10 Things I Hate About You is a Teen Romantic Comedy, which was originally released in 1999, and was directed by Gil Junger. The screenplay was written by Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith and has a running time of 99 minutes. The movie has a cast of Julia Stiles, Heath Ledger, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Larisa Oleynik, Larry Miller, Andrew Keegan, Gabrielle Union, David Krumholtz and Susan May Pratt. This is Number Ten in the ‘500 Films A Year Challenge’.
I remember viewing this movie about eight years ago, and was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. It seems a stronger example of a teenage film, many teenage films nowadays seem to be mean “Crappy Romance”, whereas this challenged itself, akin to Baz Lurhmann, by taking a classic story and offering a contemporary version. Due to not having seen it for so long, I decided to give it a rewatch, on the 5th January.
The opening act does an awesome job setting up the premise, as well as the characters and their motivations. Patrick (Ledger), the outsider, is introduced in the Principal’s office supposedly having flashed at the dinnerlady; Kat (Stiles), the proud social outcast, is introduced listening to “Bad Reputation” by Joan Jett; Cameron (Gordon-Levitt), the sweet & delicate protagonist, who is bemused by the Principal’s eccentricities; Bianca (Oleynik), the ‘valley girl’ beauty, is discussing how she ‘likes her shoes, loves her bag’; Michael (Krumholtz), Cameron’s geeky friend, taking Cameron around school; Joey Donner (Keegan), the asshole, male model antagonist, looking down on the others; and finally, Dr Walter Stratford (Miller), who sparks off the premise by refusing to allow Bianca date until her anti-social sister, Kat, dates first. The tone of the movie is set with these introductions, the self-deprecating humor replicating the characteristics of our cast.
The strength of the movie is dependent on a strongly written script that encompasses the best elements of Shakespeare, and couples it with a cast that has legitimate chemistry together. Whether it’s Gordon-Levitt and Krumholtz, Ledger and Stiles, Miller with Oleynik and Stiles, or any of the cast, the dialogue flies between them. Ledger demonstrates wonderful charm and charisma to entice the audience into liking him, even despite his actions, Stiles has punk and enough attitude to enforce the character, but not alienate the audience, and Gordon-Levitt has a shy nature that makes him adorable for the audience to like. Several scenes, including Ledger’s infamous live performance of “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You”, has spirit for the audience to invest into, and the protagonists have a wonderful zest which intensifies the joy of the comedy. Even Bianca, the role that could have been the most underwheling, has a surprising warmth and sudden depth that appears in the latter half of the movie.
Teenage Romantic comedies can be very hit and miss, but this is a rare example of the strengths of a romantic comedy being transferred to a tennage setting but without forfeiting on the adult emotions and relations. I much prefer comedy that builds upon the characters, such as this film, for a comedy, it has a surprising depth and emotion for the audience, whilst as a romance, it is very funny. I really enjoyed this movie, and would gladly recommend it for anybody who enjoys comedies or romances.
Thumbs Up, 8 out of 10.
Next up, I give Michael Winterbottom another chance to impress me…