10 Things I Hate About You is one of the most iconic and beloved romantic comedies of all time. The film is a modern rendition of Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew. The film follows a whipishly intelligent and wholly non-suffering teenage girl who is uninterested in the trappings of conventional femininity. Her attitudes put her sister in a dilemma, however, when her father instates a rule: she can’t date until her sister does. The film stars Heath Ledger, Julia Stiles, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Larisa Oleynik, Alisson Janney, and David Krumholtz among others. It was released in 1999 after which it has taken on another life as one of the most beloved teen movies ever made.
I’ve actually only just seen this movie. Seriously, up until Thursday, 10 Things I Hate About You was one of those films that’s been on your list forever but you haven’t gotten around to for, you know, years. Of course, my girlfriend was only going to have that for so long, and so 10 Things I Hate About You was finally put in front of me.
I really, really enjoyed it, which wasn’t a huge surprise to me. Considering the cast and its reputation, my expectations were pretty on point. 10 Things I Hate About You is one of those movies that serves as a reminder that teen movies can be done not just right, but well. It’s hilarious; really intelligent and witty in the right places, while at the same time achieving a kind of emotional sophistication that films like Ferris Bueller’s could only try to reach. To be fair, that emotional sophistication comes from not trying too hard. 10 Things doesn’t go crazy trying to OD on emotional backstory to create the illusion of depth, it just kind of sprinkles it in a way that feels a little more authentic. I’m not saying it’s a character study of anybody, but it does a really good job of telling me just enough about the characters to make me care about them as more than just archetypes, without doing the only thing that was wrong with a movie like Ferris Bueller, which is tonally a very similar movies (I see a lot of mood-parallels to the guidance counsellor and principal scenes in those two movies), which was try to heap more emotion onto a lighter storyline than it could take.
This movie launched the careers of a lot of really good actors. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, whose just too likeable not to commit to onscreen, is an example of someone who basically got famous around this movie (and obviously 3rd rock). Julia Stiles is another, and, while I haven’t seen much of her work, other than the Bourne movies, she was one of the film’s two big breakout stars. Again, haven’t seen much of her, but she’s pretty great in this movie. The biggest name on this list, however, and one of the main points of intrigue with this film is, of course, Heath Ledger. Ledger is probably best known for delivering arguably (and, in my opinion, definitively) the single greatest performance of all time as the Joker in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight. Of course, before he was the Joker, he was a heartthrob, and I’ve gotta say it was kind of spooky to see him not in makeup. He owns it hard though, and while it is really distracting to see him in retrospect of The Dark Knight and Brokeback, it’s a testament to his range that he’s as good as he is in this film. I don’t want to harp to long on this, but it just has to be said that Heath Ledger was one of the most talented actors in history, and the reality is he mightn’t have made it to a position where he could do what he did without this film, so for that we have only to be grateful. Okay, I’ll stop now.
There’s really not much more to say about this film. It’s just a lot of fun, really funny, easy to watch, and with a pretty cool emotional and conceptual foundation to it. The whole Shakespearian element is cool, and a lot more applicable to a modern time than the ending of the play it was based on. All in all, 10 Things I Hate About You is just a really enjoyable hour and a half that gives you plenty without asking much of you. My biggest complaint was that Alisson Janney didn’t have more of a role, but, to be fair, it would’ve been around the time of this movie that she was shooting for The West Wing, so it’s not really a complaint when I think about it. 10 Things I Hate About you joins Easy A and The Half of it as recent reminders to me that teen movies can be absolutely fantastic.
– Aman Datta
Aman’ Score – 77/100 Aryamaan’s Score –