In Columbia Pictures' teen comedy "Can't Hardly Wait," an all-night graduation party becomes a raucous rite of passage, as sensitive romantics, would-be homeboys, geeks, jocks, and misunderstood dream girls find their true hearts faster than you can say "American Graffiti meets Clueless."
If the film, which opens Friday, is not on your list of summer must-sees, you're probably outside Hollywood's most hotly courted demographic: the teens and twentysomethings who turned low-budget fare like "Scream" and "I Know What You Did Last Summer" into blockbuster franchises. ("Can't Hardly Wait" cost a modest $10 million, and marks the directing debut of its writers, Deborah Kaplan and Harry Elfont.)
"Can't Hardly Wait" is more John Hughes than John Carpenter, but it does borrow a star from "I Know What You Did . . . "--Jennifer Love Hewitt, 19, who within a year has gone from sensitive TV actress ("Party of Five") to movie scream queen to budding mogul (she'll write, co-produce and star in the New Line comedy "Cupid's Love").
Recently, Hewitt and five of her "Can't Hardly Wait" co-stars teamed up poolside at Beverly Hills' Four Seasons Hotel, for a session that--like the party in the film--swung from chaos to moments of reflection, with questions answered by flying chips and unprintable can-you-top-this bons mots. ("Our last interviewer was so disheartened she said, 'I can't use any of this!"' beams one participant, Seth Green. "She finally left the room.')
FOR THE RECORD
Los Angeles Times Sunday June 14, 1998 Home Edition Calendar Page 87 Calendar Desk 2 inches; 40 words Type of Material: Correction
Film credits--In an article last Sunday about teen movies, Jennifer Love Hewitt was credited as being the writer (in addition to executive producer and star) of "Cupid's Love," her coming film for New Line. While the film is based on her original story idea, the writer is Steve Cohen.
Joining Hewitt: Ethan Embry, 20 ("That Thing You Do!"), whose wide-eyed energy, flying hands and high decibel laugh suggest a personality bolder than the lovesick high school grad he plays onscreen; Charlie Korsmo, 19, "Hook" and "Dick Tracy's" child star grown up to be "Can't's" vengeful science nerd (Korsmo is actually a 4.0 MIT physics major); Peter Facinelli, 23 ("Dancer, Texas"), a soft-spoken brunet with a Cruise-like grin, who plays the film's heavy--a dense high school football star; Lauren Ambrose, 20 ("In and Out"), an opera-singing redhead cast as Embry's pal; and Seth Green, 24, a diminutive wisecracker offscreen and on, best known for his work in "Austin Powers" (he was Dr. Evil's cranky son) and TV's "Buffy the Vampire Slayer."
Question: Jennifer, you just came from the set of "I Still Know What You Did Last Summer"--what torments were you going through?
Hewitt: I was being beaten in a rainstorm and dragged by my neck, getting bruises.
Korsmo: That's what happened to me last night, too! (Group laughs.) You better move the mike away from me.
Q: And Seth, you're shooting a movie ["Idle Hands"]--what were you doing?
Green: I'll show you, man. (reaches into bag)
Embry: He's got a tape of him and Pamela Lee.
(Green displays photo of him, zombie-white, a beer bottle jutting out of his forehead.)
Green: This is like the first five minutes of the movie.
(Hewitt tries on Green's purple-lensed sunglasses and starts giggling--a condition that continues for most of the interview.)
Q: I'm guessing you could relate a bit more to your characters in "Can't Hardly Wait."
Korsmo: The only character I identified with was Lauren's character. And I read for it!
Facinelli: A lot of teen movies dealing with teen love are sappy. This isn't sappy. It's great to put all these [characters] who barely talk to each other, throw them into a room and see what happens.
Ambrose: I was shocked that they could make the tone of the film work, because there's such broad comedy and real character stuff.
Q: I heard the movie went through some changes to get a PG-13 instead of an R.
Embry: There was a problem because everybody was walking around with alcohol in the movie. They could walk with it but when they were verbally acknowledging it, cheering it, that was bad.
Hewitt: [The MPAA's] big thing was, they wanted to give it an R because there was no parental unit at the party. Well, who would have a high school party and have your parents there?!
Facinelli: They had to cut out one character, Crying Drunk Girl, who was really funny--she was subtitled because she was talking gibberish, she was so drunk. Total ratings casualty.
Green: And now the pot brownies are just bad brownies . . . .
Ambrose: It makes no sense. No sense!
Facinelli: No, people get it. Some stuff was cut, but I don't think it hurt the movie.
Q: How much do you think movies are reflecting what teenagers really feel? It's certainly an audience Hollywood's going after . . . .
Green: It's a market that hasn't been tapped in a few years. There's a lot of kids now and they're hungry for it.
Ambrose: Well, duh! Who goes to movies? They can't go to bars. (laughter) I'm serious!
Green: You can only see "The English Patient" so many times before you wanna see a bunch of kids at a party.
Q: How much input did you have in the script?