.


A girl takes her bikini top off in a fantasy sequence, masturbation, depictions of male/female intercourse, an abortion.


Some strong language.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Characters smoke marijuana onscreen.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this film explores several issues involved with being a teenager. Sex is a major topic of the film. There are several scenes of semi-nudity (topless girls) and frank discussions between characters about sex. Featured in the film is a fifteen-year-old girl becoming pregnant and having an abortion, simulated oral sex using produce, and a male character masturbating. The film treats the topic of sex seriously, though, and does not glorify or advocate casual sex. There is also a significant amount of drug use, as one of the main characters attends class frequently under the influence of marijuana, and smokes it on-screen, however, with consequences. There is some strong language.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Based on Cameron Crowe's book, FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH is a satisfying portrait of teen life. The film shows a number of teenagers over the course of one school year. They fall in and out of love, work menial jobs, and attend school. Stacy Hamilton (Jennifer Jason Leigh) looks to her best friend Linda (Phoebe Cates) for advice on love and sex. Stacy's brother Brad (Judge Reinhold) is at the top of his game, with a lovely girlfriend and a job. Rat (Brian Backer) courts Stacy with often disastrous results. Jeff Spicoli's (Sean Penn) concerns are mainly surfing, smoking pot, and passing Mr. Hand's brutal American History class. Believable complications arise, as Brad loses his job and his girl in the course of one week, Stacy loses her virginity with troubling results, and Spicoli fails history.

Is it any good?


It's easy for movies to exaggerate or misinterpret teen life, but Fast Times does not. Crowe posed as a high school student while researching his book and it shows. Issues such as peer pressure, clashes with teachers at school, and the sheer boredom of after-school jobs are portrayed with humor and even-handedness. Problems are neither black nor white. Actions have consequences, (although, not in an after school special kind of way). Both Crowe and Director Amy Heckerling show genuine respect for their characters and refuse to belabor obvious points about life, love and growing up; instead letting the viewer make up their own minds.

Fast Times might appeal to girls in the tween set. However, parents should know that adult themes concerning drugs and sexuality featured in the film make it inappropriate for children under sixteen. Parents might want to view the film separately from their teens (for fear of embarrassment on both sides).

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how, as characters explore new territory in romance and friendships, they see the good and bad in equal measure. What are some of the dangers of growing up? What are some the rewards? The film celebrates friendships and a growing bond between a brother and sister. What is important in a successful relationship? How do people damage and repair friendships? This film also provides an excellent opportunity for parents and children to discuss peer pressure concerning sex and drug use. How realistic do you think the the portrayal of teen sex was? Do you think Stacey regrets how she lost her virginity? How does Spicoli's marijuana use affect his performance in history class? Do you think he deserved to miss the prom in favor of a history lesson?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:August 13, 2005
DVD release date:November 2, 2004
Cast:Jennifer Jason Leigh, Judge Reinhold, Sean Penn
Director:Amy Heckerling
Studio:Universal Pictures
Topics:High school
Run time:90 minutes
MPAA rating:R

This review of Fast Times at Ridgemont High was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Kid, 12 years old June 20, 2011


This is a great movie. Very funny. The best part of the movie is when Jeff ordered pizza in class.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 14 years old Written bymiranda1993 April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age
Teen, 16 years old Written bykhenderson21 July 31, 2012

Give it some thought.

I was a little caught off guard when I saw ths movie, even being fully prepared to handle this topic, though I did truly enjoy it. Just know your kid, or you could end up with some od questions.
What other families should know
Great role models
Too much sex
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking


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