Nicolas Cage in: Fast Times at Ridgemont High

Fast Times at Ridgemont High

Released in 1982 ▪ Review posted May 18, 2014

“Don’t you see!? We’re actors—we’re the opposite of people.”

Tom Stoppard

Fast Times at Ridgemont High is awkward. You know, like every moment of high school. Mall culture is awkward. ’80s movies are awkward. Teenage sex is awkward. Judge Reinhold is inherently awkward. Then there’s Nicolas Cage as, essentially, an under-fiver. Oh, and he’s credited as Nicolas Coppola. That amount of awkward.

For those unfamiliar with Nicolas Cage’s lineage, he’s Francis Ford Coppola’s nephew, so “Nicolas Coppola” is his given name. He changed it early on so that he could make his own name for himself without being tied to the reputation of someone else. He definitely accomplished this, but you have to wonder whether things turned out like he was expecting. In more recent interviews, Cage cites harassment and a lack of career traction due to the Coppola name as further motivation to change it. This is one of just two movies he acted in before making the switch. (The other is a TV movie from 1981 called Best of Times.)

Credited only as “Brad’s Bud,” Cage is seen in Fast Times at Ridgemont High flipping burgers, taping signs to people’s backs, cheering for the Ridgemont High football team (quarterbacked by a young Forest Whitaker) and generally being someone in the background. The most you can ask from an actor in a role so insignificant is that they refrain from being a distracting eyesore that draws attention away from the intended focus of the scene. Here, the best (and only) thing I can say about Cage is that he succeeds at blending in, which is a feat when you’re Nicolas Cage.

How was the movie?
How was Nic Cage’s acting?
Did his performance make the movie worse?
Not this time!