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(1998) (Ethan Embry, Jennifer Love Hewitt) (PG-13)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
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Smoking Tense Family
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Drama/Comedy: A diverse group of students celebrates their graduation from high school at a party that soon turns into a great social equalizer.
After graduating from high school, a diverse group of students celebrates at a massive, blowout party. Among those attending is Preston Meyers (ETHAN EMBRY), an aspiring writer who's been infatuated with Amanda Beckett (JENNIFER LOVE HEWITT), the prettiest and most popular girl in school, since their freshmen year. It's his lucky day since Amanda's super jock boyfriend, Mike Dexter (PETER FACINELLI), has just dumped her so that he can pursue his unrealistic fantasies about college women.

Preston's close but reserved friend, Denise Fleming (LAUREN AMBROSE), can't believe he's never confronted Amanda with his feelings and encourages him to give her a letter, four years in the making, that expresses his feelings. Meanwhile, Denise as her own problems as she finds herself locked in a bathroom with her ex-childhood friend, Kenny Fisher (SETH GREEN), who dresses, acts, and talks like a "homeboy," much to her irritation.

Also attending the party is William Lichter (CHARLIE KORSMO), an honor roll geek who wishes to get final revenge on Mike for years of social torment, as well as many other students with their own personal dilemmas. As the evening wears on and the party becomes a social equalizer, Amanda must deal with everyone's reaction to her breakup, while Preston tries to get up the nerve to finally talk to her before leaving town the next day.

The odds are good that many teens (and some preteens) will want to see this film.
For teen drinking and sexuality, and for language.
  • JENNIFER LOVE HEWITT plays the most popular girl in school who spends most of the night sulking or lashing out at people due to her boyfriend dumping her that day.
  • ETHAN EMBRY plays an unassuming guy who hopes to finally tell Amanda how he feels about her after four years of being infatuated.
  • CHARLIE KORSMO plays an honor roll geek who sets out to publically humiliate Mike for years of social torment. Instead, he gets drunk and becomes the hit of the party.
  • LAUREN AMBROSE plays a self-conscious girl who ends up having sex with a guy (an ex- childhood friend) on the bathroom floor.
  • PETER FACINELLI plays the muscle bound, popular jock who dumps Amanda in favor of what he hopes will be wild times with college women. He acts like a jerk throughout the movie and gets drunk.
  • SETH GREEN plays a white student who dresses, acts, and behaves like a black "homeboy" who ends up having sex with Denise on the bathroom floor.


    OUR TAKE: 3 out of 10
    With the phenomenal success of the "Scream" movies and the growing number of teens who made them so popular, it's not surprising that a heavy barrage of teen-oriented flicks is headed for the theaters. The first not to fall into the slasher genre, "Can't Hardly Wait" is reminiscent of the films writer/director John Hughes popularized in the 1980's such as "The Breakfast Club," "Sixteen Candles," and many others. Like those films, this one focuses on a short period of time in the lives of several high school students.

    Although it has the requisite and diversified teenage cast, it completely lacks what made another similarly based movie, "American Graffiti," so great, and doesn't even posses the simple charm that the Hughes films constantly oozed. While that feeling may be partially fueled by being further removed from the age when it was easier to enjoy Molly Ringwald and the "Brat Pack" ruling the teen genre, I doubt this film will be looked back upon as fondly or that it will play beyond its targeted audience.

    Of course, I'm sure the filmmakers aren't too worried about that. Like those Hughes films, this one has similar character types and a near identical formulaic consistency. Among those attending the big bash is a diverse collection of stereotypically exaggerated high school students. We have the geek and his buddies (filling the void left by Anthony Michael Hall) and the athletic and popular, but snobbishly meanspirited jock (played by any number of chiseled, musclebound teens).

    Then there's the beautiful prom queen (any assortment of no name actresses) and, of course, the introverted, homely teen who's disgusted with her high school years (the Molly Ringwald part). Added to that are several white students who dress, speak, and act like "homeboys," the always peppy and bouncing young woman everyone hates, the foreign exchange student, and -- well, you get the idea.

    Unfortunately, the writing and directing team of Deborah Kaplan and Harry Elfont (making their dual directing debut after writing for films such as "A Very Brady Sequel" and "Jingle All The Way"), have made most of the characters flat, uninteresting and for the most part non-humorous caricatures. The same can also be said about the plot and dialogue, although at least Kaplan and Elfton finally slow down the tempo in the second half in an attempt to feature the would-be romance between Preston and Amanda.

    While that partially works, the biggest problem is that there's no heart or soul to the characters or the picture itself. Sure, Preston gets his feelings hurt and Amanda roams around the party moping, but this movie is like attending a party where you don't know anyone. You can watch in mild amusement at the characters' antics, but one never gets involved like we do in movies such as "American Graffiti" or "Say Anything" (with John Cusack).

    Despite some attempts at being heartfelt with Jenna Elfman (showing up in an odd cameo) giving Preston seasoned advice in a rare non-party setting, for the most part this is a superficial, near plot-less film dealing with supped up, but ultimately cardboard characters. We never really know their hopes or dreams (beyond the immediate and obvious) and thus have a hard time sympathizing with any of the characters.

    Of course, many teens aren't going to care squat about that, and will probably find the proceedings highly entertaining, and the film can't be faulted for not having enough energy. If you're not going to delve deeply into the characters, though, then the antics had better be revved up. Again, however, the film falls short of other teen comedies such as "Fast Times At Ridgemont High" or "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" that are fun because of the wacky characters and situations.

    The performances, for the most part, are okay for what's being attempted. Jennifer Love Hewitt ("I Know What You Did Last Summer," TV's "Party of Five"), only gets to let her natural radiance shine forth a few times as she's otherwise relegated to moping around the party or lashing out at the guys who approach her.

    Ethan Embry ("White Squall," "That Thing You Do!") is good as the amorously frustrated teen, but his character never gets developed far enough to make him anything more than the standard- issue "normal" high school male. Lauren Ambrose ("In & Out"), on the other hand, does get to work somewhat with her disgruntled character and delivers the best performance in the film (in true Molly Ringwald fashion). Most of the rest of the performers, however, inhabit the regular array of stereotypical high school teen caricatures

    The ever pervasive soundtrack features an extremely odd and eclectic compilation of hits from several decades. While it's understandable that a lot of music would play during a party, the collection of tunes from the likes of Barry Manilow (do teens even know who he is?), 80's rap/hip hop artists Young Mc and Tone Loc, old power groups like Foreigner, and more current artists seems more like an attempt to promote the soundtrack than have a realistic, contemporary party mix.

    With enough topical references to please the teens -- William's geeky friends comment that in a certain light he looks like David Duchovny, Amanda's girlfriends compare her and Mike to Brad Pitt and Gwyneth Paltrow -- and some odds ones apparently designed for the thirtysomething and older crowd -- the Manilow songs and Jenna Elfman's character going on about having been in love with Scott "Happy Days" Baio -- the film tries to be hip, but the efforts aren't too impressive. Even so, the film will probably entertain the teens, but it's just too bad that it's not much more than the "same old, same old." We give "Can't Hardly Wait" a 3 out of 10.

    Many of the high school students drink beer and other forms of liquor through the movie at a non-chaperoned party, and two of the main characters are quite drunk. Profanity is heavy with 1 "f" word and a wide assortment of other such words and phrases. Two of the characters have sex on a bathroom floor (we only see the "preparations"), and there's a fair amount of sexually related discussions. Beyond that, there's a host of bad attitudes and the film does present exaggerated caricatures of high school students hoping to be funny. Since many teens will probably want to see this film, we suggest that you take a look through the content before allowing them to do so.

  • Throughout the party we see many teens drinking beer and other alcohol.
  • William has his first beer at the party and then proceeds to get very drunk throughout the night. Later, he happily exclaims that he can't feel his legs and the crowd cheers.
  • Mike and a former graduate drink beer outside the party, and later Mike is drunk.
  • We later see William and Mike drinking what appears to be brandy and they're even more drunk.
  • Although neither bloody nor gory, we do hear Kenny peeing in a toilet.
  • Overall, Mike has both toward nearly everyone as he thinks he's superior to them. Likewise, he has both for dumping Amanda so that he can pursue his fantasy of being with college women, and he tries to convince his buddies to dump their girlfriends.
  • Some unknown students deface a family portrait in the house by drawing breasts on the mother and writing the comment, "I like boys" next to the father.
  • Hearing that Amanda is no longer dating Mike, many guys try to hit on her, including her cousin (through marriage) who forcibly kisses her.
  • An older woman hangs up Preston's telephone call because she wants to use the phone.
  • None.
  • None.
  • Phrases: "Boner" (for an erection), "Nigger" (said once by Kenny trying to act friendly toward several African American students), "Lame ass," "Sucks(s)," "Kiss my ass," "Bitch" (said toward girls and guys), "Honeys," "Ho's (whores), and "Chicks" (about women), "Fag," "Screwing up," "Bitchy," "Ass wipe," "Balls" and "Nuts" (testicles), "You guys suck," "Freakin'," "Skanky," "Loser," "Geez," "Screw that," "Geek," and "Shut up."
  • Throughout the party, many high school students drink alcohol and end up trashing the house.
  • We hear, but don't see that a male student is naked under his graduation gown.
  • Mike loudly belches as does a former student later in the story.
  • Kenny and his other white friends dress, talk and behave like stereotypical black "homeboys."
  • An unidentified student is a kleptomaniac and continually steals/shoplifts things throughout the movie, including stealing a police car.
  • We hear some guys mention that they're going to pee in the pool because the line to the bathroom is too long.
  • A guy licks a brownie (that accidentally landed on her) from Denise's face.
  • Although we don't see it, a girl flashes her breasts at William.
  • Mike gives "the finger" to two of his buddies who don't go along with his plan.
  • William's geeky friends jump from the roof onto him and Mike and knock them out with some homemade chloroform.
  • The students flee when the police arrive at the party.
  • None.
  • None.
  • One song contains the lyrics "I'll make love to you, like you want me to..."
  • The soundtrack also contains several rap songs that may contain objectionable lyrics, but we didn't hear/couldn't understand them.
  • At least 1 "f" word, 6 "s" words, 18 asses (8 using "hole"), 11 hells, 7 damns, 2 craps, and 10 uses of "Oh my God," 9 of "Oh God," 5 of "God," and 1 use each of "G-damn" and "Jesus" as exclamations.
  • A student opens her gown and displays some cleavage as we see her in a bikini top.
  • Talking about why he dumped Amanda in favor of next year's college women, Mike states that they are "women with no curfew...women on the pill..."
  • One of William's geeky friends asks if there will be girls at the party and another answers, "Are you kidding? There will be people having sex there..."
  • Kenny tells his "homeys" that he has to have sex tonight at the party and has narrowed his list down to ten women. He then comments that a certain percentage of college women are sexually active and then shows his "homeys" the contents of his backpack that include many condoms, whipped cream and other sexually related paraphernalia.
  • Some students teach a foreign exchange student to say, "I am a sex machine" and "Would you like to touch my penis?" (that's repeated later in the movie).
  • Amanda wears a tightfitting, low-cut outfit that shows some of her ample cleavage. One of her friends also shows some cleavage.
  • We see various shots of couples making out while standing up or laying down on couches or stairwells, etc...
  • One of Mike's friends doesn't want to break up with his girlfriend because he states that her parents are gone for the weekend and they have mirrors above their bed (and he does some exaggerated sexual movement as if watching himself in a mirror).
  • After stating that her boyfriend slept with a sophomore, a student states that she's going to "hook up with someone" at the party and have sex.
  • After hearing the above and getting the acknowledgment that he'll be the one, Kenny races upstairs and unpacks his "love kit." He states that he'll probably need two condoms ("double bang it") and then gets out his "Kama Sutra" book and tries to get himself (by himself) into the positions (with some clothed pelvic thrusting) shown in the book (that we don't see).
  • Some unknown students deface a family portrait in the house by drawing breasts on the mother and writing the comment, "I like boys" next to the father.
  • A clothed couple does some "dirty dancing" where the girl's thigh is up against the guy's waist and they're grinding away, pelvis to pelvis.
  • An older woman, dressed as an angel for a strip performance (that we don't see) shows some cleavage.
  • Although we don't see it, a girl flashes her breasts at William. Another girl then gestures to a third about the size of William's genitals (by holding her hands apart suggesting size).
  • Denise tells Kenny that in the past she called him a "philiac" name that meant he liked to have sex with trees.
  • A former graduate tells Mike that he thought college was going to be "...a 24/7 orgy..."
  • Some guys separately approach Amanda. One asks if he can see her naked, another asks if she wants to go back to his van, and another comments about having a "huge boner" when they met before. Later, when Preston approaches her, she thinks he's going to ask the same and responds by asking if he thought she was going to "strip off my clothes and do you?"
  • Denise and Kenny make out on the bathroom floor (with some of their clothes taken off and we see some of her cleavage as she's wearing just a bra up top). She asks him if he's done this before and he says that he hasn't and asks if she has. She states that she did it once with a guy, but Kenny stops her from explaining more. It's implied that they then have sex. Afterwards, she tells him that "It gets better...You know next time...It can go longer..."
  • After knocking them out with homemade chloroform, William's geeky friends partially undress him and Mike (to their underwear) and take incriminating photos of them.
  • A few of the band members have cigarettes (one that temporarily ignites some curtains).
  • An older woman smokes.
  • None.
  • Teenage drinking and high school parties without any parental supervision.
  • Approached by a bubbly student wanting him to sign her yearbook, Mike knocks her aside. Later, he grabs a student and asks if he's seen Amanda. When the guy says that he hasn't, Mike throws him aside.
  • William's geeky friends jump from the roof onto him and Mike and knock them out with some homemade chloroform.

  • Reviewed June 8, 1998

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