"Party Out of Bounds"
Teen comedy CAN'T HARDLY WAIT is set during a high school graduation party where Preston must declare his love for class knock-out Amanda, or forever let her go. Supported by a cast of jocks, geeks, prom queens, and misfits, this movie has a few moral elements but many displays of excess including underage drinking and implied fornication, plus general immature, immoral behavior.
Teen comedies seemed to be a dime a dozen in the 80s. John Hughes was spitting out 16 CANDLES, PRETTY IN PINK and SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL among others. We also saw FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH and SAY ANYTHING. The 90s have been surprisingly free from this genre with CLUELESS as the only movie that is worth noting. In recent years, however, the teenage horror flick (SCREAM and I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER) has resurfaced, but the comedy has remained aloof, until CAN’T HARDLY WAIT. Including everything some teenagers would ever want in the genre including jocks, geeks, prom queens, bimbos, head-bangers, and misfits, it has a few moral elements but many displays of excess and general immaturity. Teenagers may love it, but parents will be hard pressed to let them go.
The stars of CAN’T HARDLY WAIT are Ethan Embry as Preston Meyers and Jennifer Love Hewitt as Amanda Beckett. The day is high school graduation day, of course, and Preston, an aspiring writer, has never proclaimed his love for Amanda. Ever since freshman year when he noticed she too was eating a strawberry pop-tart, he has felt they were destined to be together. He only has one more night to tell her, at a graduation party, before he has to leave on a train for college.
Amanda, however, has spent four years dating Tom Cruise look-alike jock Mike Dexter (Facinelli). Mike has strutted, preened and ordered around his gang of friends, and the audience quickly realizes that he is a jerk. Just before the party, Mike dumps Amanda to pursue his testosterone-charged fantasies with college women. Hurt, Amanda still makes an appearance at the party.
Rounding out the players are: Preston’s introverted gal-pal and confidante, Denise Fleming (Ambrose); a white boy turned “homeboy” named Kenny Fisher; William Lichter (Korsmo), a sci-fi loving, honor-roll geek; and, a Yearbook Girl (played by Melissa Joan Hart), who is anxious to have everyone sign her yearbook.
The party is held at the home of an unnamed rich girl who is constantly screaming about treating the home with care. There: Mike tells his buddies to dump their girlfriends, Amanda’s second-cousin hits on her, Preston loses the opportunity to talk to Amanda, and Kenny and Denise accidentally lock themselves in the bathroom. William gets drunk, sings a Guns ‘N Roses song and cozies up to Mike. Finally, after Preston gets some advice from a forlorn stripper (Jenna Elfman), he is able to express his love to Amanda, but in a way he never expected.
Drawing from influences as diverse as THE X-FILES, Barry Manilow and the Kama Sutra Hindu sex manual, this movie is well written, well cast and pumped for all it attempts to accomplish. Teenagers will enjoy the new music and fast-paced editing. In fact, some of the direction and editing are quite unique and accomplished.
What are the dangers? There are many. At the party, alcohol is served and several underage people become drunk. There is also the infamous “make-out” room where we constantly see couples come and go. The home of the party is trashed. Boys callously dump their girlfriends. Names are called to one another. William defames God when he says that “people are like salt on a pretzel, and God is just waiting to eat them.” Perhaps most alarming of all are Kenny’s backpack filled with sexual aids and his declared intentions of sexual conquest. Although initially unlucky, he achieves his goal. Teenagers may say that all these things happen all the time at parties and that there will be nothing in the movie that they haven’t seen or don’t know about all ready. Nevertheless, there is much to be concerned about here because of the cavalier way in which the movie portrays these immoral activities which can only bring unwanted and unhappy consequences.
Is there anything good? Well, neither marijuana nor homosexuality is discussed. Mike is rebuked for treating Amanda badly. Kenny is told to lose the phony “homeboy” act. The party is broken up by the police, as a reminder to underage drinkers that this activity is illegal, and some people are arrested including William, who is thrown into a drunk tank. Finally, it gives an admonition that love, when sincere, is rewarded.
Some teenagers may say they CAN’T HARDLY WAIT to see this movie. It sure isn’t BEACH BLANKET BINGO or even the John Hughes comedies of the 80s. Every generation’s teen comedies seem to get a little dirtier and darker, but because of its clever packaging, CAN’T HARDLY WAIT may be one of the toughest movies for parents to help their teenagers avoid.
(Pa, B, LLL, V, SS, AA, D, M) Pagan worldview of teenagers partying with some mild moral elements; 36 obscenities & 19 mostly exclamatory profanities & one blasphemous remark; mild violence including disregard for property, mild vandalism & shoving matches; implied fornication, several images of couples heavily kissing & sexual innuendo; no nudity but a few revealing outfits; alcohol use, underage drinking & drunkenness; smoking; and, lying, stealing, cheating, & disregard for women.