By now considered a cult teen classic, Can’t Hardly Wait opened in summer of 1998 and instantly drew a crowd to the theater. While its final box office intake was under twenty-five million, the film continued to thrive in later format releases and to this day is quoted by those who grew up with the film and by those who are just now discovering it. While not of the same caliber as the John Hughes films from the 80s, Can’t Hardly Wait was one of few 90s teen films that has had staying power as well as a fan base strong enough to warrant a tenth anniversary edition.
The day of graduation changed everything for the Huntington Hills High School Class of ’98, as they all congregated on one single party that brought classmates together for one last time. Covering a wide array of cliques and characters, Can’t Hardly Wait delves into every area imaginable for a high school teen comedy and tackles each field exceedingly well. With a cast of characters that range from normal names to characters that go only by the names of “Watermelon Guy” and “Ready to Have Sex Girl,” Can’t Hardly Wait remains a 90s teen comedy classic to this day.
I was just a tad bit young for this film when it came out and I assume in 2010 I’ll get a special edition of some teen comedy from 2000 that I can relate more to (were there any? I honestly don’t remember…), but regardless even when I was in the age bracket for this film I never made an effort to see it. Why? I honestly couldn’t tell you; the cast was certainly robust enough, but it just didn’t appeal to me and it quite honestly wasn’t my “type” of film. Watching it now for the first time, however, I can definitely see where it gets its cult status from and why people continue to quote it.
To put it in simplest terms, Can’t Hardly Wait is as close to a John Hughes teen comedy as we could get in modern days, although it’s a bit more Weird Science than Sixteen Candles. There are the pretty girls, the jocks, the geeks, the outcasts…it’s pretty much covering every social caste one could expect. While this may sound tired and tedious, the thing that keeps this film entertaining is that…well, it is entertaining. Although I initially dreaded watching it, I quickly warmed up to it and began to realize that the dialogue that was coming out of these characters wasn’t roll-your-eyes annoying but rather something that was actually smart.
There were many elements I enjoyed about this film, but perhaps the most intriguing and surprising to me was just how many random faces pop up in the background of the party. Jason Siegel, Donald Faison, Selma Blair, Eric Balfour, Jenna Elfman, Melissa Joan Heart…these were all secondary and background characters that barely said a word in some cases, but are all now moderately well known. I was also surprised to see Amber Benson (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) for about a split second (I later found that she was in a deleted scene). I can’t decide if I was laughing at everyone being in this film or whether I was just genuinely amused by the film itself. Honestly, it doesn’t matter—it’s a great trip either way you cut it.
By the time the film ended with its sappy romance angles and the characters fates were foretold in freeze frame histories and text, the film is about as generic and by-the-books as you’d expect, but it still exudes a lot of charm. The many characters that inhabit the film, secondary or primary, are all wonderful. Seth Green is absolutely hilarious and the “main plot” of the film with Ethan Embry and Jennifer Love Hewitt’s characters was also quite entertaining to watch, although for taking up so much cover space, you do rarely see Hewitt in the film (although she does have just about the most mind numbing intro, complete with awkward stairs and windblown hair…inside of a house).
In all the film is short and sweet, but still a lot of fun to watch. There are plenty of quotable lines and the film just doesn’t feel like a cheap and cheesy teen comedy, which is what makes it so enjoyable. As I mentioned before, this is really the best we could get from the 90s in terms of John Hughes style teen comedies; it’s a shame there weren’t a few more films of this quality from the 90s, but overall I’m happy with what this film gave us. Recommended.
This new tenth anniversary DVD, arriving in a standard amaray case with a cardboard slip mimicking the art below. Disc art is similar, with no inserts inside and a standard and easy to navigate menu, Can’t Hardly Wait has a fair presentation on DVD. I can’t be sure if this is a new video transfer or not, I never owned or saw the previous edition, but for what it’s worth it’s a fair presentation of the film. Color levels are solid and the only real issues with the transfer were the occasional out of focus scene, but after listening to the commentary I discovered that was an actual film issue and not a transfer glitch. The accompanying 5.1 surround track is nice and robust, with plenty of background chatter during the majority of the film, as it takes place in the party and there’s always going to be a wealth of audio information to spit out for those sequences.
Sony has rounded up as many of the original cast as possible and created a whole well of new extras to view. First up we have a brand new commentary with filmmakers and cast – 10 Years Later – Peter Peter Facinelli, Seth Green, Joel Michaely, Deborah Kaplan, Harry Elfont. This track is mostly just what my review was, commenting on the various people who have since “made it big,” along with some of the usual reflective moments. Accompanying this is the commentary from the original release with Harry Elfont, Deborah Kaplan, Jenno Topping, Seth Green. This track is much more information charged and for the first twelve minutes or so we get to hear Green attempt an accent that he eventually drops when confronted if he’ll talk that way for the entire commentary.
Moving onto the rest of the extras we first have the “Huntington Hills Class of 98 Reunion” (26:42) extra which nearly gets the entire cast back together (individually for the most part, although Faison and Green appear together for whatever reason). Sadly Hewitt is missing, I guess she was too busy on her show; but, nearly everyone else pops up including Ethan Embry, Peter Facinelli, Michelle Brookhurst and even Jenna Elfman for a few very brief clips. The same round of individuals is seen again in “Can’t Hardly Wait: The Making of a Teen Classic” (14:28), which focuses more on the production of the film rather than just a celebratory get-together like the Reunion extra. “The Life of the Party” (9:28) is the final of the reunion extras, where the cast just talks about how old they are.
Next are the Deleted Scenes (7:16, six total), a trivia track (ranging from kind of interesting to pointless) and a trivia game and the “I Can’t Get Enough of You Baby” Music Video (2:52). That finishes up the extras for this release and quite frankly I’m surprised there were so many as is. Retrospective extras are often the best kind, however, as everyone feels free to be as critical about their work and performances as possible, rather than just rely on what the studios want them to say.
Overall this new edition comes Recommended, regardless if you own the old cut or not. If you enjoy this movie enough to own it, then you’ll want to check out the new extras as they are genuinely interesting and entertaining through and through.
Can’t Hardly Wait: 10 Year Reunion Edition is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.