The Wild Life – The Movie Magazine

The Wild Life

“I think what they’re gonna get is better than Fast Times,” asserts Cameron Crowe between on-location takes for his new movie, The Wild Life, in the hallways of Torrance High School, south of Los Angeles.

Crowe is a fast mover. Published in Rolling Stone at age 15, he went on to authorship of a best-seller – plus a hit screenplay based on that same book. But he takes enough time to be certain he gets his point across: The Wild Life, whose characters are taking their first steps away from home and school, into the charms and pitfalls of swinging singlehood, is definitely not a sequel to Fast Times.

Pressure has been on Crowe, who wrote the script of The Wild Life and is also working as a co-producer on the movie, to come up with a very similar movie to his earlier opus – heavy on antics and high school subculture. “A group of theatre owners even sent in a petition to the studio,” Crowe says, “begging them to have us make Fast Times II. But I wanted to move forward, to take some growing-up steps and assume a slightly different focus.

“The Wild Life is an offshoot, sure, but it’s much more real. I think this has something of a Diner feel for a younger group of kids.”

The main characters of The Wild Life, as played by Eric Stoltz and Christopher Penn, are a guy who just got his first apartment and found out he can’t afford it alone, and his choice for a roommate, a “self-appointed love god and party connoisseur,” who failed to graduate with his buddies.

Penn, the younger brother of memorable Fast Times star Sean Penn, stars in the current hit Footloose and was also in All the Right Moves and Rumblefish. “He’s a more physical actor, a lot more extroverted than his brother,” says Crowe. “He plays a guy who changes all the lives around him without knowing what he’s doing.”

The changes materialize during an intense week, the first week of summer vacation following Stoltz and Penn’s senior year. It’s the time – as it was for the characters in the classic American Graffiti – to step over the line from childhood to adulthood. “This film is about the ‘small’ moments in their lives that have monumental effects,” Crowe explains.

Other stars include Randy Quaid (of Breaking Away and Diner fame) and Ilan Mitchell-Smith (“He’s our Win-A-Date-With character,” Crowe jokes, “a super good-looking young guy”), along with Lea Thompson (All the Right Movies), Jenny Wright, Hart Bochner (who played, in Rich and Famous, a writer loosely based on Crowe himself) and Rick Moranis, recently in SCTV’s popular “Great White North” series of sketches. Art Linson is the director and a co-producer with Crowe and Don Phillips.

The Wild Life opens this fall.

Courtesy of The Movie Magazine Vol II, No. 3 – Byron Laursen – Summer, 1984