10 Things I Hate About You Review
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It’s hard to believe that it’s been just 10 years since an Australian kid named Heath Ledger first arrived in Hollywood and appeared in a teen comedy with Shakespearian roots. With his gleaming grin—and a musical scene that will go down in chick flick history—the charming young Aussie helped to make 10 Things I Hate About You a memorable rom-com. And it’s still every bit as lovable now as it was when it first hit theaters a decade ago.

Bianca Stratford (Larisa Oleynik) is one of the most popular girls at Seattle’s Padua High School. Every guy in school wants to get closer to her—from arrogant male model Joey (Andrew Keegan) to new kid Cameron (Joseph Gordon-Levitt). There’s just one problem: The Rule.

Bianca’s overprotective single dad (Larry Miller) is an OB-GYN who’s seen a few too many teen pregnancies, so he’s reluctant to let his daughters (especially perky, popular Bianca) date. Still, he agrees to let Bianca start dating—but on one condition: Bianca can date when her older sister, Kat (Julia Stiles), does. Unfortunately, though, Kat is a bit of a shrew—an angry, bitter feminist who wants nothing to do with boys.

Desperate to go out with Joey, Bianca uses her feminine wiles to get Cameron to find someone to go out with her sister. The only guy who’s up for the challenge is Patrick Verona (Ledger), the school troublemaker who (according to school rumors) may or may not have recently gotten out of prison. And it looks like Patrick may have just met his match.

Inspired by Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew—and occasionally seasoned with snippets of Shakespearian dialogue—10 Things I Hate About You is an unexpectedly clever teen romantic comedy. It has all the drama (and the fluffy teen romance) that you might expect, but it also has a surprisingly wicked sense of humor. First-time screenwriters Kirsten Smith and Karen McCullah Lutz successfully adapted a classic story, giving it an updated (and even edgy) twist (which makes it even more of a shame that they’ve since gone on to write The House Bunny and The Ugly Truth).

Padua High School is the kind of school you wish you’d attended—and not just because it’s a gorgeous old castle overlooking the water. At Padua, the teachers are sharp and sarcastic (except for the soccer coach, who’s a bit of a stoner); the guidance counselor (Allison Janney) is an aspiring romance novelist; and the cliques are exaggerated and wacky. And when they throw a crazy high school party, everyone shows up.

Of course, 10 Things wouldn’t have been nearly as memorable without the perfect young cast. From Stiles and Gordon-Levitt (who’s grown into one of my favorite actors) to Ledger (whose performance jump-started his all-too-brief Hollywood career), the talented cast manages to make even the most self-centered characters lovable.

There’s just so much to love about 10 Things I Hate About You—from the cool alternative soundtrack to the brilliant young cast to the cleverly-written comedy. It’s a Shakespearian comedy that even lit-class dropouts can love.

Blu-ray Review:
At first glance, the 10th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray release of 10 Things I Hate About You appears to be surprisingly short on features. The disc’s menu, after all, lists just two: a commentary track (with the screenwriters and some of the lesser-known cast members) and a retrospective. But 10 Things I Love About 10 Things I Hate About You: 10 Years Later offers a whole bunch of extras, all wrapped up in one 35-minute feature. There are interviews with the cast (from 1999), new interviews with the director and screenwriters, behind-the-scenes footage (including Heath Ledger’s casting footage), some deleted scenes, gags, and more. Though it takes a bit of a time commitment, 10 Things fans will find it worth watching.

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