"Can't Hardly Wait" was just another teen flick when it arrived in theatres in 1998, but the film has gained a cult following in the years since. Watching the film again 10 years later, the reasons are clear: it's funny in its own loopy way, it functions as a good look back at the '90's and, unlike most teen comedies in the last 10-15 years, it actually has moments that are genuinely sweet and charming. While the film certainly doesn't compare to the teen films of the '80's, it's a nice choice if one had to pick a '90's teen comedy to include in a time capsule.
The film follows Preston (Ethan Embry), a rather geeky high school senior who has been following after Amanda Beckett (Jennifer Love Hewitt) throughout their years at Huntington High. However, while he's been following her, she really has very little idea that he exists. Still, Preston manages to hold on to some hope, given that Amanda has just broken up with her jock boyfriend and will be at the big party that night - perfect time for Preston to give her a letter he's written to her. He's accompanied by pal Denise (Lauren Ambrose), who doesn't want to go, but also doesn't want to see her friend get over his head in trying to deliver his letter.
Meanwhile - and there's a lot of meanwhiles - Kenny (Seth Green), a wannabe rapper (and Green's hysterical performance manages to be over-the-top ridiculous without becoming too cartoonish) is headed to the party with a goal to score - if he can find a girl who sees through his ridiculous persona. There's also William (Charlie Korsmo), who wants revenge on Mike (Peter Facinelli), Amanda's ex. Mike, meanwhile, wants his friends to dump their girlfriends too, so that they can spend more time hanging out.
The film also manages to weave in a ton of minor characters - such as Michelle (Michelle Brookhurst), who spends most of the movie scolding partygoers for wrecking her house. There's also yearbook girl (Melissa Joan Hart), who pesters everyone to sign her yearbook. These are slight characters, but the performances make enough of an impression and the sheer number of smaller roles make this feel more like an actual chaotic, end-of-school house party than a teen comedy with a bunch of interchangeable extras. There's even a few background characters that turn up at various points in the movie, and serve as the film's "Where's Waldo?"-style running jokes. The one performance that left me a little cold was Hewitt's, as she's the generic dream girl in a film full of rather quirky personalities, and the character seems bland.
Overall, "Can't Hardly Wait" is a guilty pleasure. The picture manages to zip between a lot of different characters and subplots with ease, and - while certainly not without flaws - the picture remains consistently energetic, enjoyably goofy and the characters are mostly likable.
VIDEO: "Can't Hardly Wait" is presented by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment in 1.85:1 (1080p/AVC). The picture is a low-budget teen comedy, and has certainly never looked sleek by any means. The Blu-Ray is certainly an upgrade over the original DVD release, as while some scenes still look a tad soft, sharpness and detail overall see a nice improvement this time around. The picture has always had a mildly grainy appearance, but grain is handled well this time around. As for faults, there are a couple of hints of edge enhancement, but no other concerns are seen. The film's somewhat pumped-up color palette looks well-saturated and bright here, appearing richer and more precise this time around, with no smearing or other concerns seen. Tons of subtitle options are included: English, English SDH, French, Idonesian, Korean, Thai, Spanish, Chinese and Portuguese.
SOUND: The film is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 on this release. While the film's sound design is not demo-worthy, it does go a step beyond the usual teen comedy once the party scenes get going, as the rear speakers chime in with a good helping of crowd chatter, various sounds and more. Audio quality is fine, with crisp dialogue and full, bassy tunes.
EXTRAS: Commentary: This is a commentary from actor Seth Green, directors Deborah Kaplan & Harry Elfont and producer Jenno Topping. It's one of the more hilarious group commentaries out there, with the only problem being that Green decides that it would be a funny bit to use a British accent for much of the early portion of the discussion; it's not funny, and the rest of the group finally gets him to stop.
It's not particularly the most technical commentary, but it's a lot of fun to listen to the two rookie directors talking about their first experience on the film. Early on, they talk about being depressed after seeing their first dailies - throughout, they point out various little flaws and items that were cut out of the film for various reasons. They reveal that they had to go for a PG-13 rating, and it seems that many moments of the film (some of which are visible in the trailer) had to be lost.
There's many great moments throughout the track - during Love Hewitt's first appearance, Green remarks, "wasn't she in 'House Arrest'"? Later on, Green's work schedule is compared to Hewitt's during the production, and when hers seems tougher than his he snaps, "...and I was pregnant!". Eventually, producer (and director of films like "28 Days") Betty Thomas appears on the track. This is the commentary from the original release.
The new edition includes a reunion commentary, where Elfont, Topping, Green and actors Donald Faison, Joel Michaely and Peter Facinelli. look back and crack jokes about the production. We also find out more about the cast/casting, working with the two relatively inexperienced directors, some elements of the film that ended up on the editing room floor and much more. This is largely a chance for the group to get back together and have some laughs and a good time chatting about memories, but there's also a few decent production insights, too.
Three new featurettes (presented in HD) also see the cast and crew getting back together to chat about the making of the movie - these include "Can't Hardly Wait: The Making of a Teen Classic", "The Life of the Party" and "Classic Reunion". The documentaries (which last for a little over 45 minutes in all) are better than the usual promotional pieces, as they provide some very entertaining interviews with cast and crew, who chat about stories from the set. I have to wonder how many of them believed that they would be interviewed about the film 10 years later. We also get deleted scenes (although there is quite a bit of deleted footage from the film that has been discussed that doesn't show up here), a subtitle text track, trivia game and "I Can't Get Enough Of You, Baby" music video from Smashmouth.
Final Thoughts: "Can't Hardly Wait" is a frequently funny, good-natured teen comedy that - despite being a low-profile release when it was put out 10 years ago - has held up quite well and gained a greater following in the years since. This Blu-Ray special edition offers improved audio/video quality, as well as a set of really nice new extras. Recommended.
The Film B