Netflix is doing its best to make sure subscribers to the world’s most popular streaming service ring in the New Year with a smile on their collective faces. Their plan is to reintroduce dozens of new movies to their streaming service, one being Can’t Hardly Wait, the 1998 movie that solidified Jennifer Love Hewitt as an up-and-coming star.
With its tag line: “Yesterday’s history. Tomorrow’s the future. Tonight’s the party,” Can’t Hardly Wait was an instant hit, bringing in over $25 million on its $10 million budget. “I remember thinking, ‘Wow, this is like our generation’s version of Pretty in Pink and Sixteen Candles and all of those iconic movies that you just love,’” Jennifer Love Hewitt told Entertainment Tonight.
The Jennifer Love Hewitt-starring movie was conceived by Harry Elfont and Deborah Kaplan, based on their observations that many of the high school teen movies produced had their best scenes taking place at the graduation parties. So, they figured, why not set an entire movie at a graduation party?
Jennifer Love Hewitt, who at the time was also starring in the hit series Party of Five, was the biggest name of the mostly unknown group of kids hired to play in the movie. She plays Amanda Beckett, the prom queen who is unceremoniously dumped by her jock boyfriend, Mike Dexter (Peter Facinelli) right before graduation. This announcement leaves most of the male seniors vying for Amanda’s attention.
The primary seeker of Amanda’s affection is Preston Meyers, played by Ethan Embry, who had had a crush on Jennifer Love Hewitt’s Amanda his entire four-year high school career. The movie also starred Seth Green, Lauren Ambrose, and Charlie Korsmo, while also boasting supporting roles which included Jerry O’Connell, Melissa Joan Hart, Breckin Meyer, Selma Blair, Jason Segel, and Jenna Elfman.
Jennifer Love Hewitt recalled the craziness of her schedule at the time of filming. “I filmed that at the same time that I was doing Party of Five,” Hewitt said to ET. “I would work all day at Party of Five and then I would go and I would film Can’t Hardly Wait. I remember being very tired.” But her schedule didn’t take away from the experience of filming with friends. “It was really fun, I got to be with Seth [Green] again, who I had known from doing stuff, and Breckin [Meyer] and everybody, it was just great.”
Jennifer Love Hewitt, while still on Party of Five, was also coming off modest success at the box office with the horror movie I Know What You Did Last Summer, so she was really beginning to get a foothold in Hollywood. Before those two projects, Hewitt was seen in TV shows such as Kids Incorporated, Shaky Ground, The Byrds of Paradise, and McKenna, while also grabbing bit parts in features such as Munchie, Running Wilde, Little Miss Millions, and Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit. Hewitt wasn’t an unknown when she took on Can’t Hardly Wait, but she hadn’t yet become a household name.
Her success with Can’t Hardly Wait propelled her into bigger projects and also boosted her musical career. By the time Can’t Hardly Wait premiered, Jennifer Love Hewitt already had three studio albums released to modest numbers. Those numbers ticked upward as her acting roles increased. Hewitt released one more album in 2002, titled BareNaked, before she decided to focus solely on her acting career.
To this day, Can’t Hardly Wait holds fond memories not only for Jennifer Love Hewitt but for another of her co-stars, Lauren Ambrose. “There are so many people that are in that movie, so many actors. Selma Blair was like an extra, and she’s amazing. The list is long of the people who have gone and had these great careers,” she said, adding, “It was like the second movie I was in so it was just amazing to see how it all worked and have all these young kids like in this big movie,” she also said to ET.
Today, Jennifer Love Hewitt can be seen in the hit series 9-1-1, which Hewitt finds to be a great fit for her. “It’s a perfect job for me to go into right now with my lifestyle as a mom to be able to work in LA, to be able to dip in and dip out and have it be an ensemble, it’s a great experience.” So, while Hewitt fans have 9-1-1 on a weekly basis to look forward to, they also have the upcoming January 1, 2021 rerelease of Can’t Hardly Wait on Netflix to check out.