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Can't Hardly Wait movie review

Can't Hardly Wait

Films like Can't Hardly Wait are initially interesting to look at; not because there is necessarily anything remarkable about them, but rather because they position their main characters in or around the same setting for almost all of their duration. We've seen this style of film work really well in, say, The Breakfast Club, and pretty awfully in something like Kevin Spacey's Albino Alligator. When a screenplay is based on the actions of characters in secluded environments, one of two things usually happen. We are either given a dynamic understanding into the thoughts and actions of the protagonists, or we are sadly exposed to butt numbing scenarios of the same boringly conceived characters. Can't Hardly Wait finds itself with more of the latter than former, probably thanks to the debut efforts of directors/writers Harry Elfont and Deborah Kaplan.

Movie poster; Can't Hardly Wait; Festivale online magazine; 220x328
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Elfont and Kaplan's primary setting is a teenage post-graduation party of booze and sex. After all, drunks trying to get laid are, um, always entertaining to watch. Taking place at the party are plenty of well known screen-party activities, which are given a new shining thanks to some snappy camera shots, including an interesting way to introduce important characters. It all may look pretty and glossy, but under the skin the screenplay falls flat on its face in terms of expressing itself adequately.

By adequately, I mean actually doing something. Most of Can't Hardly Wait is spent pondering what could have been, and whilst I was watching the characters party on, I couldn't help but feel that I was missing out on something. Looking back, I've figured out what it was: Can't Hardly Wait never manages to find stable cinematic ground to stand on. Elfont and Kaplan probably had the best intentions at heart when putting pen to paper, and I guess there first and foremost aim was to create a fun teen comedy, perhaps in the style of a John Hughes film. Alicia Silverstone's Clueless was intelligent enough to keep its material trashy but sly, and Dazed and Confused skillfully introduced characters and setting, then developed from there. But Can't Hardly Wait is just trash and fun, and neither is satirical or smart enough to make it worthwhile. You could say this film is a good example of a reasonable concept that is developed without the skill or know-how that it desperately needs.

Jennifer Love Hewitt and Ethan Embry look charming together when they are, actually, together - if only for a few minutes. The rest of the film, however, is pretty sober and dull, with many scenarios drawn out way too long. Can't Hardly Wait does succeed reasonably well with audience entertainment, and although laughs are infrequent and the gags are not particularly memorable, it's a little piece of shot-sized fun. But all in all, if this is an example of what a new wave of teen's films might look like, I can definitely wait.

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Australian theatrical release date: September 17
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Title: Can't Hardly Wait (199)
Written by: Deborah Kaplan & Harry Elfont
Directed by: Deborah Kaplan & Harry Elfont
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The Players: Ethan Embry, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Peter Facinelli, Charlie Korsmo, Seth Green, Lauren Ambrose, Jerry O'Connell; Melissa Joan Hart, Jenna Elfman
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