10 Things I Hate About You is a 1999 American teen romantic comedy film. It is directed by Gil Junger and stars Julia Stiles and Heath Ledger. The screenplay was written by Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith. The film, a modernization of Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew, is titled after a poem written by the film's female lead (Stiles) to describe her bittersweet romance with the male lead (Ledger). The film was released March 31, 1999, and it was a breakout success for stars Stiles and Ledger. The film marks the motion picture directing debut of Junger, who previously directed only for television. Cameron James (Gordon-Levitt), a new student at Padua Stadium High School, is given a tour of the school by Michael Eckman (Krumholtz), an A.V. geek. During the tour, Cameron notices the beautiful and popular Bianca Stratford (Oleynik) and he is immediately smitten with her. Michael warns Cameron that Bianca is shallow and conceited, and that her father does not allow her to date. However, Michael does inform Cameron that Bianca is looking for a French tutor.
Boy meets girl. Another boy bets boy he can’t score with girl. Boy pays third boy to try to loosen up girl’s sister so he can get girl. Serious themes that haven’t been explored since… well… since She’s All That.
At least 10 Things I Hate About You has one hell of a good title. I give it points for that alone. And while this updating of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew is clever and funny at times, much of the film is just not entertaining due to bad directing by way-out-of-his-element first-timer Gil Junger.
In this retelling, we find Cameron (Gordon-Levitt) falling for Bianca (Oleynik), the prettiest girl in all the land. But dad (Miller) won’t let Bianca date until her older sister does! Too bad sister Kat (Stiles) is a, ahem, a shrew. Whereupon Cameron launches a plan to manipulate a half-dozen or so people such that Kat and brooding outcast Patrick (Ledger) are a cozy couple.
Unfortunately, much of this potentially good material is paced like a bad sitcom. And never have I seen a movie so desperate for a laugh track. Turns out Junger directed the ‘coming out’ episode of Ellen, and even worked on the series Blossom. Well, you can draw your own conclusions from that.
There’s fortunately some good comic relief in this flick, mostly from the adults. Larry Miller, in particular, deserves some kind of award for having me crack up repeatedly. And Mitchell’s English teacher proves that, yes, there is life beyond Veronica’s Closet. Also of note is a good pop score punctuated by personal faves Letters to Cleo and Save Ferris.
Too bad a generally good cast is largely wasted otherwise. And parents: PG-13 is a very generous rating. You’ve been warned.
And a final word: stay for the blooper reel during the credits. It’s the best part of the film.
Throw the book at ‘er.