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CAN'T HARDLY WAIT
Blu-ray 10 Year Reunion Edition

Review by Michael Jacobson

Stars:  Jennifer Love Hewitt, Ethan Embry, Charlie Korsmo, Lauren Ambrose, Seth Green
Directors:  Deborah Kaplan & Harry Elfont
Audio:  Dolby True HD 5.1
Video: 
Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio:  Sony
Features:  See Review
Length:  101 Minutes
Release Date:  September 30, 2008

"I can't feel my legs...I HAVE NO LEGS!!"

Film ***

Can't Hardly Wait is a teen comedy that pays much homage to those that came before, like Sixteen Candles or Dazed and Confused.  A lot of films in that genre are hit or miss.  This is a hit.

First off, there is a great ensemble cast at work here—no weak links—and the most famous, Jennifer Love Hewitt, is no more visible than any other star.  The script is mostly good and often downright hilarious.  You will laugh out loud on more than one occasion.  The direction is top notch, creating a somewhat chaotic but technically controlled environment for the kids to interact and "randomly" bounce off one another. 

The story mostly takes place at the last party of the year for a group of high school seniors…hardly uncultivated ground, but the directors use the setting and the multiple stories as a means for creating and maintaining a good comic energy level.  For some, it’s just one last chance to cut loose, but for others, everything hangs in the balance.  It’s the kind of night when the meaning to a particular Barry Manilow song can greatly influence the outcome of the evening.

At the heart of the story is the lovestruck teenage boy, and Ethan Embry makes a good protagonist.  There’s something about his enthusiasm, and his unfortunate tendency to hesitate when he should be acting that’s very likable.  The plot is nothing we haven't seen before: nice, quiet kid loves lonely, popular beauty, and this party is his last chance to tell her.  Will he do it?  Will they end up together?  Before the night is over, will they have just missed each other several times?  (Naturally). 

But what is less than enthralling plot-wise is more than made up for by the strength of the acting and the hysterical writing.  My favorite is the band at the party, who never gets to play a single note because the members can't stop arguing with each other!

Other cast members also deserve notice…Seth Green gives one of his funniest performances as Kenny, the hip-hop white kid determined to lose his virginity at the party, and Lauren Ambrose as the no-nonsense girl who ends up sharing most of the evening with him, because…well, you’ll see.

And Jenna Elfman also turns up briefly, personifying the film’s lone voice of adult wisdom and reason.  It’s a little bit ironic that she’s a prostitute dressed in an angel’s costume.

Video ***1/2

This movie has held up well over the last ten years, and this high definition transfer from Sony is a good fit.  There's not a lot of demands on your system, but images are generally clean and clear throughout, with only a touch of softness here and there, with good color and contrast and decent levels of detail throughout.

Audio ***

The Dolby TrueHD soundtrack is a nice addition, though the comedy mostly offers dialogue and music.  There's not much surround usage, but the songs give the bass an extra charge every now and then.  Dynamic range is fair throughout, and spoken works balance nicely against all other effects.

Features ****

The disc contains a few new extras for the anniversary release.  There's the original commentary track with writers/directors Deborah Kaplan and Harry Elfont and cast members, plus a brand new one looking back a decade after the movie.  There are also deleted scenes, a making-of featurette, a class reunion featurette a trailer, a photo gallery, and Smash Mouth’s video for “Can’t Get Enough of You Baby”.   There's also a trivia game to let you know if you're 90s or not, but sadly, I'm all 80s.

Summary:

Can the social events of a single night alter the course of your life forever?  Sometimes, but not usually.  What’s important is remembering that tender age when you’re sure it can, and it will.  Can’t Hardly Wait has been celebrating that spirit in consistently funny and winning ways for a decade now, thanks to a good script and an appealing cast.

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