JUST ANOTHER GAL FROM CASPER: WHAT I’M WATCHING RIGHT NOW EDITION…
1999’s 10 Things I Hate About You is an oldie, but totally a goodie. It’s the kind of movie you can throw on in the background while you’re playing Scrabble, or watch with undivided attention.
10 Things is a modern-day…retelling? reimagining? of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. It’s a fabulous ’90s “teen flick,” with lots more to offer than that term implies. And for those of you who actually dig the Bard’s pithy parlance, there are a few passages from The Man himself mixed in for good measure.
Young, naïve Cameron James (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is new to Padua High School. On his first day, he befriends loveable nerd Michael (David Krumholtz) and becomes smitten with cute but shallow Bianca Stratford (Larisa Olynik). When he discovers that Bianca’s not allowed to date until her “shrew” of a sister, Kat (a spot-on Julia Stiles) dates, he and Michael devise a plan to couple-up Kat — trick vapid, popular rich kid Joey into bankrolling someone to take out Kat, making the unsuspecting Joey think that he can date Bianca.
Enter Patrick Verona (the unbelievably perfect Heath Ledger), the school’s “bad boy” and the boys’ idea of Kat’s perfect mate. He’s got such a bad reputation, even the normal delinquents are scared of him. Watching him “woo” Kat is both funny and sweet.
10 Things may be a romcom, but the script’s great (and still holds up nearly 25 years later), the woman-power message is on point without being too overbearing, and the acting is fantastic. I’m rooting for Cameron to get girl-of-his-dreams Bianca, who learns to appreciate her sister, and also sheds her shallow persona in favor of the smart, capable girl she is. I feel for Kat, who’s trying so hard to not be what people want/expect her to be that she pointedly pushes everyone away, until finally finding someone she wants to let in. And Ledger’s Patrick Verona is 0% scary and 1000% the encouraging friend you want in your corner — as well as the hottie you want pursuing you. Ledger delivers a rendition of “Can’t Take My Eyes off of You” that still makes me smile every time I see it.
Other great characters? Allison Janney’s Ms. Perky, the little bit raunchy guidance counselor who’s writing a romance novel that includes the phrases “Undulating with Desire” and “Quivering Member.” And the girls’ loving but overprotective father, Walter Stratford (Larry Miller). In one scene, he demands that Bianca wear a padded pregnancy belly prior to attending a party. This scene gives birth to my favorite line/sight gag in a movie packed with awesomeness.
To check out more great characters and lines, search streaming options for 10 Things I Hate About You, grab your favorite junk food, and settle in with this modern-day Shakespearian tale.