10 Things I Hate About You

10 Things I Hate About YouStarring Julia Stiles, Heath Ledger, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Larisa Oleynik, Larry Miller, David Krumholtz, Allison Janney.
Written by Karen McCullah Lutz & Kirsten Smith.
Directed by Gil Junger.
1999; rated PG-13.

Grade: C+

Review by Jen Walker.

The title is misleading. 10 Things I Hate About You is not a mean-spirited movie. In fact, the title refers to a sweet, romantic moment in the film. I found the movie charming, despite some teen-movie cliches. I guess one would call it a guilty pleasure.

Very loosely based on Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew, this is the story of the Stratford sisters of Seattle. Bianca (Larisa Oleynik), a sophomore, is desired by every boy in school for her cute, cheery innocence. Kat (Julia Stiles), a senior, is feared for her scathing, militant feminist attitude. Cameron (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a new student, falls hard for Bianca. There's just one problem: Bianca's father won't let her date until her older sister does.Ledger, Janney and Stiles

And so begins Cameron's search for a boy who's fearsome, tough, crazy and (most importantly) broke enough to take out Kat. Patrick (Heath Ledger), a boy rumored to have once eaten a live duck (minus the bill and feet), is just the man he's looking for.

I fell for 10 Things because I fell for Heath Ledger's character, Patrick. I'm no teeny-bopper, but I can tell that he is, by definition, a hottie. Ledger and Stiles have a great chemistry--a pleasant combination of attraction and repulsion. Ledger plays Patrick with a mischievous air, and Stiles plays Kat with a self-aware, no-nonsense conceit. Together, they make their characters a formidable pair.

The rest of the cast, and therefore their characters, are nothing remarkable, with the exception of Krumholtz, who plays Cameron's nerdy friend, Michael. He has great comic timing. Although the young actors aren't prodigious, I can't say that any of them gave truly bad performances. That's saying something for a teen flick.

I hadn't planned on watching this movie, but then one of my employees at the video store told me that a great portion of it was filmed on the campus of her school, Tacoma's palacial Stadium High. I didn't expect much more than a cinematic travelogue of my hometown, but surprisingly, I enjoyed the whole movie. Larisa Oleynik

Some (definitely not all) of the dialogue is very witty and I found many of the peripheral characters amusing. Why is the girls' dad so uptight? It may have something to do with his occupation. Interested in a career as a writer of steamy, trashy romance novels? Ms. Perky, the guidance counselor, can point you in the right direction. Ever wonder what your teachers really think of you? Here's a guy who'll let you know.

The movie is rated PG-13, and I'd like to caution parents about three scenes that would be inappropriate for younger children.  The first involves a phallic symbol being drawn on a very unusual surface. The second is the obligatory house-party scene, in which tequila is consumed in mass quantities. The third features a female student flashing her breasts at a teacher. That one was the only scene I strongly disliked.

Like many a Shakespearian tale, there are a couple of minor characters and sub-plots that pop up in the third act, making you wonder, "Where the heck did that come from?"  But, in general, 10 Things I Hate About You is a cut above the standard fare currently being offered to teen audiences. It gets points in my book, simply because nobody gets hacked to pieces.

If you're in the mood for a very light romantic comedy, or if you just wish to enjoy the splendor of fabulous Pacific Northwest scenery, give this movie a try. Oh, and don't miss the outtakes during the credits.

Review © October 1999 by AboutFilm.Com and the author.
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