10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU

10 Things I Hate About You
d. Gil Junger / 1999 / USA / 97 mins

Still from 10 Things I Hate About You

Romantic teen comedies get a bad rap, and usually for good reason. But I’m man enough to admit that I have a bit of a soft spot this Heath Ledger / Julia Stiles starrer, and here’s why…

10 Things I (Don’t) Hate About This Film

  1. It (sort of) bombed. Okay, so I take some kind of perverse pleasure in films that tank, especially when they aren’t actually that bad. That said, it only cost about $16m and they made $53m worldwide, so it was actually a modest success, plus I’d be surprised if it hasn’t earned Touchstone (aka Disney) a hefty sum in home video and television sales.
  2. The whole reverse-Grease thing with Heath Ledger’s character being Australian. Little known fact: William Shakespeare also wrote early outlines for Grease. Yeah, no, he didn’t. Sorry.
  3. Based on Shakes’ Taming of the Shrew, it was one of the few ‘modern retellings’ from this era that wasn’t pretending to be anything other than a basic teen flick. There’s absolutely no arty pretense here (I’m looking at you Baz!), just look at what director Gil Junger has done since: lots of TV, plus a medieval Martin Lawrence in Black Knight (2001), a Jennifer Love Hewitt weepie called If Only (2004) that failed to find US distribution, and a straight-to-video Get Smart spin-off Bruce and Lloyd: Out of Control (2008).
  4. Speaking of which, there’s nothing in the crew list to indicate why this film might not suck – it’s not just the director, the writers have made a bit of a name for sucking since – and yet suck it doesn’t.
  5. Never mind the crew, the cast is actually pretty darn good. For all her (occasionally) wayward choices, Julia Stiles is actually a mighty fine actress, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is the height of cool these days, and we all know about the late, great Heath Ledger.
  6. Spiderbait! Formerly great little Aussie band (who kind of lost their way in the late 1990s) appear on the soundtrack. I don’t especially like the song – Sunshine On My Window – and yet it makes me smile every time.
  7. Sass! This film really is full of it, but my favourite sassy character is the English teacher (even if he is something of a borderline racist cliche).
  8. In fact, I also kind of like that there is a bit of borderline racism on show here. Each of the characters seem to take turns making reference to Joey (Andrew Keegan) with names like ‘Fabio’ and ‘Chachi’. But I guess that’s an acceptable form of racism, right?
  9. That Heath Ledger scene…it really is an all-time classic. Isn’t it?
  10. Oh, what the hell…it’s just good old fashioned, mindless film fun!
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