Can't Hardly Wait [1998]

This underrated teen comedy from 1998 is guilty of being a proud underachiever, and it doesn't bring anything new to the genre, but look closely and you'll find the makings of a much better movie buried under all the keg-party antics. The basic story is typical for this kind of comedy. A young, aspiring writer named Preston (Ethan Embry) has been lusting after class beauty Amanda (Jennifer Love Hewitt, from TV's Party of Five) for four years of high school, but he's never had the nerve to tell her. Now that they're about to graduate he's finally worked up the courage to write her a soul-baring love letter. At the raucous graduation keg party that takes up most of the movie's 98 minutes, Preston agonizes while Amanda's selfish jock ex-boyfriend tries to win her back, and delivering his love letter turns out to be more difficult than he ever imagined. What's interesting about Can't Hardly Wait has little to do with its attractive leads, however. The most engagingly real and entertaining characters are the misfits who show up in the subplots, including a geek (Charlie Korsmo) who turns into the life of the party, and a pair of old friends (Seth Green, Lauren Ambrose) who confront each other about their mutual needs and insecurities. There are some really good scenes between these two, and this modest movie has a few other pleasant surprises up its sleeve. That doesn't make it particularly good, but it does make it an agreeable waste of time. --Jeff Shannon

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