Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)

Falls prey to the gross guy’s perspective a few times (see the casual homophobia, teen boobs fantasy, the “bro code” being more important than the girl’s well-being), but not as often as I feared thanks to its loose, authentic-feeling storytelling and a few moments of surprising depth (see Brad picking up Stacy). Brad’s job woes and Spicoli ordering pizza to history class are two comedic highlights (“Just what in the hell do you think you’re doing?” “Eating some food, learning about Cuba”).

Say Anything… (1989)


A noble underachiever and a beautiful valedictorian fall in love the summer before she goes off to college. (IMDb)
While at times making it feel a little tangential and light, ultimately the broad multi-perspective narrative approach to telling this love story gives it an organic vibe while putting fresh spins on typical romance plot points (the pre-ending break-up had a unique cause) and throwing in new ones too (see Diane’s dad twist). Memorable dialogue with a flair for the poetic (see Lloyd’s monologue in the car, the final airplane scene), and artful edits (see Lloyd with the boys) give it extra juice.
7.5/10 (Really Good)


Almost Famous (2000)


A high-school boy is given the chance to write a story for Rolling Stone Magazine about an up-and-coming rock band as he accompanies it on their concert tour. (IMDb)
In light of the quick and witty opening (Deschanel and McDormand have great mom-daughter chemistry) and satisfying end (“There’s still hope for you”) the middle feels a bit messy and tonally inconsistent (the airplane scene was hilarious but could have been a great serious moment), but probably appropriately so, given the film’s coming-of-age plot and wild rock ‘n roll tour setting. Themes of love, integrity, and fame pop in and out of the busy script–interesting, but not always fully impacting.
7.5/10 (Really Good)


Jerry Maguire (1996)


When a sports agent has a moral epiphany and is fired for expressing it, he decides to put his new philosophy to the test as an independent with the only athlete who stays with him. (IMDb)
An atypical, roller-coaster-like plot trajectory gives this film a vibrantly distinct disposition (see Maguire’s moral transformation only 10 minutes in and the vacillating and volatile romantic side-story that remains so after marriage) that’s underscored further by its zany humour, engaging sports-business drama, and the fascinating oscillating nature of the lead character, and compromised only slightly by the happy ending. The film’s pace is a little quick, but it’s better than too slow.
8/10 (Great)