The cinematic equivalent of comfort food and righteous fan porn in the year 2020 is not director Christopher Nolan’s Tenet or Josh Boone’s New Mutants but rather the proliferation of virtual table reads reuniting some of our favorite casts from our most cherished movie-going experiences. Call it a curious by-product of the wonky Covid-19 era we’re all collectively having the same shared nightmare over. For while everything else seems to be going to hell in the proverbial handbasket, most of us just want the reassurance from a throwaway line of dialogue in a popular film or the patented head nod of a respected thespian as they throw their talents behind recreating in an altogether immobile fashion the characters that made them household names; The cast of Goonies did it. So did those loveable scalawags from Tom Hanks’ That Thing You Do. Sans an actual sequel (which usually suck almost as badly as the inevitable remakes/reboots anyways, whom are we kidding) these reunions with popular film casts are about as good as it gets. Like I said at the start of this missive; it’s comfort food in very uncertain and unfamiliar times.
Up next at bat for a table read is Fast Times at Ridgemont High which will feature none other than perennial stoner-cum-surfer himself Jeff Spicoli, A.K.A. Sean Penn who will –ironically- not be reprising his sophomore role from Amy Heckerling’s classic film, but rather will be reading a different part (My guess; Legendary actor Ray Walston’s iconic Mr. Hand.) The table read, which will take place on Thursday, September 17 at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT, will also showcase actors Jennifer Aniston, Julia Roberts, Matthew McConaughey, Morgan Freeman, Henry Golding and Shia LaBeouf. No straight dope has gotten out about which roles this fantastic cast will specifically essay, although word ‘round campfire has it that it may be prudent for fans tuning in to expect some surprise cameos. As a tremendous fan of the 1982 original, might I suggest to the producers they make use of other original cast members such as the always brilliant Robert Romanus (Mike Damone), Judge Reinhold (Brad Hamilton), Jennifer Jason Leigh (Stacy Hamilton) and Forest Whitaker (Charles Jefferson)? By the way, I had to seriously edit my list of amazing actors in Fast Times because it’s packed to the rafters with so many to choose from. It was indeed the American Graffiti of the 1980s.
The table read will be presided over by comedian par-excellence Dane Cook and will go fan service one better by having the film’s original scripter – some guy named Cameron Crowe (Singles, Almost Famous) – and the extraordinary talent that helmed the ’82 production, Amy Heckerling (Clueless, Johnny Dangerously) introduce this virtual iteration of their beloved American comedy. This one-on/one-off presentation has the added bonus of being put on for dual great causes: Sean Penn’s co-conceived emergency relief nonprofit CORE and the REFORM Alliance.
In a statement about the unexpected rejuvenation of the characters he created, scribe Cameron Crowe said that “Sean brought magic to us on day one, and he is still bringing that magic to the world. We are so excited to be a part of this 2020 take on Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Thank you to this cast, and to Sean, for always honoring the best things in life, love, and creativity. It is, as a great man once said, totally awesome.”
Mr. Spicoli himself threw in his five cents, saying, in part, “I’m always game for a giggle. So, to gather remotely for a night of laughs with so many talented folks while providing CORE with much-needed resources to continue our vital work, then consider us fully on board to play!”
So gather around the 21st Century version of a campfire, gals and guys, for the Fast Times at Ridgemont High table read this coming Thursday. Tune in and drop out on the CORE Response Facebook and TikTok accounts. In the words of All-American Burger Employee of the Month Brad Hamilton: “Learn it. Know it. Live it.”