Director: Gil Junger
Screenplay: Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith, based on William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew
Starring: Heath Ledger, Julia Stiles, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Larisa Oleynik, Larry Miller, Andrew Keegan, Gabrielle Union, David Krumholtz, and Susan May Pratt
What do you get when you cross 16th-century literature with all the fuzz, cliques, and whirling complexity that is high school? Well, we got a film that gave an upbeat treatment to a literary gem, “10 Things I Hate About You” (1999). We have to admit that fifteen years later, we still doth loveth thy flick (I had a hard time composing that), and let us count the ways:
1. It’s a modern retelling of a Shakespeare classic.
The film is actually based on one of William Shakespeare’s great comedies, The Taming of the Shrew — the shrew being Katarina “Kat” Stratford (played by Julia Stiles; based on Katerina Minola, the titular shrew from the play), a headstrong, opinionated, and unpopular student at Padua (yes, it’s the setting of the original play) High School. On the other hand, her younger sister, Bianca (played by Larisa Oleynik; based on, surprise, Bianca Minola) is hot, popular, and eagerly wants to date. Following their father’s rule that Bianca would be allowed to date only if Kat is in a relationship, Cameron (Jospeh Gordon-Levitt), who wants to date Bianca, invites Patrick Verona (Heath Ledger) into a plan — date and “tame” Kat in order for Cameron to date Bianca (Cameron and Patrick are based on the characters of Lucentio and Petruchio, respectively).
2. The Shakespearean references!
References to The Taming of the Shrew and to Shakespeare himself do not stop with the plot and the character’s names. From old English verses randomly being blurted out by the characters to the sonnet exercise in Mr. Morgan’s English class, 10 Things pay homage to one of the most influential writers in history.
3. It is actually a directorial film debut.
10 Things I Hate About You is Gil Junger’s first film. And it’s awesome.
4. You go, Kat! #feminist #girlpower
Kat Stratford should have been on our March list — she’s actually smart, confident, and kickass (or what the rest of Padua High School would call “heinous bitch”). Although the movie presented Kat as an embodiment of feminist stereotypes (complete with the Riot Grrrl music references), we cannot dismiss the fact that her personality made the character all the more interesting than the regular stereotype.
5. An adorable cast
10 Things I Hate About You spurred the careers of its cast, owing to their equally spectacular breakout performances and undeniable charm. Julia Stiles definitely had an equal dose of spunk and allure as the heroine, and Heath Ledger was equally charismatic, whether he is the guy that messes with everyone (or actually not) or Kat’s dashing date at the prom. The previous television engagement of Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Larisa Oleynik undeniably provided them with instant rapport that translated to the big screen.
6. Can we just go to Padua High School instead?
The great architecture (a band can even perform on its roof!). That soccer field. That aerial shot which made us see that Padua High actually has a view of the sea.
7. Patrick’s Can’t Take My Eyes Off You performance
Need we say more?
8. That moment when we realize that Kat is not actually what she is (or projects)
I personally love the moment when Kat finally tells Bianca about why she (Kat) acts the way she does. As it turns out, she was just like “any other teenager.” She even dated Joey Donner! We learn that Kat only did it because dating was popular, and in the end, she ultimately regretted it after Joey broke up with her.
9. A great soundtrack
10 Things’ soundtrack brings us a taste of good music ranging from Kat’s preferences to the fun alternative tone of the film. The film’s resident band is Letters to Cleo, a band in the 90s, who delivered great tracks such as C’mon, Cruel To Be Kind, and I Want You To Want Me. Also, did you know that Semisonic wrote another song aside from Closing Time? It’s called FNT, and it appears on this soundtrack as well.
10. And most importantly, it’s not your typical teen romantic-comedy movie, and what I especially loved about it is that it is full of sense, full of charm, and full of heart.
11. The poem (of course).
It has now become a classic — I bet fans have memorized the poem or had blurted it out randomly in conversations.