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Uncaged - The Best of Times & Fast Times at Ridgemont High

This year, I am going to try to get through the whole oeuvre of Nicolas Cage because my fascination with this man and his contradictions is endless. God help me.

The Best of Times (1981)

The Best of Times was an unaired TV pilot, meant to be a sketch comedy show. It features pretty typical 80’s cheesy humor, not unlike say the Disney Channel or Nickelodeon. Despite the wholesomeness of the show and the vision of a pre-George McFly Crispin Glover in full earnest mode, you can already see the seeds of the insanity of the Cage. Cage (credited as Nic Coppola) plays a roided out jock, who likes nothing better than to show off his admittedly impressive physique. Even at that age (17), he stands out with his raw, nervy energy and strange delivery.

Meme-worthy moment: Nicolas Cage playing a comb as an instrument with one hand. Context does not matter, trust me.

Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)

Admittedly, Nic Cage is not much of a presence here. He plays the friend of Judge Reinhold’s Brad and appears in one scene. However, it gave me a chance to revisit a movie I didn’t connect to when I first saw it. Directed by Amy Heckerling, it’s smart, well-directed and funny with a lot of colorful characters, and some very believable stupid teen behavior. It’s also surprisingly sad. A lot of the characters don’t necessarily end up happy. Brad is kind of a sad character, working menial jobs. The film makes no indication that he has a brighter future in store beyond that he gets promoted at the end at the convenience store he works at. Damone (Robert Romanus) is also kind of pathetic, a small-time hustler who can’t quite deal with crushing reality when he impregnates Stacy (Jennifer Jason Leigh). Only Jeff Spicoli (Sean Penn) has the best hope for the future, since nothing seems to bother the guy. I feel like surfer bros learned how to talk because of Spicoli rather than vice versa, just because his performance is so precise and hilarious. There is a lot more self-awareness than I originally gave credit for, and I can see how Heckerling and Cameron Crowe would become the best creators of content for teenagers and young people in general.

 

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