Looking back: 10 Things I Hate About You (1999)

Looking back is a new feature here, whereby I watch an old film I may or may not have seen already and then give it a review afterwards. Typically these will be films that aren’t on general release at the cinema, as those will just appear in the normal reviews section.

As I say, the Looking Back feature will be a chance to view and review older films and may hopefully give my readers the opportunity to have their say on a chosen film in the comments, I might even be able to unlock a hidden gem for people to watch or maybe someone has a recommendation for me.

Today: 10 Things I Hate About You

Director: Gil Junger

Starring: Heath Ledger, Julia Stiles, Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Synopsis: A new kid must find a guy to date the meanest girl in school, the older sister of the girl he has a crush on, who cannot date until her older sister does.

10 Things I Hate About You is a smart, funny and very charming teen comedy based upon The Taming Of The Shrew by William Shakespeare. I won’t pretend to be familiar with the original piece, so I can only comment on the movie itself and won’t attempt to draw comparisons between the two.

It takes something special for a teen comedy to stand out from the crowd, invariably though the good ones tend to stick around while the others fall to the wayside. For every Ferris Bueller, Clueless & Easy A, there are million others that come and go like the days of the week. Sitting at nearly 15 years old now, 10 Things has aged enough to be able to establish just how good it is, and it’s a good thing then that 10 Things I Hate About You is one of the better teen comedies.

The main thing to look out for in a movie like this, and in most other movies really, are good characters, humor and a good script. Yes, I know those are all obvious qualities of any film, but it’s very easy to get those things wrong. 10 Things fortunately, get these right. The story moves along swiftly with charming acting and a quick script that further endears us to the characters and their predicaments.

It’s slightly odd, looking back on this film now though and seeing actors that I am very familiar with, look so bloody young. Heath Ledger, in his first Hollywood role, appears to look the eldest of the cast, though this does aid his loner/bad boy character. Ledger applies himself well in the role, showing good comic timing and having a certain charm that will surely win you over.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt and David Krumholtz are youth personified in this movie and provide some great moments along the way and appear to have a genuine friendship with each other. Julia Stiles is the so-called “Shrew” of the piece and plays the “heinous bitch” very well, though her character again grows on you as her defenses are broken down by Ledger’s Verona.

I understand that teen comedies aren’t to everyone’s taste, and particularly as we grow older we tend to leave these kind of films behind us as our wants and needs change. But give 10 Things a chance, whether you’ve never seen it before or maybe you just haven’t seen it in a while. Yes, it’s primarily a teen comedy, but sitting here at the age of 28 and still being able to enjoy it says more about its quality than any review can. Simply put, go watch it.



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