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Can't Hardly Wait

Can't Hardly Wait
1998's Can't Hardly Wait is a semi-raunchy, sporadically funny teen comedy that borrows inspiration from teen comedies of the past and provided inspiration for teen comedies of the future, but ultimately is an uneven movie experience.

The canvas for this comedy is a graduation party where several separate stories unfold. The primary one being the breakup between star jock Mike (Peter Facinelli) and girlfriend Amanda (Jennifer Love Hewitt), who has been the secret object of lust for Preston Meyers (Ethan Embry). Nerdy William Lichter (Charlie Korsmo) has an elaborate plan of revenge against Mike, who shamed him in front of the entire student body; and a ditzy girl (Melissa Joan Hart) who seems to have come to the party for the sole purpose of having everyone sign her yearbook.

Co-directors and screenwriters Harry Elfont and Deborah Kaplan have affectionately captured different kinds of teen angst but the society of cliques that make up every high school and provided a teenage soap opera that often substitutes raunch for genuine comedy, a lot of scenes going on a lot longer than they should and a lot of them stretching credibility to the nth degree. The story of Mike and Amanda is hard to stay with because Amanda comes off as an icy bitch; the deconstruction of William's revenge plan against Mike reminds me of Farmer and Ted in Sixteen Candles and about halfway through the film, we just want to strangle yearbook girl. The only story that sustained interest for this reviewer was when a brainy but vivacious girl named Denise (Lauren Ambrose) gets locked in a bathroom with her childhood BFF (Seth Green),, who seems to think he's black.

The film starts off strong setting up the varied relationships, but the individual stories become less and less interesting as the film progresses. There's a whole lot of attention paid to Amanda's arrival at the party, where the party guests part like the Red Sea and the camera zooms in on her while a wind machine gently blows her hair. This scene is perfectly recreated in the teen movie satire Not Another Teen Movie. And William's transition from nerd to rock idol because he lip syncs to a song is hard to swallow and goes on way too long.

A lot of familiar faces pop up along the way here including Jaime Pressly, Sean Patrick Thomas, Freddy Rodriguez, Jenna Elfmann, Donald Faison, Breckin Meyer, and Chris Owen, who found screen immortality the following year playing the Sherminator in American Pie, but this is passable entertainment, not much more.