You see this all the time with many reviewers. If you follow their writings, you will know how they feel about a horror film for example before you read their review. Many of them are going through the motions. And many of them feel that their opinions are more important that others. With our film festival, we used to bring in movie critics to moderate the short films that were screened. What happened was that they didn't moderate the events and interact with the crowd as they were hired to do, but scolded the audience on what film they felt was good and bad. None of them really talked about what the film was about or trying to say to an audience. And these were some of the top reviewers in North America. And when you got to know them personally, you understand that there wasn't much to them.
If you look at the list of a lot of journalists, reviewers, columnists etc.., you will find that many of those people are failed artists. They wanted to be a player but they weren't talented or motivated enough to obtain that status. So they decided to judge the players instead.
FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH nails what teenagers were going through then and now. It's a timeless film. How many teenagers are trying to grow up too fast and/or are forced to grow up too fast. So what happens is that their emotions are caught up with their realities in life. Sex is a great analogy of this. People become sexually active far too young and what happens is confused emotions and at times very adult conflicts that occur from it. When you're a teenager, you feel the urge to have sex and when you do you realize how much angst can occur from it.
And that's the point of Jennifer Jason Leigh's nudity. She's young and exposing herself to boys when she really shouldn't be. But she wants to be an adult. And that scene in the pool cabin of her laying down naked and full of regret defines what a girl goes through at that age.
Of course Sean Penn's performance of Jeff Spicoli is what will be remembered the most in this film. He's brilliant as he adds the comic edge to this film that balances the rest of the scenes. If there isn't a Spicoli, then the rest of the dramatic scenes won't work.