Set in the fictional Padua High School (and filmed in handsome locations in Seattle and Tacoma), “10 Things I Hate About You” deliriously hurls us into a single-minded teen milieu, creating a definite look, code of manners and witty jargon that encloses us in a strictly contemporary world. It’s Shakespeare by way of “Dawson’s Creek,” and it’s engaging fun.
Padua High is the home-away-from-home for the cheerily popular Bianca, one of two Stratford sisters around which Junger’s action swirls. Bianca (played by Larisa Oleynik) is one of the most popular girls in school, but her style is being cramped by her doctor-father (Larry Miller) and her sister Kat (beguiling Julia Stiles), a budding feminist not into the usual teen mind-set.
The no-nonsense Kat refuses to massage the egos of the guys who attend Padua and, consequently, has acquired a reputation of being, well, a shrew. All Kat wants to do is graduate from Padua so she can get on with her life — which means moving away and attending Sarah Lawrence College.
The fact that Kat (this film’s Katherine, but here the name is short for Katarina) refuses to date gives their father a reason to forbid the avid Bianca from dating. Mr. Stratford makes a dictim: Bianca can go out with boys only if Kat does, too — which is unlikely to happen.
This inspires Bianca to become involved in a convoluted plan to get Kat interested in a guy. Caught up in this plan is Joey Donner (Andrew Keegan), Padua’s self-proclaimed lothario, who wants to add Bianca to his list of scores, and Cameron James (Joseph-Gordon Levitt), who also wants to date Bianca and agrees to help Joey in his plan. Cameron and his friend Michael (David Krumholtz) bet Joey that they can find the perfect match for Kat.
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The surly Patrick Verona (Heath Ledger), the film’s Petruchio figure, is bribed to woo Kat and win her affections. If he succeeds, that will leave Bianca available for either Joey or Cameron — whoever gets there first.
There are a few adults here. In addition to Miller, who is quite funny as a father trying to control an uncontrollable situation, David Leisure plays a teacher who rather greedily confiscates one student’s bag of pot and another’s bag of chips (making it clear that he has plans for both).
Also featured is Broadway’s priceless Allison Janney as the school’s irreverent guidance counselor who, inspired by Padua’s young hunks, spends her time writing sexed-up romance novels.
But this is strictly a teen world, and “10 Things I Hate About You” is fortunate to have a bunch of budding “http://www.sacbee.com/leisure/themovieclub/spotlight/pfeiffer/pfeiffer.html”s, “http://www.sacbee.com/leisure/themovieclub/spotlight/sarandon/sarandon.html”s and Kevin Klines in its cast.
The resplendent Stiles — who will be seen in two more teen-oriented adaptations of Shakespeare plays (as Ophelia in “Hamlet” opposite “http://www.sacbee.com/leisure/themovieclub/spotlight/hawke/hawke.html”, and in “O,” a version of “Othello”) — takes top honors as Kat. She’s both entirely likable and entirely believable in the role.
Her poise is awesome.
And Ledger, who is from Perth, Australia, brings just the right balance of braggadocio and sensitivity to his Patrick Verona. The topping to his performance is an unexpected musical number in which he serenades Stiles with “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” along the school bleachers, the way “http://www.sacbee.com/leisure/themovieclub/spotlight/travolta/travolta.html” did in “Grease” (1978), mixing in a little Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly for good measure. It has the casual air of a guy goofing off.
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Oleynik is like a found object here, while Keegan, Levitt and Krumholtz, along with Gabrielle Union and Susan May Pratt, all have moments in which they shine.
With kids like these in films today, Pfeiffer, Sarandon and Kline will have to watch out.
Without mincing any words, their movie is really rad.
The Stratford girl’s are as different as night and day. Bianca (Larisa Oleynik), sweet, simple, popular and desperate to date; Kat (Julia Stiles), antisocial, antiestablishment, antiauthoritarian, and determined to avoid the opposite sex. Dr. Stratford (Larry Miller) is positively opposed to either girls’ participation in the prom and comes up with a solution for Bianca’s problem and his… Bianca can date when Kat does! Enter Patrick Verona (Heath Ledger), Cameron James (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and crew with a devious plan to capture the heart of a shrew.
A clever update of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, 10 Things I Hate About You combines subtle allusions to the Bard in a modern medium. I love the occasional dialogue throw backs to the original “Shrew” (“I burn, I pine, I perish”).
I was pleased with the sharp performances of the young actors and actresses, who handled the complexity of characters in Shakespeare’s plot with amazing ease. A well done film.
Ten Things I Hate About You is rated PG-13 for crude sex related humor and dialogue and alcohol and drug related scenes. Rightly so. There is quite a bit of innuendo throughout the movie, most of which a Christian audience will find unnecessary. Although no racier than Shakespeare’s original (albeit a bit more blatant), Ten Things does have enough sexual content to justify a warning. Parents with teenagers could use Kat’s comments about her sexual experiences being a negative result of peer pressure as a launching point to discuss a difficult topic. Furthermore, Dr. Stratford’s ignorance is bliss; yet, still ignorance and, as Christian parents, we cannot ignore the fact that teenage pregnancy is virtually the same in the finds herself as the object of two boys’ affections: cool, vain Joey Donner (Andrew Keegan) and kind, somewhat shy Cameron James (Joseph Gordon-Levitt).
Working as reluctant allies, Joey and Cameron pick out a potential date for Kat: Patrick Verona (Heath Ledger), the local bad boy. They reason that Kat might find him too great a challenge to refuse, and, once she starts going out with him, Bianca will be free to date one of them. But getting Kat and Patrick together proves to be a difficult chore, and, when he realizes that he genuinely likes her, Patrick must go to extraordinary lengths to tame the shrew.
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10 Things I Hate About You is top-heavy with the references to Shakespeare. The Bard’s sonnets are being taught in English class, so we get to hear bits and pieces of them. A couple of would-be lovebirds enjoy quoting from “Macbeth” and dressing like they belong in the 16th century. The school where most of the action transpires is called “Padua High.” The main characters have last names like “Verona” and “Stratford”, and their first names are variations of their “Taming” counterparts: Kate becomes Kat and Petruchio becomes Patrick. It’s not as clever as “../s/shakespeare.html”, but, as a way to sneak in literary asides, it works.
One of the most refreshing things about 10 Things I Hate About You is that it doesn’t feature the same tired faces that adorn every other movie of the genre (I’m speaking about the Jennifer Love Hewitts and Sarah Michelle Gellars).
No one in this film is a big star, but everyone is a capable actor. Julia Stiles (Wicked) is brilliant as the “tempestuous” Kat, whose sullenness hides a bubbling sensuality. She’s the film’s real standout, although she is almost matched by her dashing, romantic counterpart, Heath Ledger, with whom she shares an undeniable chemistry. Also solid are Larisa Oleynik as the pretty-but-petty Bianca and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the guy everyone hopes gets the girl. As Cameron’s best friend, David Krumholtz provides some comic relief, and Andrew Keegan is effective as the oily villain.
The dialogue in 10 Things I Hate About You is peppered with sexual references and double entendres. In fact, they’re so thick that I was surprised the film got away with a PG-13 rating. Kat has all of the best lines, and Stiles utters them with relish. Smart, sharp dialogue may not be the foundation of a good movie, but it certainly is a key ingredient, and one of the reasons why 10 Things I Hate About You succeeds. The comedy (and there’s plenty of it) is of the hit-and-miss variety, sometimes trying too hard to get laughs instead of letting them come naturally. Some of it (such as an English teacher’s treatment of his students) is genuinely funny, while other examples (the buffoonery of Kat and Bianca’s father) miss the mark by a wide margin.
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The love stories (there are two: Kat/Patrick and Bianca/Cameron) are frothy, although the plot is littered with the debris of several unfortunate romantic comedy devices. (For example, Patrick asks Kat to the prom because Joey pays him $300 to do so and she inevitably discovers this in a contrived manner.) However, if we accept that these elements are a necessary part of the genre, then 10 Things I Hate About You ranks as one of the strongest entries in the recent wave of teen-oriented films – a pleasant blend of Shakespeare and John Hughes. That makes it an entertaining option with appeal for more than just kids.