10 Things I Hate About You (1999)

This is another re-posting of an older review with a couple changes, namely that Heath Ledger won an Oscar posthumously for his portrayal of The Joker in The Dark Knight, and I actually downgraded the movie from 3.5 to 3.  Read on if you like!

If you happen to sit down and watch 10 Things I Hate About You and think to yourself “Self, this movie kinda feels like a PG-13 high school sitcom on the Family Channel,” you wouldn’t be at all surprised at the director’s previous credits. Gil Junger’s career has mostly been limited to almost laughably bad sitcom fare, this movie, and Black Knight. Therefore, without having even seen Martin Lawrence Goes Medieval, I will crown 10 Things Junger’s best movie to date. A modern take on William Shakespeare’s “The Taming of The Shrew”, this movie features a cast of up-and-coming Hollywood youngsters, as well as solid comedy vets to keep them anchored.

If you’ve never experienced Shakespeare’s “Shrew”, well you’re in for a rollicking fun time filled with drunken high school parties, alternative grrl-rock, and a bunch of other stuff the Bard had no idea would ever exist. Well, it’s pretty much like what I know of Shakespeare’s catalog: ridiculous situations, humourous observations, star-crossed young lovers that can’t be together for some reason, that sort of thing. It’s no Much Ado About Nothing, but it does the job when it comes to entertaining me for an hour and a half.

The two romantic leads – Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles – have gone on to become quite talented actors, with Ledger even being nominated for a Best Actor Oscar for his performance in Brokeback Mountain (and winning one for The Dark Knight). Even back in 1999, you could tell that both of them had a gift for their craft, or at least knew how to accentuate their positives. Ledger is charming as Patrick Verona, the high school bad ass that nobody seems to know anything about, just as Stiles is convincing as the abrasive and opinionated “heinous bitch” Kat Stratford. They also exhibit an excellent chemistry between one another, one that should have been envied by the other two romantic leads, Cameron (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and the super cute Bianca (Larisa Oleynik). It’s not that those two are terrible together, it’s just that it’s not nearly as convincing, what with Cameron’s puppy dog affections and Bianca’s desire to be with the vapid stud Joey (Andrew Keegan).

It’s mostly a decidedly average movie, what with pretty much every high school movie cliche in the history of film being used. What pushes it above the level of forgetable teen comedy is the main cast, the interesting premise, and everyone involved in the movie “getting it”. What other movie has a horny, smack-talking guidance counsellor like Allison Janney’s Ms. Perky? Larry Miller is also at his dry-delivery best as the father of the Stratford sisters, horrified that one of them will get all knocked up at some high school orgy. Plus, David Krumholtz playing Jeremy Piven to Gordon-Levitt’s Cusack. Surprisingly better than I ever thought it could be.

3 / 5


About SkoochXC
Long-time blogger, Canadian, cine-snark-aphile, Tweeter and generally lonely hearted guy.

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