10 Things I Hate About You
d. Gil Junger / 1999 / USA / 97 mins
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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?
- That Heath Ledger scene…it really is an all-time classic. Isn’t it?
- Oh, what the hell…it’s just good old fashioned, mindless film fun!