10 Things I Hate About You: 10th Anniversary Edition
January 8, 2010
A crass marketing ploy to capitalize on the death of Heath Ledger or a legitimate tribute to a film that helped launch his career in the United States, as well as that of Julia Stiles? 10 Things I Hate About You (1999) also hinted at the emerging talent of a young Joseph Gordon-Levitt. The film is a fun and modern spin on William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew and came at the end of a cycle of contemporary adaptations aimed at teenagers. 10 Things is certainly one of the better examples from this period thanks to Karen McCullah Lutz and Kristen Smith’s clever screenplay that features witty dialogue. This new special edition DVD revisits the film with several brand new extras but is it worth the double dip?
Cameron James (Gordon-Levitt) is the new kid at high school and quickly finds himself attracted to Bianca Stratford (Oleynik), a cute if not somewhat superficial girl whose father (Miller) forbids her to date … that is, unless her short-tempered older sister Kat (Stiles) does. So, Cameron asks the only guy in school capable of taming this shrew, Patrick Verona (Ledger), a rebel with a colourful reputation. At first, he’s not interested, but when the school’s reigning pretty boy, Joey Donner (Keegan), offers him a lot of money to date Kat (he also wants to date Bianca), Patrick takes him up on his offer. The only problem is that the more he gets to know Kat, the more he finds himself attracted to her.
From the opening strains of “One Week” by the Barenaked Ladies playing over the opening credits, you instantly know that you’re watching a film made in the 1990s. Their bouncy, catchy music is playing on Bianca’s car stereo as she and her friends drive to school. The song is their ideal theme music and is quickly drowned out “Bad Reputation” by Joan Jett, blasting away on Kat’s car stereo as she drives by. Another ‘90s indicator is the introduction of the various school cliques that Michael Eckman (Krumholtz) gives Cameron on his first day: there’s the white Rastas, cowboys, coffee drinkers and future MBA’s. I must be showing my age but I don’t remember any of these cliques when I went to school but I guess that’s kinda the point.
It’s amazing to see how young and fresh-faced Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles are in 10 Things I Hate About You. She plays a Sarah Lawrence-accepted feminist who reads The Bell Jar in her spare time and he uses a switchblade in biology class and likes to play with fire. Ledger and Stiles have fun playing high school rebels and have undeniable chemistry together. One could see even then the talent both of them had as they skillfully inhabit their respective characters and have with the clever, sometimes saucy script. Still fresh from his stint on 3rd Rock from the Sun (which he was still doing at the time), Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays an earnest high schooler of the squeaky clean variety and does a fine job, although this role hardly hints at the diverse characters he would soon tackle.
10 Things I Hate About You is a snapshot of the late ‘90s teen comedy that didn’t feel the need to resort to cheap gross-out gags and actually has a brain in its head. Teen comedies nowadays seem so shallow with very little thought put into them. The film also features a pretty diverse soundtrack, featuring the likes of George Clinton, Notorious B.I.G., the Cardigans, and Letters to Cleo. Ultimately, 10 Things is about opposites attracting and how young people attempt to get past public perceptions and get to know one another, falling in love with who they really are.
If you already own a copy of this film and are a fan then this edition is definitely worth purchasing. While there are only two extras they are substantial.
“10 Things I Love About 10 Things I Hate About You 10 Years Later” is a fairly in-depth retrospective featurette with director Gil Junger and screenwriters Karen McCullah Lutz and Kristen Smith returning to talk about how it all came together. Also included are interviews with the main cast members done at the time of its release. There is also some pretty nice behind-the-scenes footage, excerpts from deleted scenes, and casting footage of Heath Ledger reading for the film. For fans there is plenty of filming anecdotes but it would have been nice to see the deleted scenes given their own extra along with the casting footage.
Also included is an audio commentary by co-writers Karen McCullah Lutz and Kristen Smith and actors Andrew Keegan, David Krumholtz, Larisa Oleynik, and Susan May Pratt. The cast reminisce about the sulfur smell of Tacoma, Washington, where they shot most of the film. They also talk about how the cast bonded quickly and their initial impressions of Ledger who joined the production a week or two into shooting. With his dry humour, Krumholtz is a hoot as he recalls all kinds of filming anecdotes. This is a fun reunion of sorts as everyone jokes around with each other and looks back fondly on this film.