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Can't Hardly Wait

Starring Ethan Embry, Charlie Korsmo, Lauren Ambrose, Peter Facinelli, Seth Green and Jennifer Love Hewitt
Written and Directed by Harry Elfont & Deborah Kaplan
Website: www.sony.com/canthardlywait

IN SHORT:  Perfect for teens. Surprisingly enjoyable for old folk.

When Cranky saw the Can't Hardly Wait trailer a bunch of weeks back his immediate reaction was an overwhelming "Oh God please give me something else to do when it's time to see this flick." Just what I needed in the middle of the summer crunch, a flick about the big post high school graduation blowout party to end all parties, and all stuff that comes with it. Painful recollections of teen flix past shot hot pincers of pain into the grey lump that was once a brain.

It probably has something to do with the fact that I'm old enough to be a parental unit to any of the teen kidlet stars in this flick. This is my job so I prepared for the pain. Of course, that was all before Morgan Miller, the 12 year old daughter of one of Cranky's friends asked her mom if I could get her in to see the movie early. Cranky pounced on the demographic target, eagerly sat her down and told Morgan to pay close attention because she was going to write the review. Cranky figured he could sneak a nap.

Didn't nod off for a second, friends. Cranky discovered that there is very little different in the high school cliques of the 90s as there were in the 70s when I was a youth, though we weren't plagued with dumb white boyz wanting to make raphead morons of themselves, and the Internet was something that even the computer geeks of the time had no knowledge of. The talk isn't much different. The lusts and dreams and rumors of college life aren't much different either. The dialog isn't all that different either, and the script by first time directors Harry Elfont and Deborah Kaplan is a definite step up from their previous work (which includes sequel to The Brady Bunch and Homeward Bound, and the awful Jingle All The Way).

As directors, Elfont and Kaplan think bigger than the teen demo (though I wonder how much input came from producer Betty Thomas who, as a director, has taken such distasteful ideas as The Brady Bunch remake and the Howard Stern movie and turned them into gold). For us incredibly old fogeys, at minimum, they have have packed the Can't Hardly Wait soundtrack with enough 70s/80s music (Foreigner, Nazareth, Dire Straits, and Thelma Houston and so forth) to keep us happy while we wallow in our own nostalgia, trying to remember our personal post high school graduation blowouts. Cranky remembers his, barely, but I have Fifth Amendment rights to think about before I tell you anything . . .

The story, briefly centers on Amanda (Jennifer Love Hewitt), the emotionally insecure prom queen, just dumped by her All-Varsity everything (but brains) boyfriend Mike (Peter Facinelli) who envisions his coming college years as an orgy in pre-natal stage. The third player in our tale is Preston (Ethan Embry), who's had a jones for Amanda since she first transferred into the high school. He's written this letter, see, and is determined to make his feelings known before he leaves town tomorrow. Also packed in are stories featuring the white boy rapper wannabe (Seth Green, whose title credit got applause from all the teen girls in the audience) and the pouty girl he's ignored since second grade (Lauren Ambrose); Mike's follow the leader jock pals and William the smart geek's (Charlie Korsmo) plan for revenge on Mike with the aid of his two X-Files T-shirted geek pals.

I have to summarize some of Morgan's critique, 'cuz I can barely read my own handwriting. If the ear to ear smile on her face was any indication, Can't Hardly Wait hits the bullseye for it's target. "The characters were just like real people, like kids I know. It's nice where there's a movie with no hero, like a superhero against a supervillain. Every character had a good story. I thought the camerawork was good and personally I thought the acting was perfect. I couldn't see them as any other people. They did their jobs well."

As for me, There were short periods of time where Cranky felt like an outsider staring at a party that he didn't want to be at. Very short periods. The movie is packed with TV star cameos by Jerry O'Connell, Melissa Joan Hart and Jenna Elfman on top of the teen fave raves in the cast and includes a very funny running gag about Barry Manilow and his dog. But nothing comes close to the geek's Guns 'n' Roses bit. It's the highlight of the flick.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Can't Hardly Wait, he would have paid...

$5.00 (with an asterisk)

Let us not forget that the perfect "8" rating goes to movies I know I'll want to see again. But I'm not the target here. Add a buck if you're in your 30s, two for you 20something GenX'ers and the full 8 bucks if your a teen. Morgan is heading back into the theater on opening day, and she's taking her mom.

Cranky could've used a large popcorn with extra golden goop. Can't Hardly Wait provided a real good time.


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