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Review by Matthew Leary (6/98)

Release: 1998, Columbia Pictures
Starring: Jennifer Love Hewitt, Ethan Embry, Peter Facinelli, Seth Green, Jerry O'Connell, Melissa Joan Hart, Jenna Elfman, Charlie Korsmo
Directors: Harry Elfont and Deborah Kaplan
MPAA Rating: [PG-13] sexuality, language
Genre: Romantic Comedy/Drama


A group of high school friends must re-examine their lives and relationships on the night of a giant graduation party.


Somewhere under its surface of partying teenie-boppers and Third Eye Blind tracks, there's a meaning here. Depending upon your own high school memories (assuming you're old enough to HAVE high school memories), you could interpret this film as anything from nostalgic to depressing to laughable. But the fact of the matter is that everyone comes to a point in their lives when growing up and growing apart comes into play, and this movie captures that well. High school sweethearts, frighteningly uncertain futures, and that tense feeling of letting your one chance at lifelong happiness slip through your fingers--they're all evident in this movie.

Young up-and-coming star Jennifer Love Hewitt gets to play a character more deeply developed than her role in the fairly paint-by-numbers I Know What You Did Last Summer, and, like her character of Sarah on Fox's Party of Five, it's one that she plays well. Seth Green (who, incidentally, played Hewitt's brother on the short lived television series The Byrds of Paradise), turns in a hilarious performance of comic relief, which is even backed by a more serious story by the movie's end.


Taking its touchy-feely message to a blatant extreme, the movie gets so sentimental and mushy at points that it may isolate its main target audience. Too often, Can't Hardly Wait spells out its characters' problems so that it's TELLING rather than SHOWING.

Jenna Elfman, who's supposed to be a fountain of life's wisdom in this movie, seems painfully miscast (and as in Krippendorf's Tribe, the problem seems attributed to her age): she's old enough to be the outsider in this collection of college candidates, yet she's not old enough so that her philosophical musings and advice on relationships can be taken seriously on the silver screen.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10 (0=Abysmal, 5=Average, 10=Excellent)

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