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10 Things I Hate About You

#70 - 10 Things I Hate About You
Gil Junger, 1999

A modern high-school interpretation of Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew where a pair of sisters - one popular, one not - are only allowed to date if the unpopular one starts dating first, so some male students cook up a plan to set the unpopular one up with a date.

10 Things I Hate About You is an enjoyable enough little piece of late-90s fluff. Some clever writing here and there (such as that first classroom scene that establishes Julia Stiles' firmly antiestablishment character and Daryl Mitchell's understandably acerbic teacher, which is probably the best moment in the whole film) helps to balance out some rather awkward gags (such as one character's obsession with Shakespeare, which seems really heavy-handed considering this film's source material). The performances are decent enough - Heath Ledger's break-out role as the local bad boy who is brought in to "tame the shrew" isn't all that amazing (reminds me too much of his equally stoic and unimpressive turn in Two Hands), but the rest of the cast is decent enough. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is charming enough as the film's adorkable protagonist, Stiles is pretty good as the frosty riot-grrl and so is David Krumholtz as Gordon-Levitt's fast-talking offsider. Allison Janney is also here for a short amount of time that almost justifies her name being in the opening credits.

Otherwise, this is actually a fairly by-the-numbers rom-com. It's got some good jokes, some not-so-good ones, is shot fairly competently and has the kind of soundtrack that captures the late-1990s alt-rock sound so well that it's physically painfull. It's not an amazing film by any measure, but it was worth watching once.