Our high school years just don’t age as well as we’d like…
Can’t Hardly Wait takes us back to the late 90’s for those end of high school moments that we all wax nostalgic about but just never hold up as it all plays in a stereotypical and kind of dull fashion as it leans on character archetypes and generic genre stereotypes on this 20 Year Reunion Edition.
It’s graduation day at Huntington Hills High. It’s a time for pomp, circumstance, tassels, mortarboards and some serious introspection about the future for each one of these graduates. However tonight, the seniors leave all that behind for the things that truly matter; romance, revenge and rock and roll.
For the late nineties entry into the genre, Can’t Hardly Wait doesn’t hold up and plays far too frenetically to really connect as the loaded casting actually ends up distracting from the narrative with the 6 different leads who just aren’t well written enough. It’s an awkward exercise in pacing that while not without some fun moments never really gets a chance to feel emotionally resolute.
The writing/directing team of Deborah Kaplan and Harry Elfont have certainly gone on to do some other things but never quite elevated themselves from this material. The teen sex comedy; end of school arc has been done before and has been done better but putting the bulk of the material in the party situation actually kinds of plays in a fun way.
People are basically partying and the energy comes across but that takes away from the story arcs that are trying to be delivered. The film actually ends up trying to do far too much and while there’s never really anything wrong with anything happens on screen it just serves as a reminder that high school parties were usually socially awkward and pointless rather than being these epic moments in our lives. We remember the fun, but the actual details of it all ends up being pretty pointless.
The various romance arcs are decent, but with dynamic between the awkward Preston (Ethan Embry) and Amanda (Jennifer Love Hewitt) as well as between Denise (Lauren Ambrose) and Kenny (Seth Green) we never feel invested in either one of them. The film just jumps to life lesson to life lesson and even though there’s great beats with the likes of Jerry O’Connell and Jenna Elfman but they got tossed aside for the pointless comedic moments of the high school party.
The film just does too much in too little of time trying get the likes of Freddie Rodriguez, Jason Segel, Chris Owen, Donald Faison, Peter Facinelli, Melissa Joan Hart, Breckin Meyer, Selma Blair, Eric Balfour, Clea Duvall, Marisol Nichols, Jamie Pressly, Erik Palladino and Sean Patrick Thomas (just to name a few) into the movie so they can have all their beats and moments. If ever there was a film that was actually overcast in hindsight, this is it as it all felt less about telling the story and more about making sure that everyone got a laugh before the went out of the door.
The transfer on the film is pretty basic from the original release of the disc. Its fine, but more than enough film grain throughout to remind us that this is basically a repacking job and not really much of an upgrade from the initial DVD release. However there is a DTS 5.1 audio track which is pretty crisp and clean.
Most the special features appear to just be transferred over from the original or the 2008 release.
There’s a feature length original commentary track with the filmmakers and cast from the original release as well as a newer one recorded in 2008. The 2008 commentary track is certainly a little more entertaining and a lot looser from the original but I can imagine fans of the film getting a kick out of both.
There are three behind the scenes featurettes from the 2008 release.
Huntington Hills: Class of ’98 Reunion Special which is a 27 minute look at the cast and assembly of the film which plays as more of a love letter to casting director Mary Vernieu then it is to the actual filmmakers or any of the actors that they all worked with.
Can’t Hardly Wait: The Making of a Teen Classic: Basically 14 minutes of fluff, you can see how everyone involved has fond memories of the production but there isn’t a lot of genuine insight and it’s just a bunch of people talking about how much they love the film.
Life Of The Party: This looks at why the setting of the party is so important in the end of high school cinematic genre. Just more reasonably well produced fluff and reminiscing, not a lot of actual nuance or cinematic examination.
There are about 7 minutes of deleted scenes, and the original Smash Mouth music video; Can’t Get Enough of You, Baby.
I’ll grant that I am a little past the age for Can’t Hardly Wait to be a genuine piece of cinematic nostalgia, but it just doesn’t hold up to something like American Pie which came out a year later and obviously had a longer run to it with a variety of sequels not to mention a much larger box office. This new 20 Year Reunion edition from Mill Creek Entertainment is decent enough for anyone who deems this a genuine piece of art and nostalgia from their younger years but as a straight up movie, it’s a poor shadow of films that not only came before it, but after it as well.