Can't Hardly Wait Movie Review

Movie Review by Anthony Leong © Copyright 1999

There is fate, but it only takes you so far, because once you're there, it's up to you to make it happen.
Jennifer Love-Hewitt

It's the last night of high school. The degrees have been handed out, the pictures with friends and family have all been taken, and the lockers have been emptied for the very last time. The seniors of Huntington Hills High School are ready to take their first steps towards adulthood, leaving behind the difficult and often confusing travails of adolescence... but not before some serious PARTYING!

I don't know about you, but I really believe that there's one person out there, and for me, it's gotta be Amanda.

Kicking off the summer in a big way, the newly-minted alumnae of Huntington Hills converge on some poor girl's house to do what all movie teens do best... get drunk and get laid (usually in that order, too). Among those attending is Preston Meyers (Ethan Embry of "That Thing You Do"), an eloquent would-be writer who has been pining for the beautiful Amanda Beckett (Jennifer Love Hewitt of "I Know What You Did Last Summer" and its sequel) for the past four years. It seems that Preston feels that Amanda and himself are kindred spirits, as he was the first guy to lay eyes on her when she arrived at Huntington Hills, and they both ate a Pop Tart for breakfast while in class (yeah, right). However, high school jock Mike Dexter (Peter Facinelli) ended up scooping Amanda up first, leaving Preston lovelorn ever since. Fortunately, the scuttlebutt during graduation is that Mike and Amanda have broken up, providing Preston an opportunity to ask her out... provided that he can work up the courage.

Tonight, Mike Dexter will know humiliation. Tonight, Mike Dexter will know ridicule. Tonight is the night we fight back! Tonight is our independence night!
Lauren Ambrose and Ethan Embry

The rest of the movie is padded with a number of subplots, mostly inconsequential, except for the one involving Preston's cynical ex-girlfriend Denise (Lauren Ambrose), who feels ill-at-ease amidst the drunken debauchery unfolding around her (making her character easy to identify with if you don't like 'teenagers getting drunk and partying' type movies). Other subplots include: the egotistical Kenny Fisher (Seth Green) wants to lose his virginity before the party is over, the geeky William Lichter (Charlie Korsmo) plans his revenge against Mike Dexter, an incorrigible kleptomaniac takes whatever is not bolted down, and some girl wants everyone to sign her yearbook.

If I'm not Mike's girlfriend, who am I? Nobody knows me as anything else. I don't even know me as anyone else.

Yes, "Can't Hardly Wait" is yet another flagrant attempt at capturing the discretionary income of the Baby Boom Echo, providing them an ample serving of their favorite well-scrubbed stars and insightful slice-o'-life moments that only a teen could appreciate. When "Can't Hardly Wait" was first out in the theaters last June, I wasn't too impressed by the trailer, as it seemed to be a pointless narrative exercise centering around a loud and uninteresting teen bash. Now, having seen "Can't Hardly Wait" on video, I see that my first instincts were right.

I was in all the smart classes, and my parents didn't make a lot of money, and you desperately needed to sit at the popular table in the lunchroom.

"Can't Hardly Wait" is certainly easy on the eyes, with some stylish editing, numerous made-for-MTV moments set to a happenin' soundtrack, and a cast of well-scrubbed teen stars. Unfortunately, when you look beyond the glamour and search for substance beneath the glittering style, there isn't much to speak of. Other than the Preston-Amanda story thread, "Can't Hardly Wait" is a whole lot about nothing. Many of the subplots are more like carelessly-inserted running gags, and end up being completely inconsequential. With numerous cliché-ridden caricatures involved in inconsequential events, there's little for the audience to become emotionally involved with. Even the Preston-Amanda plot is very thinly-developed, which is partially due to being watered-down by the useless subplots running amok (besides, more dialogue would probably have strained Love-Hewitt's acting muscles). Not even an uncredited cameo by Jenna Elfman ("Dharma and Greg") as an angelic sage can save "Can't Hardly Wait" from itself. Not surprisingly, the two people who wrote and directed this mess, Deborah Kaplan and Harry Elftont, were responsible for writing the less-than-inspiring "A Very Brady Sequel".

Well, you know what they say about women and trolley cars... there's a lot more of them in the sea.

So unless you're a big fan of Jennifer Love-Hewitt, or feel that watching people get drunk and make fools of themselves until they pass out is an intellectually-stimulating activity, you can't hardly wait for it to be over. It says very little, and when it does end up saying something profound, it was usually said better in a different film. But then again, it was nice to look at.

Fate works in really fucked up ways sometimes.
Especially in your case.

Images courtesy of Sony Pictures. All rights reserved.

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