Its high school graduation, and like all seniors they want to party. So 500 high school seniors look forward to a party, while in the meantime a boy wants to get a girl he's loved for years that just broke up with her boyfriend and one head-case that wants revenge on a lifelong bully. So the party comes, things develop. People have sex, drink, and go along with most of the guidelines of a high school graduation party.
The last day of high school, the last party of the year, and the last chance to make it memorable.
On the surface, Can’t Hardly Wait is a familiar, end-of-senior-year-so-let’s-party film. All the clichés are there; the jock, the anti-social girl, the geek, the wigger, the prom queen, and the uber-sweet nice guy. However, the superb cast turns this film from typical teen flick to an exuberant homage to high school and all of its various cliques and stereotypes.
The multi-story plotline goes a little bit like this (go ahead and breathe in here): Preston likes Amanda, the most-popular girl in the school who just got dumped by her jock boyfriend Mike, who is the object of scorn for the geeky William who vows to embarrass him at the last party of the school year, where in the upstairs bathroom the anti-social Denise and the dopey wigger Kenny are trapped (okay, breathe out).
The cast is a young who’s-who of Hollywood: Jennifer Love-Hewitt, Lauren Ambrose, Seth Green, Breckin Meyer, Jaime Pressly, Donald Faison, even Jason Segel makes an appearance in the film. Each actor takes their stereotypical character and adds dimension to the role, turning them into likeable teens that probably resemble the people you knew in high school, no matter what group you were in. Only Embry’s portrayal of the lovesick Preston seems contrived and off-tempo in the film. Although Preston is supposed to be the genuine, good guy, Embry takes sweetness too far, turning Preston into a pathetic, nice-guy that no girl would really want to date.
Former child-actor Charlie Korsmo (remember the red-headed “Kid” in Dick Tracy) brings the geeky William alive. William transforms from King of the Geeks to King of the Party with a little confidence and a lot of beer. One of the highlights of the film is when William takes over the party stage and performs the Guns and Roses classic “Paradise City.” The hilarious scene almost surpasses Jon Cryer’s rendition of Otis Redding’s “Try a Little Tenderness” in Pretty in Pink. Almost.
The film was the first directorial debut for the writing team of Harry Elfont and Deborah Kaplan. The two have also written the bomb Josie and the Pussycats and this year’s romantic comedy Made of Honor. The writing and directing fit well for the film; the character’s speak appropriately for their age and the directing embraces the life of the party, catching small details that set the film apart from others in the genre. There’s the band that never plays a note at the party, yet breaks up and gets back together again; The geeky couple trapped in the bathroom singing the classic New Kids On The Block hit “The Right Stuff,” even the soundtrack of 90’s rock songs keep the film feeling fresh and creative.
Overall, the acting, writing, and directing of the film creates a nostalgic piece of filmmaking that let’s you feel like you’re reliving one more night of high school.