Monday, June 13, 2011

Movie Review: 10 Things I Hate About You

I watched 10 Things I Hate About You on Friday with Jen. We'd seen it before when it first came out on home video, but hadn't watched it recently.

It's got a great cast (Julia Stiles,Heath Ledger,Joseph Gordon-Levitt,Larisa Oleynik, and Larry Miller) It reminds me a bit of Scott Pilgrim in that even actors in the tiny part absolutely nail their performance. I wasn't familiar with the Gil Junger the director, and it seems that his biggest credit prior to 10 Things was directing some episodes of Blossom.

Man, whatever happened to Julia Stiles? She was positioned to be the next Julia Roberts at the beginning of the decade and now it seems she only comes out of hibernation to costar in the Bourne movies every couple years.

Anyways, the movie was pretty great.  The first time I watched this, I didn't really like Heath Ledger. I think that's because I was working in a video store at the time and the manager was always playing A Knight's Tale, and I slowly grew to loathe that movie and everyone involved  with it. But that was a long time ago, and seeing Ledger at this early stage in his career, I can appreciate what a talented actor he was even then.

I've liked Larisa Oleynik ever since The Secret World of Alex Mack, back on Nickelodeon in the 90s. Also, her name is fun to say. She's the second prettiest performer in the movie, right after Joseph Gordon-Levitt who is another actor I've liked for a long time.

If you're not familiar with the movie, it's a modern updating of the Taming of the Shrew. (By the way, I love that Wikipedia has a category for Shakespearean teen films.) Julia Stiles plays Kat Stratford, which is the first of many Shakespeare references. Her performance reminds me of Kristen Bell as Veronica Mars, an impression that was reinforced by a preview for Bell's movie When in Rome that aired before the feature started.

So, Kat's younger sister, Bianca (Oleynik) can't date unless Kat is also dating. New kid in school Cameron (Gordon-Levitt) learns of this, and arranges to have Patrick Verona (Ledger) date Kat so he can go out with Bianca. The story unfolds about like you'd expect it to, with revelation followed by reconciliation, but the cast is so great that the movie rises above the predictable story.

I mentioned that even the small parts are great, and Allison Janney is particularly great as Ms. Perky, the school's guidance councilor. Larry Miller is wonderful as the girl's overprotective father and gets a lot of the good lines: "You're 18, you don't know what you want. And you won't know what you want 'til you're 45, and even if you get it, you'll be too old to use it!"

Dr. Stratford: Hello Katarina. Make anybody cry today?
Kat: Sadly no, but it's only 4:30.

Dr. Stratford: Where's your sister going?
Kat: She's meeting some bikers. Big ones. Full of Sperm.

Bianca: Where did you come from? Planet Loser?
Kat: As opposed to Planet Look-at-Me, Look-at-Me?
Dr. Stratford: [claps] Ok, here's how we solve this one : Old rule out. New rule : Bianca can date [Bianca smiles, Kat with a shocked face] when she does.[he points at Kat]
Bianca: But she's a mutant, what if she never dates?
Dr. Stratford: Then you'll never date. Oh I like that. And I'll get to sleep at night, the deep slumber of a father whose daughters aren't out being impregnated.
Stiles and Oleynik had a real great chemistry together. I could really believe them as sisters, with all the rivalry and affection that goes with that.

Rather bizarrely, I see that ten years after the movie came out, a TV series premiered, with Larry Miller reprising his role. I love that I live in a world where this kind of thing can happen.

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