The makers of the 1982 cult bildungsroman film Fast Times at Ridgemont High might as well have taken a big, steaming shit in the middle of the room and called that their movie. There, I’ve said it.
Normally, I’m pretty forgiving, especially when it comes to movies–as you know, I’m more a music guy–but there are times when a continuity error so completely ruins a movie, so completely shatters a filmmaker’s carefully constructed illusion, so completely disrupts one’s suspension of disbelief that I have to snap the thing off in disgust. So it was when I watched a DVD of Fast Times At Ridgemont High Saturday night.
Allow me to explain: “When it comes down to makin’ out, whenever possible, put on side one of Led Zeppelin IV.” So says the smooth moving ladies man Mike Damone (Robert Romanus) to his nebbish chum, Mark “Rat” Ratner (Brian Backer). Now, this is one piece of advice that I can personally vouch for–ha, ha! Anyway, the scene immediately cuts to “Rat” and the girl he’s trying to nail cruising in his sister’s car and sure enough, they’re rockin’ to the heavy blues sounds of Led Zeppelin.
Except that he’s playing side two.
Of Physical Graffiti!
I almost threw up.
Right there, I thought, “These people don’t know what the fuck they’re doing!” I turned off the DVD and watched highlights of the West Brom match I’d recorded on BT Vision. I simply couldn’t take seriously a movie with such a grievous mistake. It fair ruined my night, I can tell you–that and our loss to Southampton!
But could this error be excused somehow? “Rat” was playing the music on the car’s cassette deck and the particular song he was playing, “Kashmir”, is the penultimate track on the first side of the cassette issue; this might constitute the “side one” of Damone’s directive. But that still doesn’t alter the fact that it would be side one of the sixth Zep album and not the fourth!
Okay, maybe I’m being unfair. Perhaps, in having the character play a song from an Lp two along from the one he was specifically asked to do, the writers are demonstrating “Rat”‘s cack-handedness, his lack of knowledge and “cool”. Certainly, he’s totally oblivious to the heavy sexual hints he’s getting from Stacy Hamilton (Jennifer Jason Leigh). Or maybe it’s because they weren’t actually “makin’ out” yet and he was saving Zoso for then.
But you know what, if either were true, that would be awfully subtle writing and, frankly, gives director Amy Heckerling, et al. a little too much credit. No, I was right to switch Fast Times off; it’s a badly made film and they should feel bad for having made it.
Robert Plant is a singer/songwriter and regular contributor to Thrifty Vinyl.