The movie is more a curiosity piece now, given that many of the "teens" in this movie went on to have big Hollywood careers, but it really does capture an era. I guess you had to have grown up in it to appreciate it.
It's one of these come-of-age flicks that have the vibe of honesty and know it too well. There are some great creations here and it captures the spirit of early 80's really well, before War on Drugs really took hold and made fuckin' fun much harder. It's up in the alley with other genre milestones IMO.
Sure, it's rough around the edges, and it definitely feels like Cameron Crowe's first script, but there's an honesty and a warmth to this movie that strikes me whenever I catch it. As far as high school movies go, it's not as seminal as American Graffiti or Dazed and Confused, but there's a reason it's still remembered (and it's not just the Phoebe Cates pool scene).
I get this is supposed to be an easy watch and a romanticized look at high school, with its attractive actors, fun spirit and quality soundtrack. Yet, I feel like it's too light for its own good. Besides being one of those comedies that confuses lightness for actual humor, it never lets the heavier moments sink in and resolves conflicts far too quickly and simply. It's escapism, but to the point of meaninglessness.
"You want romance? At Ridgemond? We can't even get cable TV down here!" Charming feelgood flick that has aged quite well. Believable and three-dimensional characters, even Sean Penn's stoner caricature works fine, although Jennifer Jason Leigh's performance is by far the best one.