I had low expectations for this type of film, just like anyone else.At the same time, John-Hughes-style teen comedies are so hard to come by these days, I was hoping that this new offering, Can't Hardly Wait, would be a decent effort. Writers/directors Elfont and Kaplan manage to pull it off and then some.
The typical cases are all there at the post-graduation get-together: the shy boy (Ethan Embry) putting forth his best effort to win the love of the most popular girl in school (Jennifer Love Hewitt); the nerdy-type (Charlie Korsmo) seeking high-tech revenge on the Cro-Magnon jock who's hassled him through the years; the space case (Seth Green) out to score some poon-tang in a fit of overenthusiasm (and overpreparedness). Also in the mix are the cynical introvert (Lauren Ambrose), the school-spirit poster child (Melissa Joan Hart) obsessed with her yearbook, and the neurotic host of the party (dammit, I forgot her name).
This could have fell apart quite easily, but what saves this film is first-rate acting, an enthusiastic pace, and a determinedness to steer clear of worn-out character cliches. The nerd-type isn't made into an over-dorky Eddie Deezen wannabe; in fact, he has a soft spot for Guns-n-Roses, as shown in the heavy-metal-karaoke scene that was the highlight of the film for me. The jock isn't a standard-issue tough guy - he can't even get his own buds to follow his orders. The popular girl isn't a stuck-up bitch waiting for someone to win her over, but instead finds the shy boy's love letter to her and sets out to find the guy herself.
Complementing the film nicely is the usual assortment of songs by popular alternative rock acts, as well as an abundance of 80s-90s pop culture references that would make HUBER proud.Sure, it doesn't quite reach the level of John Hughes' finest. But Can't Hardly Wait sure has a hell of a lot of fun trying.