“Don't look back. You should never look back.”
There is a scene during the movie where someone spray painted “This Party Sucked” on the door, and I guess that the same thing can be said about this predictable and formulaic teen comedy that tries way too hard to capture the spirit of former John Hughes’ comedies from the 80’s. Perhaps it is my fault that I just got around watching this film now, but if that is the case all I can say is that it hasn’t aged well considering many films since have done a much better job at delivering laughs and breaking genre conventions. Can’t Hardly Wait is completely predictable from start to finish and the characters all fall flat despite some charismatic performances from the cast. The script may be the biggest disappointment because the characters aren’t given anything interesting to say and they all play generic characters. This was Harry Elfont and Deborah Kaplan’s first feature film as directors, and they only went on to direct one other movie together (Josie and the Pussycats). Can’t Hardly Wait was received quite well in the late 90’s, but I can’t see its appeal. It feels like a generic teen comedy about teenagers partying after graduation. They all promise to be memorable, but in the end everything that goes on in the party is completely predictable. There are fun moments, but the film never justifies it 100 minute runtime.
Jennifer Love Hewitt plays the girl everyone in school loves and admires, but she has recently been dumped by her boyfriend, played by Peter Facinelli, who wants to move on and meet college girls now. Their breakup is the talk of the school, and Ethan Embry’s Preston believes fate has given him another shot to talk to the girl of his dreams. Preston has always been in love with Amanda (Hewitt), but she doesn’t even know of his existence. We find out about his secret crush for Amanda through his best friend, Denise (Lauren Ambrose), who he confides in. Other people we meet at the party are the classic characters we’ve seen in many other 80’s and 90’s teen comedies: some of the hot shot athletes who are best friends with Mike (Facinelli), their gorgeous girlfriends who are part of Amanda’s group, the rockstar wannabes, and the nerds who want to avenge all the years of bullying they’ve endured. Charlie Korsmo gives one of the most funny performances as this nerd who after drinking a bit too much becomes the sensation of the party. There is also a side plot involving Denise getting locked up in the bathroom with Kenny Fisher (Seth Green), someone who she shared a past with but hasn’t been in contact since. Locked up together in the bathroom seems like a good way to dig up the past and they both open up with each other. The side stories and secondary characters are actually more interesting than the actual main plot involving Hewitt and Embry’s relationship and that is what ultimately hurt the film for me.