|10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU (1999)|
Susan May Pratt
|"Has the fact that you're completely psycho managed to escape your attention?"|
|Time: 97 mins.|
Genre: Comedy/Romance/High School
I don't normally watch teen romantic comedies anymore because I'm old enough to not care about high school and they are all pretty much the same awful drivel. Loser boy/girl gets makeover to impress prom queen/football captain but in the end falls in love with the uncool, sweet person who helped them land the date with the vapid jerk/bitch in the first place. What intrigued me about 10 THINGS was the fact that this was supposed to be an updated rendition of Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew, so I figured it might have a little more to say on the topic of teen angst and true love. Though it does include the above-mentioned clichéd plot, the twist is that the main love story focuses on two people so right for each other, yet completely blind to that fact, who eventually fall in love. Again nothing completely new, but the chemistry and charisma of both Julia Stiles and Heath Ledger more than make up for the lack of originality. I was actually pleasantly surprised by how sweet and funny this film is. Of course, good acting goes a long way and these two leads are bound to be around for a good long time.
The plot hinges on the fact that Kat (Stiles) and Bianca (Oleynik) Stratford are not allowed to date. Kat used to be popular, but is now the scourge of the school, alienating everyone with her heinous behavior, much to the dismay of her younger, now popular sister. Cameron (Gordon-Levitt), the new kid in school, falls immediately for Bianca and with the help of Michael (Eckman) hatches a plan that just might get him a date with his new love. They know that Joey (Keegan), the school's rich, brainless stud, is also desperate to "date" Bianca so they suggest to him that he hire Patrick Verona (Ledger), Kat's male alter ego at the school, to woo Kat, thereby allowing Bianca to date as well. Patrick's the perfect choice because he not only needs the cash, but he's the only one crazy enough to want to be in the same room with Kat. The course of true love is never smooth, though Patrick has some moves that begin to change Kat's attitude about dating. They quickly strike up a tentative friendship.
Meanwhile, Cameron is laying the groundwork with Bianca by becoming her French tutor and lending her an ear to complain to. Kat soon begins to fall for Patrick, who feels the same way, but can't renege on his deal with Joey. Bianca likes spending time with Cameron, however, he's not part of the cool crowd, so she goes against her better instincts and dates Joey, whom she quickly realizes has nothing interesting to offer. After a wonderful day of hookie, Kat and Patrick affirm their feelings with a lot of kissing. Even though going to the prom is against her better judgement, Kat agrees to go with Patrick so that Bianca can go with Cameron. Joey, who believes he was the one taking Bianca, causes problems for both couples at the dance, exposing the deal to everyone at the school. Fortunately, these ladies are smarter and stronger than they're given credit for and Joey gets what he justly deserves. Kat tries to hate Patrick for lying to her and taking money to date her, but knows in her heart that despite the deception he really does care for her. In the end, both couples find their perfect love, even though their behavior was far from admirable.
This may seem like a story you've heard before because it is. I have no idea how many times Shakespeare's play has been used as a backdrop for a film, but I'm pretty sure given a decent cast, the final product is always enjoyable. 10 THINGS works because of wonderful casting, great music and insightful, amusing dialogue. They even infuse the film with some Shakespeare as an homage to the original material. It has it's gross, teen moments, but for the most part this is a fairly honest depiction of the world as a teenager. The cliques, the trepidation, the emotions, this film finely weaves this world of angst into a very watchable romance. Ledger and Stiles, though both attractive in their own ways, aren't your typical teen stars. They bring an honesty and edginess to the film that carries the lightweight material a long way. They are also both very funny and unafraid to look silly. Gordon-Levitt and Oleynik are the shiny, happy, cute ones next to this wild couple, but they are still able to hold your attention. Larry Miller is great as the girls' paranoid OB-GYN father, who is terrified his daughters are going to get pregnant.
10 THINGS is a wonderful romantic comedy that I look forward to seeing again. It is certainly the best of the recent teen pics and one to check out if you're in the mood for love and a quick laugh. This film proves that updating a classic isn't necessarily a bad thing.