I saw this movie not too long ago, roughly around the time of Heath Ledger’s passing. I’ve always been curious about this movie but his phenomenal performance as the Joker in The Dark Knight compelled me to see it even more. It’s been more than a decade since 10 Things I Hate About You hit theaters, and its 10th Anniversary DVD has just been released.
Film Summary (per IMDb):
Updated version of William Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew”, set at the fictional Padua High School in Tacoma where a new transfer student, Cameron (Gordon-Levitt), is interested in the popular sophomore Bianca Stratford. But Bianca’s overprotective and domineering father forbids Bianca to date unless her older sister Katerina (Stiles), an unpopular and hostile senior, does. In a bid to get Katerina a boyfriend, Cameron sets up a plan to have the school stud, Joey Donnar, bribe Patrick Verona (Ledger), an outcast senior with a rumor-filled past, to take the volatile Katerina out on dates so he can go to the school’s homecoming dance with Bianca. However, neither Pat or Kat expect their ‘going steady’ to lead where nobody expects it to.
This marching band scene is one of my favorite parts of the movie where Patrick sings “Can’t take my eyes off of you” to Kat. I forgot how good Heath’s singing voice was, he should’ve been on my list of actors who’re surprisingly good singers.
Watching clips of this makes me feel nostalgic about Heath. He truly was one of the best actors of his generation with so much potential. His performance here was top notch, truth be told, I don’t think this movie would’ve worked as well as it did without him. Rob Pattinson’s sullen & angst-ridden Edward in Twilight might’ve taken some cue from mysteriously intriguing Patrick Verona, alas R-Patz could barely match Ledger’s charisma, sparkly torso notwithstanding.
Surely the late young Aussie thespian was the star of the film, but Julia Stiles delivered a superb performance as well. She and Ledger played off each other well and their eventual attraction was believable and wonderful to watch. I haven’t seen her in much of anything of late besides the Bourne series, which is too bad because she’s a darn good actress. According to IMDb, one of her projects in development is The Bell Jar, which is novelist/poet Sylvia Plath’s only novel. I remember Gerry Butler mentioned Stiles a few years back during the Red Eye movie premiere when discussing the elusive Burns biopic. Apparently Butler was keen on her being involved in the movie, as one of the bard’s women Jean Armour perhaps?
Anyway, it’s tough to find a teen comedy that’s not corny or obtuse, but director Gil Junger (who does mostly TV sitcoms work) managed to make one that has a universal and remarkably timeless appeal. The script is full of wicked dialog that’s both funny and touching. If you haven’t seen it, don’t be put off by the teen comedy genre, this isn’t Clueless or American Pie (shudder), as Ledger’s charismatic bad-boy portrayal, as well as strong performances from Julia Stiles and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, truly made this one worth seeing. Interesting that a decade later, both Ledger and Levitt would be part of the mega blockbuster that is Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy.
I might even rent this one again if only to see the featurette aptly named 10 Things I Love About 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU: 10 Years Later and the sneak peek of Heath Ledger’s screen test.
Have you seen this film? What did you think?