Release Date: June 26th, 1982 (Japan)
Directed by: Boaz Davidson
Written by: Boaz Davidson
Music by: Deborah Harry, Mark Allen
Cast: Lawrence Monoson, Diane Franklin, Steve Antin, Joe Rubbo, Louisa Moritz, Brian Peck, Kimmy Robertson
Cannon Film Distributors, 92 Minutes
Fast Times at Ridgemont High is a beloved film for all the right reasons. The big thing about it is that it tackled the darker parts of teen life. It covers the subject of abortion, which really hadn’t been touched on in a teen comedy before. But au contraire, it was first addressed in The Last American Virgin, which came out a few months earlier than Fast Times but didn’t get as much press and admiration.
Part of that is also due to this being a smaller release. It was a little flick put out by the awesome Cannon Films but it didn’t have the marketing power of Fast Times at Ridgemont High, which was put out by a major studio and hit more theaters upon its release. The Last American Virgin found life later on video store shelves and on late night television like pretty much all of Cannon’s catalog.
Comparisons aside, The Last American Virgin is darker than Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Sure, it is a comedy but it conveys the struggles of teen’s falling in love a bit more realistically than Fast Times. Not to take anything away from that film but this film carries more emotional weight. While it is a comedy and it is even more over the top than Fast Times, it finds a way to go to darker places while perfectly balancing itself out. It actually takes the comedy and the seriousness of Fast Times and pushed both of those elements further.
Now I think that Fast Times at Ridgemont High is a much better film but The Last American Virgin is still damn good too. It isn’t comprised of a large ensemble of huge Hollywood stars before they broke out, the kids here feel like real kids dealing with real problems. For any guy who fell head over heels for a girl in high school that they just couldn’t be with, this picture will reel you in. Despite its goofiness and raunchiness its heart is true and it shows. Spoiler alert: this does not have a happy ending, where Fast Times at Ridgemont High ended positively for all the kids in the film.
Both films also had dynamite music but The Last American Virgin has one of the best 1980s movie soundtracks. The film boasts songs by Blondie, Devo, U2, The Police, KC and the Sunshine Band, Quincy Jones, The Human League, The Commodores, Oingo Boingo, Journey, REO Speedwagon, The Cars and others.
If you enjoy 80s teen comedies and haven’t seen this one, you probably should. It is lower budget and there is a noticeable difference in quality between this and the better known films of the genre but it is just as effective as the best teen pictures to come out of the 80s.