10 Things I Hate about You (1999)

10 Things I Hate about You (1999)
  • Time: 97 min
  • Genre: Comedy | Drama | Romance
  • Director: Gil Junger
  • Cast: Heath Ledger, Julia Stiles, Joseph Gordon-Levitt


Bianca, a tenth grader has never gone on a date, but she isn’t allowed to go out with boys until her older sister gets a boyfriend. The problem is, Kat rubs nearly everyone the wrong way. But Bianca and the guy she has her eye on, Joey, are eager, so Joey fixes Kat up with Patrick, a new kid in town just bitter enough for Kat.


  • A much better film than most of the “teen films”. It’s definitely a movie that you can just throw on and watch when your in a laid-back mood. The cast is excellent (Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles are terrific in the movie), and the characters are just quirky enough without sliding into annoying.

  • Call her Shakespeare’s true cinematic muse, a probable Gwyneth Paltrow for her generation. At the still tender age of 18, Julia Stiles is making her mark in a trio of modern day takes on Shakespearean classics. Still to be released are Michael Almereyda’s Hamlet where she plays Ophelia to Ethan Hawke’s Hamlet and O, where she is Desdemona to Mekhi Phifer’s basketball-playing Othello. Right now, you can catch her shining brightly as Katarina “Kat” Stratford in 10 Things I Hate About You, Gil Junger’s teen take on The Taming of the Shrew.

    There’s a rule in the Stratford house: no dating until you graduate. That’s just fine by Kat who finds herself surrounded by imbecilic boys bound to grow up and contribute to the longevity of the oppressive patriarchal society. Clearly, Kat is no ordinary girl. She espouses feminist prose and angry girl bands of the indie persuasion and denounces smoking and general foolishness. “I don’t like to do what people expect,” she admits rather proudly.

    That stance doesn’t make little sister Bianca (Larisa Oleynik) too happy. A popular people pleaser who likes her Skechers but loves her Prada backpack, she’s the girl every guy in school wants to go out with. That’s definitely what resident stud and regional model Joey Donner (Andrew Keegan) wants to do but he’s just out to make her another notch on his belt. Cameron James (Joseph-Gordon Levitt), on the other hand, has purer intentions. “I burn, I pine, I perish,” he declares, falling in love with her at first sight and signing on as her French tutor to be nearer to his beloved. So what if he actually doesn’t know a word of French? He can learn. But what’s a girl like Bianca to do when all these boys are chasing her and she can’t agree to a date?

    Complain to daddy (Larry Miller), of course. Daddy does agree to amend the rule: she can date…when Kat does. “But she’s a mutant!” Bianca wails. There may, however, be a solution. Cameron and his friend Michael (David Krumholz) come up with a plan to find a guy willing to date the indomitable, venomous Kat. Joey agrees to be their sponsor and they all strike upon the perfect candidate: Patrick Verona (Heath Ledger), a bad Aussie with a criminal past who is purported to have eaten a live duck and sold his kidney on the black market to buy a new set of speakers. A perfect match for the girl who caused one guy to have a testicular tuck.

    The alienating Kat won’t be so easily won, however, as Patrick discovers. She’s not intimidated by his reputation nor does she hesitate to use her acerbic wit to discourage his efforts. But there’s something about her that propels Patrick to continue his mission to tame the Stratford shrew.

    10 Things I Hate About You is actually fun going for the first hour as Patrick and Kat warily circle each other. The gag factor, as far as the other characters are concerned, is kept at a tolerable level until the last half hour when director Gil Junger inexplicably loosens the reins. Screenwriters Karen McCullah and Kirsten Smith try to insert Shakespearean elements into the proceedings, though not always with success. They do, however, provide some zippy dialogue for their actors. Allison Janney as Ms. Perky, the guidance counselor more interested in writing her erotic novel than counseling her students, is a delight as is Miller, whose character constantly fears pregnancy will befall his daughters. Miller delivers some of the film’s best lines. “I’m down, I’ve got the 411. You’re not going to get jiggy with some boy,” he informs the exasperated Bianca. “My insurance does not cover PMS,” he tells Kat after she rams into Joey’s convertible.

    Ledger, who starred in the short-lived television series Roar, has a natural, nonchalant presence and a way with his character that suggests he’s destined for roles that don’t require him to merely be eye candy. Of course, Patrick Verona requires him to do a little more than look good. He’s well-paired with Stiles. A petulant, pouty beauty — imagine a feline quality merged with a Renaissance-era look — she possesses a pragmatism that prevents her from being saccharine and a grit that can’t be manufactured. “I don’t care what people think. You don’t always have to be what they want you to be,” her Kat advises Bianca. Let’s hope Stiles continues to follow that advice because she has the youth and beauty to go places and the talent to stay there.

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