Can’t Hardly Wait

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The film revolves around an eclectic group of students from Pennsylvania attending a high school graduation party at a large house owned by a rich class member’s family. Each character has different plans for the night. Preston Myers (Ethan Embry) plans to proclaim his love to his four-year secret crush, to whom he has never had the nerve to speak before, prom queen Amanda Beckett (Jennifer Love Hewitt), who has recently been dumped by her jock boyfriend, Mike Dexter (Peter Facinelli) who is targeted by nerd classmate William Lichter (Charlie Korsmo), who is plotting revenge against Mike for years of bullying.

Denise Fleming (Lauren Ambrose) has no intention of going to the party but is dragged along by Preston. Kenny Fisher (Seth Green) is a wigger who plans on losing his virginity by the end of the night. When he goes into the upstairs bathroom to “get ready”, Denise happens to walk in. After getting locked inside, the pair of former friends begin talking about how they drifted apart; their conversation eventually leads to the restoration of their friendship and then escalates into them having sex.

At the party, Amanda deals with being alternately consoled by the drunken girlfriends of Mike’s jock friends and her own cousin (who tries to hit on her) and tries to figure out if she truly has an identity beyond being known as “Mike Dexter’s girlfriend”. At one point, she discovers a letter addressed to her. Unbeknownst to her, the letter was written by Preston. After reading and being moved by its contents, she makes it her mission to find him.

Before the party, Mike convinces his fellow jock friends to follow his lead and dump their girlfriends to make a pact in which they all pledge to remain single as they go to college. Later on, an intoxicated Mike learns from a guy named Trip McNeely (Jerry O’Connell in a cameo) — a graduate and former stud from his high school — that in college, guys like them are “a dime a dozen”. This reality is even driven in further by the fact that Trip emphasizes how he dumped his girlfriend in the same fashion that Mike did to score with women which was unsuccessful. Terrified, Mike tries to get Amanda back, but she replies that she is happier without him and humiliates him in front of everyone at the party.

At the same time, William devises his plan to get revenge on Mike. He has his two even more nerdy, X-Files-obsessed friends wait on the roof, while he goes into the party to drive Mike out. However, while inside the party, William begins drinking alcohol to fit in. After a while, he drinks enough to make him forget what he was originally doing there and then an impromptu sing-along to Guns N’ Roses’ “Paradise City” causes him to become popular for the evening. William begins talking with Mike, and Mike apologizes for bullying him. William forgives him, and the two of them seemingly become friends. When Mike and William are jailed as a result of a police bust, Mike takes the blame, saying that he forced William into drinking. However, the next morning when William sees Mike and some of his friends at a local diner, he tries to thank Mike for taking the fall. But Mike acts as though he remembers nothing of what happened the previous night and proceeds to ridicule him in front of his friends. William, feeling the sting of betrayal, leaves dejected while Mike laughs with his friends.

Meanwhile, Preston eventually finds Amanda and confesses his love; however, she assumes he is another drunk pervert and rejects him. She later finds a yearbook, sees his picture, and realizes her mistake. She tries to find Preston again, but he has already driven home. The next morning, Preston is at a railway station, about to leave. Amanda visits Preston at the station and asks him about the letter. Preston confesses he wrote it and that he is about to depart for a pre-college writing workshop with Kurt Vonnegut. The two regretfully say their goodbyes; but soon after, Preston stops and runs back to Amanda, and they kiss.

As the film ends, the characters’ fates are revealed:
-Seven hours later, Preston finally got on a train to Boston. Amanda wrote him a letter for every day that he was away. They are still together.
-The day after the party, Denise and Kenny meet up in a diner; five minutes later, Denise dumped Kenny. Ten minutes later, they found a bathroom and got back together.
-Mike went on to college but, after drinking too much, lost his football scholarship. He ended up forty pounds overweight and working at the car wash, a job he lost when incriminating Polaroids surfaced.
-William became one of the most popular students at Harvard. He went on to form his own computer company that has made him worth millions, and he is dating a supermodel.
-William’s two nerdy friends were abducted by aliens after discussing that they did not miss anything by not attending the party

REVIEW:

Remember graduating high school and then going off to get drunk at this huge party at someone’s house where you were sure to confront the bully and tell the girl of your dreams your true feeling for her? Yeah, me neither, but that’s why we have films like Can’t Hardly Wait.

What is this about?

At a wild party, newly minted high school graduates celebrate and ponder the future — including love-struck dork Preston Meyers, who tries to work up the courage to act on his feelings for beautiful prom queen Amanda Beckett.

What did I like?

Relatable. Often in films like this, the characters are so unrelatable that the audience just turns into mindless zombies watching a flick, rather than engaging in the story (or lack thereof). Seriously, how many of us are rich socialites living in Beverly Hills (as an example)? Now, a somewhat geeky guy who had a crush on a girl who never gave him the time of day, had a girl for a best friend, and was known by all the classmates, but not popular is a character I can really relate to. Make him a band geek and that pretty much was me in high school. I’m sure other people will relate to the other characters, no matter who they are.

Names. Some of the characters don’t necessarily get named, but I just watched the credits and saw names like “Ready to Have Sex Girl”, “Reminiscing Guy”, “Girl Whose House It Is”, “Yearbook Girl”, etc. I got a little chuckle out of this, because it just goes to show that this is not a film to be taken too seriously. It is basically a teen movie, after all (even if the case is almost all in their late 20s and 30s).

Soundtrack. The songs selected for use on the soundtrack and that play during the film really capture the spirit of the times. This is from 1998, if I’m not mistaken. If you can recall, that was when bands like Smash Mouth, Eve 6, Third Eye Blind, and the like were populating the airwaves. The soundtrack reflects that, as well as throwing in some classics from Run D.M.C., Parliament, Young M.C., Guns ‘N Roses, Nazareth, etc.

What didn’t I like?

Pretty face. I can look at Jennifer Love Hewitt all day. You can’t deny that the girl is gorgeous. However, when she actually starts to spout lines, she comes off almost as wooded as Carrie Underwood did in that abomination, The Sound of Music Live! It gave me cause to pause and ponder this thought…She is a pretty big star, but what has she really done to warrant that? Aside from a couple of films and Party of Five, everything she’s been in has been mediocre, at best, or limited, independent release. I guess a pretty face and a nice pair of breasts go a long way.

Too many? Although the film centers on Ethan Embry’s character and his attempt to finally woo Jennifer Love Hewitt’s character, I wouldn’t necessarily say they were the stars, as there are many different story arcs that are being covered. Each one as interesting as the other, much like Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Still, I wonder if perhaps this was too many. Should the film have picked 2 or 3 primary storylines to focus on and then have them all converge at the end? I wonder…

Cops. So, as with every teen party flick, the cops come to break things up. I realize that it is their job to do so and the filmmakers needed to show this so that teenagers don’t get ideas, but there comes a point when you just get tired of seeing the same things happen over and over again. With the way Girl Whose Party It Is, or whatever her name was, was acting, I was expecting her parents to come home early. Now, that would have been more interesting than the, pardon the pun, cop out.

I can’t help but be astonished by the amount of stars that have gone to bigger and better things that were in Can’t Hardly Wait. I wonder what film like this now will be the launching pad for many careers. As far as what I think of this film, it is decent enough for  repeat viewings, but nothing to write home about. The nostalgia factor outweighs its mediocrity. So, with that, I recommend it, but proceed with caution.

3 1/3 out of 5 stars

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