The 1980s proved to be the golden age of teen movies. While working for Rolling Stone magazine (a period depicted in his film Almost Famous (2000)), Cameron Crowe, although 22, returned to high school as an undercover reporter (an idea revisited with some success in Never Been Kissed (1999)). Working from Crowe’s screenplay based on this experience, director Amy Heckerling, who would return to the genre in 1995 with Clueless, ushered in this new era with a realistic portrayal of teen concerns and a frankness about sex that was a world away from films such as Porky’s (1982).
Crowe’s understanding of and sympathy for the characters facing unwanted pregnancy and uncertain futures shine through, but there’s also a rich vein of humour throughout, particularly in Sean Penn’s performance as the perma-stoned Spicoli.
Screening as part of Teenage Kicks: American Teens on Film (August 4th – 28th).