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Can't Hardly Wait (1998)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 9/30/2008
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 9/29/2008; Updated 11/26/2018
Is there an age limit on high school movies? I'm not talking about the actors (who always appear to be much older than high school age), but the viewers. Do you have to currently be in high school in order to be the target audience for a high school film? I think that it depends on the focus of the film. If the movie is an amateurish piece which wanders into exploitation-land, then the audience may be narrow. But, if the film explores some general themes which most American teenagers have experienced, then it may be more accessible. Can't Hardly Wait appears to be aimed squarely at Gen Y, but a closer look reveals a much deeper film.
Can't Hardly Wait opens on graduation day at Huntington High School. Graduating senior Preston Meyers (Ethan Embry) learns that his long-time crush, Amanda Beckett (Jennifer Love Hewitt), has broken up with her jock boyfriend, Mike Dexter (Peter Facinelli). When the announcement of a graduation party circulates through the crowd, Preston decides that this is his big chance to tell Amanda how he feels. Preston's best friend, Denise Fleming (Lauren Ambrose), who is a self-imposed outcast, doesn't like the idea of attending the party, but agrees to go. Meanwhile, Mike convinces his buddies (Freddie Rodriguez, Channon Roe, and Sean Patrick Thomas) to follow his lead and dump their girlfriends so that they can be free over the summer. Nerdy Williams (Charlie Korsmo) concocts a plan to get revenge on Mike for years of torment. As the party gets under way, Kenny Fisher AKA "Special K" (Seth Green) arrives at the party determined to hook up with one of ten girls which he's pre-selected. Preston wanders the party trying to find the courage to talk to Amanda.
With movies about teens which are aimed at teens, you are lucky to get any depth whatsoever. Thus, it says a lot about Can't Hardly Wait that the movie works on two levels. First of all, it's funny. The movie features a nice blend of physical humor, sight gags, and clever lines. There are several random scenes at the party which are funny. Ethan Embry plays perhaps the goofiest high school kid ever, and his infectious nature produces some laughs. But it's Seth Green who steals the show here as Kenny, the rap-obsessed white boy who thinks that he's the coolest. His social ineptness mixed with his ridiculous bravado brings about the funniest moments in the movie, and I still quote lines like "Time is honey." and "Why you got to be wastin' my flavor?!" to this day. Due to it's quasi-serious side (more on that below), Can't Hardly Wait isn't necessarily a comedy classic, but there's no doubt that it's funny.
The jokes are balanced out by a true emotional center which gives the movie weight. While the main stage of Can't Hardly Wait is a raging high school party, the themes being played out there are fairly universal. We get Preston, who has admired Amanda from afar for years. We also get Amanda, who realizes that her relationship with Mike is going nowhere. Then there's Denise and Kenny, two people who have sculpted their own unique personalities, but don't feel as if they fit in. While the movie is squarely set in 1998, these and other storylines present ideas that most anyone can relate to. Most viewers will be able to identify with at least one character in the film. And while these are stereotypical ideas and characters, the movie presents them in a way where they each have a unique voice.
My wife and I say Can't Hardly Wait in the theater during a phase where we were seeing nearly everything that was released. (And popcorn was free on Wednesdays.) Despite the fact that we were both 10 years removed from high school, we found the film to be funny and charming and it remains one of our favorites to this day. For most people, high school is a time of highs and lows, and Can't Hardly Wait captures both of these feelings in a way which is realistic, but still very funny. And the bottom line is this; Any movie whose title is taken from a song by The Replacements is OK by me.
Can't Hardly Wait parties ontoBlu-ray Disc courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment in a new "10 Year Reunion Edition". The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the Disc contains a 1080p HD AVC transfer which runs at an average of 27 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear for the most part, but there are some definite issues here. Grain is noticeable throughout the movie and the edges of the frame are dark at times. The image is flat and shows little depth. The colors are good and the bulk of the image is never overly dark or light. There are no notable defects from the source material. This has definitely been cleaned up when compared to the original DVD, but the image still doesn't scream reference quality. The Disc offers a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 1.7 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The opening sequence of Can't Hardly Wait features of the best surround sound tests that you will find and it sounds great here as the dialogue comes from the 5 channels. This continues throughout the film, and there are distinct moments of surround sound action. ("Sweet Child O' Mine!" "Patience!") There stereo effects at the party at good, and some of the in-film music offers nice bass response. Still, the track lacks the kind of HD clarity for which I was hoping and only sounds slightly better than DVD.
The Can't Hardly Wait Blu-ray Disc contains a mixture of old and new extras. We start with the "Original Filmmaker & Cast Commentary" from the initial DVD release. This talk features Writers/Directors Deborah Kaplan & Harry Elfont, Producer Jenno Topping, and actor Seth Green. This is the infamous track where Green speaks with a British accent for the first half of the film...and a convincing one at that. The speakers talk about the making of the film and the great cast, while Kaplan and Elfont point many comments at the censors, as they explain how they had to hide the teenaged drinking in the film. Next we have "Filmmaker & Cast Commentary - 10 Years Later", which features Seth Green, Peter Facinelli, Donald Faison, Joel Michaely, Harry Elfont, & Deborah Kaplan. This is a raucous, but entertaining chat, as all of the speakers often try to talk at once. (This may have something to do with the margaritas that they keep mentioning.) They reminisce about the movie, wonder where the other actors are now, and generally make fun of how they all looked and acted in the movie. Despite this, we can tell that they are all proud of it. "Special K's 411 Track Yo'" brings us factoids about the movie via pop-ups while you watch the film. "Huntington Hills High Class of '98 Reunion" (27 minutes) examines not only the cast, but the depth of the cast in the film. Through comments from the cast and filmmakers, the piece explores how actors in even the smallest roles are recognizable faces. We get intimate portraits of nearly every speaking role in the film and it's amazing how they got all of these actors together for this. "Can't Hardly Wait: The Making of a Teen Classic" (14 minutes) doesn't contain any behind-the-scenes footage, it's simply the same cast and crew from the previous featurette sharing anecdotes about the film's production. "The Life of the Party" (10 minutes) has the speakers discussing the teen party movie genre and how Can't Hardly Wait relates. The Disc contains six DELETED SCENES which run about 7 minutes. The bulk of these are merely deleted moments from existing scenes, or longer versions of scenes from the movie. We get the MUSIC VIDEO for "I Can't Get Enough of You Baby" by Smashmouth.
On October 30, 2018, Mill Creek Entertainment released Can't Hardly Wait on Blu-ray Disc. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 35 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing a slight amount of grain throughout and no defects from the source materials. As far as I can tell, this transfer has the same origin, as the earlier release, but there are some slight improvements. The colors look good and the image is never overly dark or bright. The issues with dark edges does not appear here. The depth is better, as is the level of detail. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 2.5 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. Can't Hardly Wait remains one of the few comedies to show truly clever use of surround sound throughout the film, but most notably during the opening credits. These sounds remain very strong here and this is the perfect disc to pop-in if you want to show someone what surround should should sound like. The same goes for the stereo effects and the music (which is constant) often delivers good bass.
This new Can't Hardly Wait Blu-ray Disc contains the exact same extras as the previous release. So, despite some mild improvements with the video (which may be a result of modern equipment), this is essentially the same release as before. If you're a fan of the film and weren't able to snag the 2008 Blu-ray Disc, then this is worth picking up.
Review Copyright 2008/2018 by Mike Long