Reviewed by GREG KING
Director: Gil Junger
Stars: Julia Stiles, Heath Ledger, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Larisa Oleynik, Andrew Keegan, David Krumholtz, Larry Miller, Susan May Pratt, Gabrielle Union, Daryl “Chill” Mitchell, Allison Janney, Kyle Cease, David Leisure.
Shakespeare gets a contemporary workout in this enjoyable teen comedy which has broad audience appeal. Essentially a modern version of The Taming Of The Shrew set in a Seattle high school, 10 Things I Hate About You uses the broad threads of the play to explore more relevant themes and issues.
The shy Cameron (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, from popular tv sitcom Third Rock From The Sun, etc) wants to date the beautiful and popular Bianca Stafford (Larisa Oleynik). The stumbling block is her older, shrewish sister Katrina (Julia Stiles), who loves death metal, the morbid poetry of Sylvia Plath, and whose sharp tongue drives away any boy who shows even the slightest interest in her. The girls’ single father (Larry Miller) constantly worries about his two daughters, and forbids Bianca to go on a date unless Katrina also has a date. Cameron is faced with the impossible mission of trying to coerce someone to go out on a date with Katrina.
The answer to his dilemma lies in Patrick (played by Aussie actor Heath Ledger, best known for his role in the short-lived series Roar), the new boy in school. Patrick has a reputation as a wild man and is dogged by rumours about a dark past, all of which makes him perfect for the challenge. Cameron somehow has to persuade Patrick to date Bianca. Enter narcissistic and smarmy rich boy Joey Donner (Andrew Keegan, from Independence Day, etc) to further confuse the mix, and the scene is set for the typical showdown during the school prom.
With its exploration of the cut throat world of high school politics et al, the film ventures into familiar territory (most recently She’s All That, Jawbreaker, etc). However, the script from first time writers Karen McCullah Lutz and Kristen Smith is smart and witty, and puts a fresh spin on some familiar and tired clichés. Although some of the key plot developments may be fairly predictable, 10 Things I Hate About You sustains the interest, and is surprisingly entertaining for this over done genre.
Director Gil Junger hails from a background in television, and he knows how to milk the material for its humour. There are some clever sight gags, and the smart, bitchy dialogue will appeal to broader audiences as well. The performances of the young, largely unknown cast are enthusiastic and bring these selfish and shallow characters to life in likeable enough fashion.