10 Things I’ve Learned From “Can’t Hardly Wait”

You guys want to know what movie I COULD NOT HARDLY WAIT TO WRITE ABOUT? (Eh? Eh?!) Space Jam. But I wrote about that two weeks ago, so here we are now.

Anyway, if you want to talk about getting embarrassed (which I want to talk about all the time), the fact that I’ve waited this long to write about a movie that totally embodies the end of high school will do the trick. In fact, I didn’t even see this movie when it came out because I was 12 and my idea of a party was the one I went to in the boy-I-liked’s basement, fully supervised by parents, and fully supplied with pop and chips. So, the opposite of what Can’t Hardly Wait is about.

But now I’m an adult. Now I get it. Now I know that you eventually hit an age where you put your life’s destiny into one night and hope that this night, with its debauchery and madness will deliver the person you like, aaaaand I mean, isn’t that what this movie’s all about, anyway? Especially pre-Facebook? I mean, now, Ethan Embry wouldn’t worry about trying to make anything happen with Jennifer Love Hewitt because he’d be all, “Oh I’m just going to send her a Facebook message tomorrow.” But in the ’90s? In the ’90s, you guys, I spent the summer after that party crying to BSB’s “I Need You Tonight” because I danced with that boy to that song and I MISSED HIM.

So with that story and memory fresh in our minds, let us begin! Here’s what I learned:

1. If you put pressure on any specific date, it will never be as good as you want it to be

Never ever, just like the All Saints song. It will never be as good as you want it to be, you will never have as much fun as you think you will, and something will happen at some point to remind you that it is just a regular night, and that’s the way it is. I KNOW, I know. I’m the worst. But in my defense, we’ve all gone through this, and we’re all nodding over this harsh truth. Enter: New Year’s. The night in which we amp ourselves up and then go somewhere and realize MEH it’s a night in December, and that’s about it. But—BUT!—the nights you waltz into a situation thinking, “Heyyy it’ll be fine, I’m sure, but no pressure?” THOSE are the nights that become the stuff of legend. This is why Ethan Embry’s night isn’t as great as it could’ve been.

2. It is very weird that Ethan Embry wants to declare his love to Jennifer Love Hewitt in the first place

And I’m not saying this because I have anything against Ethan Embry, the human and actor, who I was CONVINCED I would marry after a ’94 viewing of All I Want For Christmas. I’m saying this about his character (Preston) who is going to declare his love to Jennifer Love Hewitt despite NEVER HAVING SPOKEN TO HER. Nope. Nope! Too much. Can you imagine that happening to you? “Hello [name], I know we’ve never spoken, but I love you.” Oh boy. I’ll pass, thank you. “Please do not project your fantasies about who you think I am,” I would say. This is a total line-cross situation, and what Ethan Embry should’ve been trying to do is have, well, a conversation. Just one. From one human to another.

3. Denise and Seth Green getting locked in the bathroom would never have happened if cell phones existed

Right?! That’s a life lesson right there: this movie plotline would’ve been impossible if technology existed the way it does now. Now, you’d send a text: “Dude, I’m locked in the bathroom.” Then you would be let out of the bathroom. That’s how that subplot would go. And maybe Denise and Seth Green would rekindle their friendship, but probably not because they’d be tweeting about how weird it was to be locked in someone’s bathroom/the shoddy workmanship of said bathroom. OR they would become friends, but that’s it because they’d be out of the bathroom by the time, “Hey, I’m sorry we drifted apart” happened.

Guys, is this why we like the ’90s so much? So much potential for anything to happen.

4. Jennifer Love Hewitt loved movies about letters and notes in the 1990s

She loved them. Last week, we recalled the simple but effective message, “I know what you did last summer.” This week, we bask in the warm glow of Jennifer Love Hewitt finding a letter from Ethan Embry and making it her own mission to find him. And honestly, she should have said to Ethan Embry’s character, “WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR, HUH?” Because seriously, dude, FOUR YEARS? She’s a person, guy! Not some manic pixie dream girl! SHE’S MORE THAN MIKE DEXTER’S GIRLFRIEND.

5. She IS more than Mike Dexter’s girlfriend

Can you believe that, though? First, JLH’s friends barely console her after she’s been dumped by Mike Dexter (I wish it was the astronaut, but sadly, it is NOT), and then her cousin hits on her because #male #entitlement, it seems. So basically, Jennifer Love Hewitt finds out on the last day of high school that her high school legacy is ‘that girl who dated that guy.’ And that guy was THE WORST.

If we could relay our own notes to her, though, we’d automatically be better friends than her basic posse. Here’s what the notes would say: Dear Jennifer Love Hewitt, we all date garbage people in high school, and most of them are the worst, so don’t worry—all of this is just fuel for when you tell these stories to your adult friends when you grow up.

6. Jerry O’Connell is right: guys like Mike Dexter really are a dime a dozen in college (and in life)

Remember when you first saw this movie and thought, “Oh, I hope that’s true. I hope Jerry O’Connell is right when he says that guys like Mike are a dime a dozen and should be so lucky to be dating their awesome girlfriends? And then do you remember right now when you realize how TRUE AND REAL that message is? Think of all the garbage people out there! SO MANY! And so many horrible, demeaning, patriarchal guys who treat women like accessories vs. people. “But, Anne!” you protest. “They’re in relationships, I swear!” And to that I say GOOD. Those guys being in relationships means they usually won’t be bothering us. (But then to that I also say: “OH NO. Girls, get out. Get out!”)

7. 21 Jump Street is actually what would’ve happened if Mike Dexter and William stayed friends

Remember how Channing Tatum made fun of Jonah Hill in the beginning of 21 Jump Street? (Of course you do— you’re a gem and a scholar.) Right, well in Can’t Hardly Wait, William gets drunk, gets an apology from Mike, who bullied him all through high school, and the two party all night. It’s wonderful! It’s the stuff of dreams! That is, until William sees Mike the next morning at a diner and Mike pretends it never happened and goes back to being THE WORST. Basically what I’m saying is this would’ve been better if they’d joined the police academy together and solved crimes while posing as high school students. That’s all I’m saying.

8. Movies like Can’t Hardly Wait have ruined train stations, airports, etc. for me

Because I always expect—even if it would not fit into my actual life in the slightest—to turn around and see some guy I like there saying, “No! I love you! I forgot to tell you!.” Here’s what I would say: “Listen, I’m sorry, Michael Fassbender, but you don’t really know me that well, so let’s start off as friends, shall we?” Or if you don’t like him, we can roll with Tom Hiddleston, too. That’s fine. All I’m saying is that places of transportation are totally magical in movies, and in real life, they’re where I worry the airline is going to lose my bag. And it’s all Can’t Hardly Wait’s fault.

9. The soundtrack is completely underrated, and that is the harshest lesson I’ve learned yet

How do we not sing the praises of the Can’t Hardly Wait soundtrack EVERY DAY. Run D.M.C. is on it, guys. RUN. D.M.C. “Paradise City.” “Dammit.” Smash Mouth, even, because it was a law in the ’90s that if you made a movie, Smash Mouth 100% had to appear on your soundtrack. You want nostalgia? You’ve got nostalgia. And man, now The Replacements are playing, and somebody give me 1000 words to apologize to everyone for not recognizing this soundtrack when I originally had the chance.

10. Every movie in the world is better with “where are they now” at the end

Because I NEED IT. I need the closure. I need to know that Jennifer Love Hewitt and Ethan Embry wrote each other letters every day. (I hope to God one was “I know what you did last summer.”) I need to know that Amanda and Seth Green are dating, and that Mike works at a car wash, and that . . . well, I didn’t need to know that William’s friends were abducted by aliens, but I do need to know that William went on to fund Facebook, probably. (Though I will say, why does it matter if he’s dating a supermodel? WHY DO YOU NEED TO INCLUDE THAT, MOVIE. We get it. He’s successful. Let’s not make him the Wolf of Wall Street.)

Now who wants to throw a big year-end party? WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR, HUH?

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