If I had to list five of the quintessential nineties movies that basically defined the decade, “Can’t Hardly Wait” would be on the list. It’s not just a party movie, but a movie that takes every single element of the nineties and stacks it together in to a ninety minute teen comedy. “Can’t Hardly Wait” is a movie I’ve had a long history of loving and hating. I spent my teen years watching this movie on cable at least thirty times, then grew to loathe it, and then many years later, I’ve kind of grown fond of it, and its simplistic yet grand premise. It’s not a funny movie, but it’s one that’s recommended if you want to check out what the decade looked like without artifice–*cough*EmpireRecords*cough*.
Progressing over the course of a night, a graduating high school class has shown up to the house of a wealthy classmate for the party of the century. Following a plethora of large central plots and smaller side plots, we meet Preston, as played by Ethan Embry, who hopes to make one final declaration of love for his high school crush and dream girl Amanda (Jennifer Love Hewitt), whose boyfriend Mike has broken up with her for the sake of being available to college women. Meanwhile geek William (Charlie Korsmo) is planning one final payback for jock Mike (Peter Facinelli), who has tormented him his entire time in high school, while wannabe rapper Kenny (Seth Green) is locked in a bathroom with sarcastic Denise (Lauren Ambrose), and the two begin to form a connection.
“Can’t Hardly Wait” has become a huge cult classic since its release in 1998 and much like contemporaries like “American Graffiti” and “Dazed and Confused,” it takes the formula of a real time unfolding of events and draws some decent gaffs here and there. The performances are for the most part engaging, including Ethan Embry, who jumps from one nineties cult classic (“Empire Records”) right in to another. Lauren Ambrose is also a lot of fun as the romantic interest who is against type of someone like Jennifer Love Hewitt, but still manages to garner her own appeal, in the end. Ambrose’s wry humor and wit make up a lot of her scene stealing performance. Seth Green jumps in to the role as quintessential nineties wannabe white rapper. Fans of the decade might get a kick out of spotting a lot of up and comers, many of whom only appear for a scene or two.
Look for Sean Patrick Thomas, Freddy Rodriguez, Donald Faison (Another co-star of a quintessential nineties comedy), Jaime Pressly, Marisol Nichols (Riverdale), Jason Segel (Forgetting Sarah Marshall), Clea DuVall, Eric Balfour, Selma Blair, Jenna Elfman, Melissa Joan Hart, Breckin Meyer, Jerry O’Connell, and even Liv Tyler. Surely “Can’t Hardly Wait” is mostly a party movie about the last night before the beginning of these character’s lives begin, but the tonal change is more awkward than natural, especially in the end where we learn the fates of the characters, another moment that feels more saccharine than humorous. “Can’t Hardly Wait” is not even second rate John Hughes, but as a time capsule with some occasional laughs, and Jennifer Love Hewitt at her prime when she was the late nineties heartthrob, it’ll serve as a fun antidote to boredom.
A lot of the features for this new release are carried over from the ten year anniversary edition. There is a commentary with the filmmakers and cast crew featuring writers/directors Deborah Kaplan & Harry Elfont and Seth Green. There’s the filmmaker and cast commentary, ten years late with Kaplan and Elfont, along with cast members Seth Green, Peter Facinelli, Donald Faison and Joel McMichaely. There’s a six minute deleted scene, along with “Huntington Hills High Class of ’98 Reunion” clocking in at twenty six minutes.
It features people like Ethan Embry, Peter Facinelli, Seth Green, Freddy Rodriguez , Michelle Brookhurst, Joel Michaely, Jay Paulson, Donald Faison, Tamala Jones, Jennifer Lyons, Victor Togunde, Nicole Bilderback, and Jenna Elfman. Missing are Hewitt, and Lauren Ambrose. “Can’t Hardly Wait: The Making of a Teen Classic” is a fifteen minute reminiscing of making the movie with the aforementioned cast members. There’s “Life of The Party,” a nine minute talk with the same cast members, all of whom discuss their own party experiences in high school. Finally there’s the music video for the film “Can’t Get Enough Of You Baby” from Smashmouth.