I am a product of the 80's slasher film and the teenage film generation. Films in the 80's like Fast Times, Wild Life, Revenge of the Nerds and Ferris Bueller's Day Off and such, were films that may not have been classics to the critics, but to a fifteen year old boy, they were our Citizen Kane. They taught us how to pick up women, how to attempt to have sex, how to skip school and why to skip school. They taught us that parents and adults really don't understand us and that kids really aren't that bad, we just want to have a bit of fun before life gets too serious. We have all been through emotions and experiences like the ones that those movies preach about, so it is easy for us to relate to what those films are trying to say. And it makes it that much more fun to relive those experiences ten years later. Can't Hardly Wait is the closest to an 80's teen film that I have seen in quite some time. Compared to films like the aforementioned Never Been Kissed and even She's All That, this movie is a classic.
The film was written and directed by Harry Elfont and Debra Kaplan, and if they are not about my age ( late 20's ) they certainly are lovers of 80's teen films, because it shows here that they did their homework. Some of the scenes in this film are complete homages to great 80's films like Sixteen Candles ( the two geeks on the roof ) Wild Life ( a huge party where some of the characters grow up and learn a bit about themselves and each other) and even Say Anything ( a not so popular guy in love with the school hotty.) It seems to me that Harry and Debra are lovers of the films that made growing up in the eighties so much fun.
The story is about a party on the day of the completion of exams. Here we meet all the major players in the film. And yes, they are all contrived, but that is what a film like this is about. They were not trying to re-invent the wheel here, they were trying to stick to a formula that made so many movies work. You have Amanda Beckett ( Hewitt ), the prom queen that just got broken up with by the star jock named Mike Dexter ( played with so much zeal by Peter Facinelli, look for him to have a future in Hollywood ). Then you have Preston ( Ethan Embry ) who is not necessarily a geek but he is far from a popular jock, think of Dawson. Anyway, he has loved Amanda for all of highschool and now he is finally getting the guts to tell her of his undying passion for her. You also have William Lichter, who is the school geek that comes of age in the party. He does all the things that you would expect a typically written geek in a film to do--- get drunk, have a public display of wildness that gets people to see him in a new light, and of course, in here it is his karaoking to Paradise City ( which is one of the film's funnier scenes ) and of course get laid. As I said, this movie sticks to a very popular formula. Don't look for a film like this to say new and something profound about today's youth. This movie is here to entertain and that is it. And it does that well.
Also you have Kenny Fischer ( Seth Green ) as a very white guy who thinks he is black to cover up his insecurities, and his friend from public school named Denise. Needless to say many issues are going to be raised at the party and some of them are hilarious.
A great cameo is turned in by Jerry O'Connell who plays Trip McNeely ( the ultimate jock name ). He was idolized by all the cool kids when he went to their high school. Now he is in university and according to him , in a converstion with Mike Dexter, he tells him that " guys like me and you bro are a dime a dozen. Chicks are a lot different in college. They care about the environment and things and they all date guys that are in pre-med. " It is a very funny scene.
What makes this movie so much fun to watch is that it is reminiscent of an 80's film. And that is the highest compliment that I can give it. Because, just like they don't know how to make movies like Halloween and Nightmare On Elm Street anymore, they sure as hell don't know how to make films like Breakfast Club, The Sure Thing and Secret Admirer. But this film comes really close to being like those. And if you remember those ones as films that were some of your favorites when you were sixteen, see this, it will make you laugh and entertain you, and that is an accomplishment on its own.