Growing Up too Fast

Fast Times at Ridgemont High (Cameron Crowe, 1982) is truly a movie that needs to be experienced. It covers a year at Ridgemont High School and mainly follows a few main characters. Sean Penn plays Jeff Spicoli, a junior at Ridgemont who loves to get high and surf. He and his history teacher, Mr. Hand have a hostile relationshi


A movie poster for Fast Times at Ridgemont High picturing Steve Spicoli (cast by Sean Penn).

p. Jennifer Jason Leigh plays Stacy Hamilton, a sophomore who is trying to find love and experiment with boys sexually. Brad Hamilton, Stacy’s brother, played by Judge Reinhold is a senior trying to have the best year of his life, but things just don’t go his way. Mark Ratner, cast by Brian Backer is an awkward sophomore who is in search of love from Stacy. Mark’s right-hand man, Mike Damone played by Robert Romanus is a smooth and charming ticket scalper. Lastly, Linda Barrett, cast by Phoebe Cates is Stacy’s best friend and works with her at Ridgemont malls, pizza parlor.


The film flips through each character and highlights their primary experiences. We see Jeff Spicoli’s constant conflict with his teacher, Mr. Hand as well as his constant struggles. For example, he totaled the star football player, Charles Jefferson’s car. We also see the ongoing efforts of Brad Hamilton. Until the end of the film, nothing goes his way. He gets dumped by his girlfriend, gets fired from his job, gets caught “in the act,” as well as many other results if bad luck. His sister, Stacy is in search of sexual activities during the film. She loses her virginity to a 26-year-old at the beginning of the movie. Later in the movie, she gets pregnant and gets an abortion. Stacy’s best friend, Linda is always by her side whether it be advice at work or revenge at Mike. Until the end, she has an older boyfriend who is never shown in the film. In the end, she ends up breaking up with him. Another main character is Mark Ratner, who had a crush on Stacy throughout the movie. He is a very awkward guy that learns a lot about approaching women from his right-hand man, Mike Damone. Mike makes his money from scalping concert tickets. He is a very confident and smooth guy. Mike is the one who gets Stacy pregnant. When Mark finds out, he wants to fight Mike. At the conclusion of the film, Mark and Mike make up.

Thesis: Cameron Crowe’s, Fast Times at Ridgemont High depicts teenagers “coming of age” through the different experiences of Stacy Hamilton and Mark Ratner.

Topic Sentence #1: Throughout the film, we see “coming of age” treated differently by various characters.

This paragraph will:

  • explain coming of age
  • Provide concrete evidence of how it is treated by various characters
  • Transition into next paragraphs over specific “coming of age” moments

Topic Sentence #2: Stacy Hamilton begins her coming of age at the start of the film, but doesn’t complete it until the end.

This paragraph will:

  • Explain her different experiences throughout the film
  • Explain her growth
  • Show her full “coming of age” experience

Topic Sentence #3: Mark Ratner has a very slow “coming of age,” but throughout he is able to come full circle and experience tremendous growth.

This paragraph will:

  • Highlight Mark’s slow coming of age
  • Display his growth throughout the film
  • Explain how he has come full circle
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