Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Movie Review: "10 Things I Hate About You" (1999)

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Movie"10 Things I Hate About You"
Director: Gil Junger
Year: 1999
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 37 minutes

A high school sophomore named Bianca (Larisa Oleynik) wants nothing more than to have a normal high school life and go on dates, but her overprotective father Walter (Larry Miller) won't let her, as he is a doctor in a maternity ward and has delivered too many babies of teen mothers to let her. After some convincing, he makes a deal with Bianca that she can start dating when her older sister Kat (Julia Stiles) starts dating. The only problem is Kat is a free-thinking  feminist and strong-willed woman with an abrasive attitude and a low tolerance for most the immature antics of the boys at their school. This means the odds of her ever accepting a date are extremely low. When Cameron (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), the new kid at school who has a crush on Bianca. hears of the deal, he and his friend Michael (David Krumholtz) devise a plan to convince the school bad boy Patrick Verona (Heath Ledger) to try and take Kat out on a date. 

Director Gil Junger re-imagines William Shakespeare's "The Taming of the Shrew" into a modern high school teen comedy in "10 Things I Hate About You." Adapting Shakespeare and other literary classics into modern re-tellings is nothing new, from 1961's "West Side Story" to 2006's "She's the Man" with so many in between. Hollywood will never stop finding new ways to tell old stories, only this time, it doesn't completely suck. Julia Stiles takes the role of Kat Stratford, a high school senior with strong feminist ideals who isn't afraid to speak her mind and is into the riot grrrl rock scene. Many of the male characters in this film, including Kat's teacher, often attribute her attitude to her having PMS or just her being a flat out bitch, which is a little annoying and condescending. She is often sent to the office by this same teacher any time she has the gall to create a discussion or debate with a feminist or female-centered point of view. These comments, though meant as a joke, are cringe-worthy, but considering the film is based on one of the most misogynistic plays ever, it would be hard to wipe all traces of it from the final product and were clearly and intentionally left in the film. Heath Ledger, rest in peace my sweet prince, takes the part of Patrick Verona, Kat's would-be love interest, who in typical teen rom-com style is paid to ask Kat out, only to actually grow to love her. Even back in the 90's, you could tell Heath was destined for greater things with his undeniable charm and talent. He brings these qualities to the character of Patrick and you can't help but like him, from shy glances and a twinkling eye to his hilarious annoyed or shocked facial expressions and reactions. He and Stiles have a good dynamic and chemistry and you could easily buy them as a couple. They are way more believable than with most teenage rom-coms of yore. Ledger is the yin to Stiles' yan. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Cameron, an awkward kind of lovable new kid who falls for Bianca, played coyly by Larisa Oleynik, at first sight. He's the underdog nice guy character that we all get to root for against the rich jerk of a jock named Joey Donnar, who mainly wants Bianca as nothing more than a physical conquest. Though Cameron and his friend Michael, played by David Krumholtz, manipulate both Joey and Patrick and cause a lot of grief just so Cameron could have a shot at Bianca, we're not sure how much of a nice guy he is in reality, or maybe he's just ridiculously naive. We ultimately forgive him, though, because Joey is a class-A asshole who only cares about himself; plus, Patrick and Kat are obviously destined to be together, so in a way, his initial douchebag move made a pretty sweet romance.

"10 Things I Hate About You" is and always will be one of my favorite guilty pleasure movies. I have loved it since I was a teenager, and now as an adult, I have been able to come to appreciate it all the more and pick up on things I didn't fully comprehend as a kid. The fact that Kat is basically me in that we both think the same way and are both strong, independent, feminist-oriented women is pretty cool. In an effort to combine the modern with the classic, the filmmakers and script writers manage to maintain a certain level of old-school speaking that feels almost effortless and not misplaced, lifting exact phrases from "The Taming of the Shrew" in the middle of a sentence to off-set its modernity. Of the high school teen-centered romantic comedies, though relatively formulaic looking back on the genre as a whole, this movie has managed to keep its charm, aided in large part by its strong performances, witty banter, kick ass soundtrack and hilarious quotables. It's just a shame we didn't get to see what else Heath Ledger had in store for us as an actor.

My Rating: 8/10
BigJ's Rating: 6.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 61%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!
One year ago, we were watching: "Fading Gigolo"

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