Film review: 10 Things I Hate About You (1999), directed by Gil Junger
Loosely based on Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, 10 Things I Hate About You is a romantic comedy about the Stratford sisters. Younger sister Bianca (Larisa Oleynik) wants to be popular, and she definitely wants to date boys. Older sister Kat (Julia Stiles) wants nothing to do with boys at all – in fact, they can go fuck themselves as far as she’s concerned. Their over-protective father (Larry Miller) has forbidden both of them from dating boys. That is, until he changes his mind and says Bianca can go on dates … if Kat does. As Kat is so vehemently against dating, he figures there’s no risk.
Meanwhile, school newcomer Cameron (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) instantly gets a crush on Bianca. How can he get to date her? By teaming up with his friend Michael (David Krumholz), and get the self-absorbed rich prick Joey (Andrew Keegan) to pay bad boy Patrick Verona (Heath Ledger) to go on a date with Kat. But will it work?
Also starring Gabrielle Union as Chastity, Susan May Pratt as Mandella, Allison Janney as Ms Perky (a guidance counsellor who writes smutty romance novels on her work computer), Daryl Mitchell as Mr Morgan and David Leisure as Mr Chapin.
Oh, this is very 1990s. There is plenty of music, but as I have no idea who the main band is – they show up three times to play live in the film so they’re obviously important – it gets a little lost. Who were around in the late 1990s? Well, I came to the conclusion that it’s not No Doubt, at any rate. But it does seem like this film is very much a product of its time.
Kat is the stereotypical rebel chick, who reads Sylvia Plath and books about feminism, and her sister is the stereotypical preppy chick, who just wants to be popular. What’s interesting is that Patrick Verona, the paid off love interest, is allowed to keep some sort of Aussie accent (explained by having been raised there until the age of ten) – and for some reason, he has a crazy bad boy reputation. He doesn’t just smoke, he has done all sorts of crazy things! Except they are just rumours.
Predictability is high. It’s inevitable that the boy paid to date a girl ends up having feelings for her. I’m not really familiar with the Shakespeare story, having only ever encountered it as an episode of ShakespeaRetold, so I can’t comment on how true this film is to the story it was based on.
The biggest problem is probably that it’s difficult to know who you’re supposed to like. Cameron was a nice boy, and Patrick has many redeeming qualities … but the girls? The “shrew”, Kat, I could relate to more easily than the shallow Bianca, but like her? I’m not sure. She seemed a bit too much of a stereotype.
Oh well. One should not take these sort of things too seriously. It’s meant to be a fairly light-weight romantic comedy for and about teenagers. And as such, it works beautifully. It’s entertaining, cute, and has lots of 90s music.
3.5 out of 5 knocks on the door. Must be Nigel with the Brie.