This film has quite a reputation, but you know what? It's pretty overrated. Oh yeah, it's entertaining, but I always thought there was more to this movie than there really is, and that it was far more epic or something. Instead, it is funny and entertaining, but underwhelming. I think the style is to blame.
The film follows a group of high school students over the course of a school year, focusing on three main storylines in particular. It's got a very loose episodic feel to it, and, even though I like that sort of thing occasionally, it didn't really work for me here. The film feels a little too jumbled and sporadic. Maybe it should have been more clear with the passage of time ot more tightly focused or something. I think they could have just followed one of these characters more, then restricted the rest to less focus. That could have been better. Instead, the film tries to do a bit much, but given the running time, everything becomes rushed.
I can look at this film nostalgically, as it was before my time, but I can appreciate it as camp or kitsch, and on that level, it's pretty damn fun. Part of the time. There are some dips into serious territroy, and I think they do work for the most part. I'm not like Ebert who called this film mysoginistic and a scuzz pit (or something). The film does sport a (now) very very notable cast, and the performances are really good, especially from scene stealers Sean Penn and Ray Walston. Cates, Leigh, and Reinhold all do quite well also.
I was a bit disappointed that this film didn't quite live up to all the hype,but it does capture the times pretty decently, and there are some good moments and laughs, plus I was never bored, so yeah. Give this one a shot, bud.