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“I hate the way you talk to me, and the way you cut your hair. I hate the way you drive my car. I hate it when you stare.” Only six more sentiments of vitriol, and you’ve got yourself a complete list of 10 Things I Hate About You. Celebrating its 25th anniversary, The Frida is still partying like it’s 1999, and what better way to celebrate with an all-time classic with Shakespearean roots. Although widely known by now as a modern adaptation of The Taming of the Shrew, an irreverent comedy of sorts, 10 Things I Hate About You has a firm place in the pop culture zeitgeist as a film just as noted for its iconic dialogue and final monologue as it is for its stellar ensemble cast of some of the biggest stars of the late 20th century.
A staple of my youth film-going experiences, 10 Things regrettably provided a somewhat unrealistic expectation of what high school life would be like. Nonetheless, it still remains a fundamental piece of filmmaking and entertainment. The visual equivalent of a security blanket, you’d be hard pressed to find a film that filters its emotional impact in such a way that ultimately elicits the positives of life: pride, joy, and hopefulness. Despite the word “Hate” being prominent in the title, there’s not much to hate in the film. A gleefully quirky offering, 10 Things allows audiences to connect and empathize with even the least likable characters. And if that wasn’t enough to entice you, how about a Julia Stiles and Heath Ledger love story?
Similar to many of William Shakespeare’s comedies, the plot can be slightly convoluted and a tad dated (pun intended). Our story concerns Kat (Julia Stiles), a know-it-all with more angst than an early 2000s pop punk album. Kat’s sister, Bianca, is the underclassman star of the school and also commands the attention of several potential suitors. However, a problem persists. Bianca isn’t allowed to date until her older sister does. The ensuing plot concerns Cameron (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) navigating a path in order to find the affection of Bianca by pairing Kat with the bad-boy outcast Patrick (Heath Ledger). While that plot breakdown may have felt like a chore in and of itself, swift direction from Gil Junger allows the film to play out in a natural and understandable way. Ledger and Stiles work together seamlessly for a relationship portrayal that is initially destined for failure but has us rooting for success by the end. Often overlooked in this conversation is David Krumholtz’s portrayal of “Michael,” a squirrelly character who brings in the comedic relief.
Baz Luhrmann gave us a modern adaptation of Shakespeare with Romeo + Juliet with original dialogue, as did Joss Whedon with 2012’s Much Ado About Nothing. Where 10 Things succeeds is its integration of Shakespeare’s prose with modern language devices. Screenwriters Karen McCullah and Kristen Smith deserve more credit for adapting a story written centuries ago that still has cinematic appeal. The film’s sometimes dense approach to storytelling is sandwiched between moments of pure ’90s elation, with its soundtrack including the likes of Semisonic, Sister Hazel, and a performance from ska legends Save Ferris. The use of music in the film is arguably just as responsible for the film’s success as is the great ensemble cast.
25 years later, the final product still comes off as fresh. A feel-good movie at its core, 10 Things I Hate About You presents an elevated level to the teenage rom-com movies of its time. Despite its low-stakes nature, I couldn’t help but feel joy upon giving it a rewatch for the umpteenth time. Ten things seems too high of a number for errors in this case. I don’t hate this movie, “not even close, not even a little bit, not even at all.”
10 Things I Hate About You screens starting Friday, February 16th.
Friday, Feb 16 – 7:30pm
Saturday, Feb 17 – 9:30pm
Sunday, Feb 18 – 7:45pm
Monday, Feb 19 – 7:45pm