Shakespeare gets a contemporary workout in this enjoyable teen
comedy which has broad audience appeal. Essentially a modern version
of The Taming Of The Shrew set in a Seattle high school, 10 Things I
Hate About You uses the broad threads of the play to explore more
relevant themes and issues.
The shy Cameron (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, from popular tv sitcom
Third Rock From The Sun, etc) wants to date the beautiful and popular
Bianca Stafford (Larisa Oleynik). The stumbling block is her older,
shrewish sister Katrina (Julia Stiles), who loves death metal, the
morbid poetry of Sylvia Plath, and whose sharp tongue drives away any
boy who shows even the slightest interest in her. The girls' single
father (Larry Miller) constantly worries about his two daughters, and
forbids Bianca to go on a date unless Katrina also has a date.
Cameron is faced with the impossible mission of trying to coerce
someone to go out on a date with Katrina.
The answer to his dilemma lies in Patrick (played by Aussie
actor Heath Ledger, best known for his role in the short-lived series
Roar), the new boy in school. Patrick has a reputation as a wild man
and is dogged by rumours about a dark past, all of which makes him
perfect for the challenge. Cameron somehow has to persuade Patrick to
date Bianca. Enter narcissistic and smarmy rich boy Joey Donner
(Andrew Keegan, from Independence Day, etc) to further confuse the
mix, and the scene is set for the typical showdown during the school
With its exploration of the cut throat world of high school
politics et al, the film ventures into familiar territory (most
recently She's All That, Jawbreaker, etc). However, the script from
first time writers Karen McCullah Lutz and Kristen Smith is smart and
witty, and puts a fresh spin on some familiar and tired clichés.
Although some of the key plot developments may be fairly predictable,
10 Things I Hate About You sustains the interest, and is surprisingly
entertaining for this over done genre.
Director Gil Junger hails from a background in television, and
he knows how to milk the material for its humour. There are some
clever sight gags, and the smart, bitchy dialogue will appeal to
broader audiences as well. The performances of the young, largely
unknown cast are enthusiastic and bring these selfish and shallow
characters to life in likeable enough fashion.
Copyright © 1999 Greg King