Can't Hardly Wait (1998) starring Jennifer Love Hewitt, Ethan Embry, Charlie Korsmo, Lauren Ambrose, Peter Facinelli, Seth Green directed by Harry Elfont, Deborah Kaplan Movie Review

Can't Hardly Wait (1998)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Seth Green as Kenny Fisher in Can't Hardly Wait

The Graduation Club

A year before "American Pie" reinvigorated the teen comedy genre "Can't Hardly Wait" rocked up to give us another look at teen life. But "Can't Hardly Wait" feels more like it's trying to be "The Breakfast Club" for a new generation as we watch a group of characters who in the course of a graduation party grow as they learn about themselves. Except that "Can't Hardly Wait" is no "The Breakfast Club" it doesn't have the depth when it comes to character development and to be honest whilst we a varied bunch of protagonists from the arrogant school stud through to the geek we don't really have anything more than cliche characters. As such "Can't Hardly Wait" ends up more like a comedy about a graduation party where there is sex, drinking, embarrassment and a matter of true love all of which is kind of fun but not brilliant.

With the seniors of Huntington Hills High School having graduated they are all heading of for a graduation party at a students house. Preston Meyers (Ethan Embry) who having fancied Amanda Beckett (Jennifer Love Hewitt) from a far spots his opportunity to finally tell her how he feels as her sporting jock boyfriend Mike (Peter Facinelli) has dumped her. Whilst school geek William Lichter (Charlie Korsmo) plans to make Mike's life hell as after 4 years of being picked on is looking for revenge. And then there is Kenny Fisher (Seth Green) who is desperate to lose his virginity whilst also looking cool whilst really being a bit of a jerk. As the night unfolds things don't necessarily work out how any of them hoped for including Preston's friend Denise (Lauren Ambrose) who didn't want to go to the party in the first place.

Lauren Ambrose and Ethan Embry in Can't Hardly Wait

So as already mentioned "Can't Hardly Wait" feels like it wants to be "The Breakfast Club" for a new generation as we have a small group of diverse characters which all fit into a high school cliche. We have the sporting jock, the beauty, the misfit, the geek, the loser in love and the one who is desperately trying to be cool but acts the jerk and instead of it being set in a Saturday detention pretty much everything happens during a graduation party. But whilst similar in set up there is very little depth to "Can't Hardly Wait" as these characters may learn something about themselves during the course of the party they don't really grow or change.

As such "Can't Hardly Wait" ends up coming across like a series of cliche teen comedy scenes where the geek gets drunk, becomes popular and makes friends with his enemy only for it all to go back to how it was the next day. It almost lacks imagination as it delivers these various moments of comedy but then fails to develop the characters and their relationships leaving you wanting something more. Don't get me wrong as the comedy is good fun from Kenny Fisher trying to act cool but ending up a jerk through to the self centred Mike Dexter ending up girl-less when his plans fail to work out. And whilst seriously over the top watching William Lichter the geek get drunk and belt out a Guns n Roses song is still funny to think about but there is little more even when it comes to the loser in love plucking up courage to speak to the girl he has held a candle for for years.

What feels strange is that at times "Can't Hardly Wait" almost feels like it is trying to spoof the teen comedies of the 80s with characters being so generic. Take school hunk Mike Dexter played by Peter Facinelli, not only is this your grade A generic arrogant sporting jock who all the girls fancy but Facinelli looks and acts frighteningly similar to Tom Cruise. Lauren Ambrose has a similar issue when it comes to loner Denise Fleming as she has this mix of Molly Ringwald and Ally Sheedy going on. And to be honest I could go on because all of the main characters from Ethan Embry playing loser in love Preston Meyers through to Jennifer Love Hewitt who plays school beauty Amanda Beckett all feel like one 80s character or another. The exceptions come from Seth Green who plays jerk Kenny Fisher and Charlie Kosmo who plays geek William Lichter because these are two seriously over the top and strangely entertaining characters.

Although I am sure at the time this wasn't then intention there is some fun to be had from watching "Can't Hardly Wait" as there are so many recognizable faces in minor parts. It brings a smile to your face when you spot Donald Faison, Chris Owen, Jason Segel or Melissa Joan Hart and there are plenty more who are lurking in the shadows in minor roles.

What this all boils down to is that "Can't Hardly Wait" almost seems to be confused as to what it wants to be because the set up has a similarity to "The Breakfast Club" with a group of characters who we expect to grow and change yet what is delivered is almost a generic teen comedy where people get drunk, have sex and fall in ove during the space of a few hours at a graduation party. It feels like a missed opportunity and as such whilst fun at the time isn't a movie which is going to fill you with a lot of memories.