Posted on 8/04/11 03:10 PM
10 Things I Hate About You (1999)
Starring: Heath Ledger, Julia Stiles, Joseph Gordon-Levitt...
Directed by: Gil Junger
Synopsis: A film inspired by the classic Shakespeare play "The Taming of the Shrew.", set in a modern day high school. (Source: IMDb)
Thoughts I Had Before Watching: This one was one of those movies that practically every single girl friend of mine had already seen. You know, along with "The Notebook" and "A Walk to Remember, and that sort of films. And each one of them was absolutely melted by it. Okay, I'm not a chick, and I can understand perfectly why they melt it about it. It's a teen romantic flick. It has "hot guys" in it. I get it. But that's not why I watched it. I actually don't know why I watched it. I was not feeling in the mood for a thriller or a drama. I wanted something comedic and light. And I've heard this was good. Well, better said, that it was not bad. And it's a Shakespeare play translated into a modern day high school. I always wanted to do that (actually, I did it as a project last year, but that's another story...), or rather see that properly done. I guess that's what attracted me most above other options. So, I watched it last night. And I gotta say it was a very fun and pleasant discovery to add into my small collection of "The Teen Comedy is Not Dead" collection, although barely...
Storyline/Script: The film is based upon William Shakespeare's classical play "The Taming of the Shrew", only, you know, with teens in a high school instead of with nobles in Renaissance Italy. Adapting Shakespeare is not easy. I've analyzed him for three years in a row now in English class, and there's much, much more than meets the eye. And I've tried to adapt him, too, the way "10 Things..." did. Into the teenage world. And that's not an easy thing to do either. Well, definitely the writers came off much better than I did (although, not to brag, and to get the subject over with, I didn't to that bad myself. One day I'll post excerpts from my "Othellia"). I can say that they almost flawlessly made the transition from Shakespearean to adolescent. The story has everything a classical play from his has: love triangles, secret pacts, lies, trickery, and lots and lots of misunderstandings. The essence of the story is still there, but it's nicely translated into characters and situations relatable to the target audience. And what's the problem with that? Well, what's relatable to the target audience in this case involved adding every single cliché and cheesiness ever used in a teen flick. Every single one. There's the completely foreshadowed mismatched couple that ends together, the dorky guy that eventually gets the popular girl that's not a bitch on the inside, the cocky jock, the slutty cheerleaders, the drunkard party, the prom. Everything is in there. So, the story may not be original in any way whatsoever, and it's corny and predictable, but it's fun to watch. It gets laughs out of you, and no matter how many times we've seen in done before, it manages to steal some sighs (even as a guy). So, the freshness that it had from successfully adapting Shakespeare to our generation, is completely outbalanced by overusing a thousand already worn out techniques. 20/30
Acting: Well it's teens, acting in a teen comedy. I think we all can expect from the very beginning that this won't be a King's Speech, and it is not, but the leads give out enough charm and likeableness to overshadow every inexperience (because that's all it really is) they may have. Oh, Heath Ledger. Back when he was just a young hot lad melting the ladies. Back when there was no Joker to live up to. Back when he was alive. His Patrick, the bad-ass that's sweet in the inside and wins up the unwinnable girl, is charming, and cryptic, and you can understand completely why every girl falls to his feet. He's the perfect teen flick lead, that's about it. But Julia Stiles (sue me, I have absolutely no idea who she is...in what other movies has she appeared?) is probably the stand-out of the movie, as Kat, the cynic, closed, and apparently impenetrable girl that all that wants is to be liked. She was strong, and firm, and hilarious, and deep when she needed to be. I just think her and Ledger's characters evolved way too fast from being completely shut out beings to opening to each other emotionally. That felt way out of place. And while Stiles may be the standout in performances, the guy who steals the whole movie, at least for me, is Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Cameron. God, it was so freakin' strange watching him so young. He wasn't particularly the best actor, but even then he reflected the charm that has made him so characteristic nowadays. And I could just swear that his character grew up to become Tom from "(500) Days of Summer". He was a pleasure to watch. Actually, they all were. Again, the performances weren't the best, but their charm made up for it. 20/30
Behind the Cameras: Well, it's nothing outstanding. Neat direction, you know, aiming to go somewhere, deliver a simple message and charm a certain type of people, which I think they did successfully. The score is something worth mentioning. Instead of going with bubblegum teen pop, they chose a more indie direction, which I think was really appropriate for the movie. Nice. But, hey, it's a teen flick. I mean, after all, who's even looking behind the cameras? 13/20
Entertainment/Fun Factor: I wasn't looking for a movie where I had to think much. I just wanted to lie back, and watch some romance, and comedy, and have a good time. And this movie gave me exactly that. Maybe I didn't burst out laughing every two seconds, or I wasn't dazzled at the originality and wittiness of the screenplay, but I enjoyed myself. It was a good movie to spend the afternoon, it is a movie I would watch again if the opportunity is given, and it is a movie that I think ultimately accomplishes its main goal, which is to entertain teenage audiences. Oh, and maybe subconsciously impregnating some Shakespeare, but that's beside the point. 18/20
Highest Point: Julia Stiles and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. The hints of classical Shakespearean drama elements in the storylune.
Lowest Point: The usage of probably every single teen movie cliché in the book.
Would I Recommend It? Yes, I think I would. I would certainly recommend it to my friends, since I know most of them will be the ones to enjoy it. Especially girls. Especially girls during dates. God, will this be an effective movie in that circumstance. Anyway, it is a well-accomplished movie, that, if you know what you're up for, mostly everyone will enjoy. It didn't break any boundaries within the genre. Come on, this is no "Easy A" or "Mean Girls". But it left a hint out there that good teen comedies still have the potential to be what they used to be in the 80s. For now, "10 Things I Hate About You" will remain as an all-time favorite flick for teenage girls to watch at sleepovers, and maybe as a very useful tool for teachers to introduce William Shakespeare to younger audiences. There are worse movies, but there are much better...
My Final Rating: 71%