Did you ever wonder what William Shakespeare‘s take on high school might be like? If so, this is the movie for you.
10 Things I Hate About You is a modern (or at least a late 90’s) retelling on William Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew. There have been many modern takes of this story over the years (most notably Kiss Me Kate, which was set in 1969 and the classic Moonlighting episode) but in my opinion this one is the best. It’s true that I do love me a good teen comedy and 10 Things I Hate About You is one of the better movies of that genre. But I am getting a little ahead of myself.
In case you are not familiar with the story here is a quick run down. Cameron (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a new student at Padua High School. On his first day he is struck down with love for the beautiful Bianca Stratford (Larisa Oleynik) but there’s one little catch, Bianca is not allowed to date until her older sister Kat (Julia Stiles) begins dating. No small feat considering Kat’s indie rock loving, feminist literature reading, camouflage wearing, self proclaimed bitch of a self has no intention of dating anyone…ever. But Cameron is not dissuaded in his love and sets out to find Kat a boyfriend. Enter Patrick Verona (Heath Ledger), the only person at Padua with a worse reputation than Kat. So a proposal of money is levied and the chase is on. You can pretty much fill in the rest of the story from there as Hollywood has raped this plot for years.
But this movie is not about innovative filmmaking or new story innovations; it is all about the ride. I remember seeing the trailer for this movie in the spring of 1999 and had it pegged from the beginning. But looking back this movie really launched some careers and featured some well respected actors. Julia Stiles’ (Save The Last Dance, The Bourne trilogy) turn as Kat Stratford catapulted her career for the next decade and we all know how well Heath Ledger (A Knight’s Tale, The Dark Knight) did. And Allison Janney (The West Wing, Juno) is perfect as Ms. Perky, a no nonsense guidance counselor who fancies herself a romance novelist. But the real prize here is an early look at Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Brick, (500) Days of Summer) before he became an indie film darling.
10 Things I Hate About You has held up remarkably well over the past ten years. A lot of movies from this era look dated and feature mediocre actors playing mediocre roles. But this movie is special. It features actors who would go on to make great movies and the music is a lot of fun as well. Letters to Cleo appear both in the movie and on the soundtrack which also features Semisonic, Sister Hazel, Save Ferris and George Clinton. Speaking of music, I cannot end this review without talking about Heath Ledger’s musical number, maybe one of the funniest and sweetest moments I’ve seen in a movie in a long time. This is a good little movie and I am glad to have it in my collection.
The film is presented in a brand new Widescreen (1.85:1) enhanced for 16×9 televisions transfer and overall it looks pretty good. There’s some grain and some print damage here and there but overall the film looks solid with some fine detail here and there and colors that pop. The film looks it’s age but it looks better than any previous home video release.
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. The audio is clear and non-distorted. Every line is audible and clear and the music cues sound great. There are several opportunities for directional audio and they all sound great such as the prom, a biker bar, and a party. These scenes are full and fill the soundstage with music and chatter. It’s no summer blockbuster audio presentation but it sounds really good.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The packaging isn’t very creative. The only change from the original release is the front cover which now features the original movie poster. It is a standard clam shell case with a slip cover. Like I said, nothing creative.
The featurette 10 Things I Love About 10 Things I Hate About You is a little bit disappointing. It does have new interviews with the writers and director but all the interview footage of the cast is from production. I was really hoping to get a retrospect from the cast members but oh, well. It is peppered with deleted scenes, behind the scenes footage and casting footage. On the plus side the new interviews do give a lot of insight about how the movie and cast came together. Well worth a look.
The audio commentary does feature the co-writers and some of the cast but it is the same one featured on the regular edition of the dvd. There is also a digital copy of the movie included on a second disc.
10 Things I Hate About You is a nice step back in time with its Dawson’s Creek references, 90’s rock soundtrack and a look at Heath Ledger’s early acting genius. We’ve come a long way in ten years.
Overall (Not an Average) 9/10
The Movie 9/10
The Video 8/10
The Audio 8/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 7/10
Overall (Not an Average) 9/10