Unlike many of my friends, I've always been lukewarm about the beloved teen movie Can't Hardly Wait. I don't know if it's because I was experiencing teen-movie overload in the late '90s or what, but I've always just been "meh" about the movie. Because of my unpopular opinion, I decided to rewatch Can't Hardly Wait as an adult to see just what my 17-year-old self was missing. And it was definitely a lot, because now I totally have a new appreciation for the movie.
Being so removed from high school, I really love watching teen movies (and listening to their soundtracks) for the nostalgia factor — and Can't Hardly Wait certainly delivers. For those of you who may need a refresher, most of the 1998 movie takes place at a wild graduation party, where Preston (Ethan Embry) has one last chance to tell his longtime crush Amanda (Jennifer Love Hewitt) how he feels about her, as well as so many other storylines about love, life, and adolescent mischief. Can't Hardly Wait is like who's who of the '90s, starring Embry, Hewitt, Peter Facinelli, Lauren Ambrose, Seth Green, Jerry O'Connell, Clea Duvall, and Melissa Joan Hart.
So, I gave the movie another go since I hadn't seen it since 1998. Here's what I noticed watching Can't Hardly Wait as an adult.
1. Denise & Kenny Got Into Great Schools Without Extracurriculars
I'm gonna be a little nitpicky here, because I'm a proud NYU alumna. Both NYU and UCLA are pretty damn good schools. They have high rankings, good reputations, and are pretty tough to get into.
So, in the era of high anxiety applicants, how on earth did Denise get into NYU with no activities and Kenny get into UCLA with only a JV Basketball game on his application? I mean, everyone I knew in college had mind-blowing extracirriculars, and some even had perfect SAT scores. My friends and I were huge nerds. These aren't safety schools we're talking about here. Perhaps their high school was just a really good feeder school that got students into good colleges without much effort?
2. Preston Has Such A Teen View On Fate
Preston's story about his "connection" meeting Amanda for the first time (a.k.a., his story of coincidences) is something I can appreciate more as an adult because it brings me back to those days when I thought coincidence really meant fate. That someone else eating Pop Tarts at the same exact time meant that we were forever linked — but really, it just means that Pop Tarts are delicious.
3. Mike Dexter Had The Right Idea
Mike decides to dump Amanda because he's excited to hook up with college chicks. While I don't approve of his bro attitude towards women, I think he's smart in ending high school romance now rather than during Thanksgiving break of freshman year, especially if he's not enthusiastic about Amanda anymore and more into, well, other things. I know Trip McNeely's advice at the end of the movie contradicts this, but I stand by it.
At 18, long-distance is tough and so is freshman year. In hindsight, I realize that transition is huge and some friends — and loves — from high school aren't meant to translate to college. (Sorry, Amanda.)
4. William's First Experience With Alcohol Is Pretty Accurate
William goes to the party to get revenge on Mike and winds up drinking beer for the first time. He spits it out due to the taste at first, and then spends some of the party acting, well, drunk off his butt.
5. Jason Segel Is In This Movie
Oh man. I'm pretty sure he's now currently the most famous person out of this cast.
6. Molly The Party Host Is Me Now
Molly goes around cleaning during the party, sniffing shoes for the source of poop, and finding something disgusting in the fridge. She's basically the paranoid mother of the party and that would totally be me now as an adult.
7. There's A Theme Of Staying The Same Vs. Moving Forward
It definitely takes some maturity before truly understanding this concept, but I like how the movie explores the theme of staying the same vs. moving forward and growing up.
Denise wants to move on from high school, but she gets sucked into appreciating those final days — and figuring out why she and Kenny stopped being friends. Amanda struggles with moving forward from being known merely as Mike Dexter's girlfriend. Preston has had his heart set on Amanda for four years, and doesn't want to move on. Mike's friends don't want to dump their girlfriends and move on as badly as Mike does.
This movie just got deep.
8. I Wonder How The Yearbook Girl Would Feel About Facebook
Hart's Yearbook Girl strives to get everyone's signatures and to get people to actually respect the book itself. I bet she must love Facebook stalking everyone she's ever met.