Can’t Hardly Wait (1998)

An overlooked gem among a hundred cretinous teen-party comedies, in which another dozen or so easily recognizable high school types flounder their way through a single night of epiphany, melodrama, humiliation, socialization, and beer. The film’s pulsing, forgiving heart and sharp ear (courtesy of writer/director team Deborah Kaplan and Harry Elfont) are responsible for the movie’s distinction; the joyous chaos of teenage parties is not easy to depict, but this movie gets it—and celebrates it, with a title from an old Replacements song, no less. Jennifer Love Hewitt and Ethan Embry are the mismatched hottie and nerd, but funnier and more believable are Lauren Ambrose’s quasi-Goth cynic, Peter Facinelli’s monster jock, and Charlie Korsmo’s ultrageek.

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