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It's graduation day at Huntington Hills High, and the seniors hold the ultimate teen party where class nerds become class studs, super-jocks are humiliated and freshmen crushes blossom into grown-up romance.

Harry Elfont, Deborah Kaplan
Jennifer Love Hewitt, Ethan Embry, Charlie Korsmo, Lauren Ambrose, Peter Facinelli, Seth Green
Writing Credits:
Deborah Kaplan & Harry Elfont

An event 18 years in the making

Box Office:
$10 million.
Opening Weekend
$8.025 million on 1987 screens.
Domestic Gross
$25.339 million.

Rated PG-13 for teen drinking and sexuality, and for language.

Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English Dolby Surround 2.0
French Dolby Surround 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 100 min.
Price: $14.95
Release Date: 11/17/1998

• Audio Commentary with Directors Harry Elfont and Deborah Kaplan, Producers Jenno Topping and Betty Thomas and Actor Seth Green
• Smash Mouth Music Video ďCanít Get Enough Of You BabyĒ
• Theatrical Trailer
• Stills Gallery


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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Can't Hardly Wait (1998)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 24, 2009)

Because I spend so much time with new releases, I donít get many opportunities to check out older titles that I missed along the way. Granted, our attempts to add special pages like the ones dedicated to Best Picture winners or the AFI Top 100 keep me busy, but I donít often rent other kinds of DVDs that donít fit these parameters.

However, once in a while something piques my curiosity and I need to make an exception. After I reviewed the abysmal Josie and the Pussycats, I read other folksí reviews and learned some details about the DVD for Canít Hardly Wait, another flick from Josieís directors. Though my dislike for Josie should have dissuaded me from any interest in their other work, one element of the DVD intrigued me. I heard it had a terrific audio commentary. Since Iím a huge fan of those tracks, I decided that I needed to give Wait a look.

The biggest downside of this choice stemmed from the fact that I needed to actually watch Wait before I could enjoy the commentary. Based on my experience with Josie, this prospect didnít delight me. However, while Wait failed to thrill me, I found it to offer a reasonably witty and entertaining teen comedy that kept me moderately interested.

Wait focuses on the evening after graduation for some high school students. All of the action revolves around one big party that follows this event. The film boasts a huge roster of participants, but some main characters evolve. Most touted are Mike (Peter Facinelli) and Amanda (Jennifer Love Hewitt), the allegedly perfect couple who broke up on graduation day after four years together. An arrogant jock who dreams of grander pastures with college women, Mike dumped Amanda so he could play the field. This humiliates her to a degree, but matters eventually backfire when Mike discovers that single life isnít as hot as he imagined.

While this matter upsets Amanda, it elates Preston (Ethan Embry), the slightly-dorky dude who has dreamed of her ever since she came to their school in ninth grade. After four long years, he finally sees his chance, and he pours his heart into a much-refined letter meant to attract her. Unfortunately, heís a bit of a wimp, and he dilly-dallies through much of the film until he can finally muster the courage to deal with her.

Prestonís cynical friend Denise (Lauren Ambrose) has issues of her own. She confronts these with Kenny (Seth Green), one of the schoolís wannabe black kids; Kennyís as white as they come, but he feigns street attitude and garb, all of which make him feel like the baddest of the bad. Unfortunately for him, none of the girls at the party agree, and his oft-stated desire to get laid goes nowhere. However, in an attempt to get back at her cheating boyfriend, one tipsy female says sheíll do him. Kenny needs to purge his bladder first, however, an enterprise that ends poorly when Denise accidentally locks the two of them in the bathroom. There they discuss their estranged relationships; theyíd been close in younger days but he ditched her to seem cool once they hit middle school.

Rounding out our main roster is William (Charlie Korsmo), a serious nerd who wants to get revenge on Mike for all the nasty things he did to him over the years. With his dorky friends, William conjures a plan to humiliate Mike, but he gets badly sidetracked along the way. He downs a few beers to fit in, but this loosens him up and makes him behave in unusual ways, all with interesting results.

Although Canít Hardly Wait tries to include some ďcoming of ageĒ aspects, its heart isnít in this form of introspection. Instead, the film works best as a giddy romp through a rowdy party. The movie flits rapidly from character to character, and the camera rarely remains still. Instead, it prefers a ďfly on the wallĒ attitude that combines a number of storylines within one spastic package.

For filmmakers like directors Harry Elfont and Deborah Kaplan, this is the best way to go. As demonstrated during Josie, their talents donít suit movies that try to have any particular message or point, so Wait works most effectively when it simply provides a gleeful skewering of high school cliques and stereotypes. Because of that, the flickís first half seems most compelling; the second segment tries to get deeper, but these attempts generally fall flat. Granted, they were expected for this sort of film, but they still didnít come across particularly well. At times, it appeared like they wanted to make an updated version of American Graffiti, but such aspirations are beyond the directorsí reach.

However, that doesnít mean that they canít make a fairly fun and entertaining little romp. Wait succeeds best when it flits about rapidly. Once the movie sticks with any single subject for too long, it becomes somewhat tiresome and bland. The chaos of the situation is its strongest aspect, and the film seems most entertaining when it takes advantage of that.

Ultimately, not much about Canít Hardly Wait sets it strongly above its teen brethren, but I must admit that it definitely is a better flick than most in the genre. It suffers from some of the usual pitfalls, and it can be slow-paced and dull at times, but the moderate satire found in its portrayals allows it to become fun and witty at times. In the end, Canít Hardly Wait was a forgettable but enjoyable little flick.

The DVD Grades: Picture C+/ Audio B / Bonus C+

Canít Hardly Wait appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The transfer showed some ups and downs but remained decent.

Sharpness was fairly positive. Occasional instances of softness materialized, but most of the film appeared concise and well-defined. No instances of jagged edges or shimmering occurred, but I noticed moderate examples of edge enhancement. Source flaws remained minor. Grain was a little heavy, and I also saw a few specks and nicks. None of these factors became enormous distractions, but they created some problems.

Colors looked pretty good. The movie featured a natural palette and occasional boasted vivid tones. The grain sometimes made things a little murky, but the hues usually seemed strong. Blacks were dark and dense, while shadows showed reasonable delineation. Low-light shots sometimes seemed slightly thick, but they usually worked fine. All of this added up to a ďC+Ē image that lost points due to the edge enhancement and source concerns.

As for the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Canít Hardly Wait, it moderately surprised me. The soundfield provided a fairly immersive affair that used all five channels to reasonable effect. Music accompanied most of the movie, and the songs blasted cleanly from the speakers. The tunes showed good differentiation among the channels and they added a nice element to the mix.

Effects and dialogue also showed up in the side and rear speakers, and they became a good complement to the action. A fair amount of speech emanated from the individual channels, an aspect of the mix that cropped up neatly during the filmís opening sequence; as unpictured teens set up the movieís actions, their voices came from all around us. Effects also used the different speakers well, as these elements created a solidly realistic and convincing environment that blended together well.

Audio quality also seemed to be fairly good. Some speech displayed modest edginess, but most of the dialogue sounded acceptably warm and natural, and I detected no problems related to intelligibility. Effects were distinct and accurate, and they showed no signs of distortion or other concerns. The many tunes played in the movie also fared well. They displayed good dynamic range, with clean highs and reasonably low and rich bass. Ultimately, Canít Hardly Wait provided a solid auditory experience that worked nicely for the film.

In addition, this DVD release of Canít Hardly Wait includes a few supplements. Most significant of these is the audio commentary I mentioned at the start of my review. This piece includes directors Harry Elfont and Deborah Kaplan, actor Seth Green and producers Jenno Topping and Betty Thomas. All were recorded together for this running, screen-specific affair. Note that Thomas doesnít enter until about 55 minutes into the commentary.

Based on what I read elsewhere, it was Greenís contribution that promised to offer the most fun. At the start of the track, he speaks with a British accent for no apparent reason. This provokes a couple of remarks from the others and he stops after a fairly brief interval. This aspect of the commentary disappointed me because I hoped Green would carry his gag to a greater extreme. The sheer weirdness inherent in his decision delighted me, and based on what I read elsewhere, I thought heíd continue to annoy the others to a much greater degree. As it stood, the accent wasnít much of an issue, and it took little for him to cease. I was disappointed when he quit.

Despite that letdown, I really enjoyed this track. The commentary for Wait was easily one of the whiniest Iíve ever heard, but I mean that as a compliment. The vast majority of these recordings offer far too much happy talk and praise. To be certain, I heard a little about how talented some of the participants were, but for the most part, this was a gleefully crotchety track.

Throughout the piece, the speakers told us what they did wrong and pointed out errors. They also discussed all of the changes they had to make to get their ďPG-13Ē rating, and they clearly wished that these hadnít occurred. They rag on each other to a degree, and they spill dirt about absent collaborators. All of this was wrapped in a lively, coherent package that rarely ceased to be entertaining and irreverent.

A few other small elements round out the package. We find a surprisingly interesting music video for Smash Mouthís ďCanít Get Enough Of You, BabyĒ. The clip uses the standard format; we find a mix of lip-synched performance footage from the band and snippets from the movie. However, the ďliveĒ segments show a bright and fun Sixties look, and they seem entertaining and vivid. In addition, the video includes a cameo from Jennifer Love Hewitt, who looks especially hot.

Lastly, we get a Stills Gallery with 14 fairly bland publicity and production shots, and we also discover the filmís theatrical trailer. The latter includes some footage cut from the final movie, and it seems like a minor misrepresentation of the flick. The ad makes the picture looks more reflective and introspective than it really is. For example, the scene in which Denise stresses to Kenny that heís white is played solely for laughs in the final film; however, the trailer lets us believe that this is some sort of dramatic confrontation between the two.

One disappointment in regard to the extras: during the commentary, I constantly heard about scenes that had been cut from the final film. Clearly the participants liked those snippets and wanted them to remain in the movie. However, ratings considerations wouldnít allow this, and they often remark that they hope the excised footage will end up on the DVD. It doesnít; I found no signs of any deleted scenes. Perhaps the studio refused to include any unrated material, but it was too bad those clips didnít appear.

Nonetheless, Canít Hardly Wait was a fairly solid little package. The film wasnít a classic, but it offered a reasonably bright and amusing teen flick. Members of that age group will clearly like it best, but old folks like me can still derive some enjoyment from it. The DVD provided decent picture, good audio and a fun audio commentary. Nothing here excels, but the disc works well as a whole.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.9642 Stars Number of Votes: 28
5 3:
View Averages for all rated titles.

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