On National Love People Day, let’s find some things we love, in a movie that loves to hate.
To celebrate this incredibly important national holiday, we’re counting down a top ten list of the best of the ultimate “kiss and make up” film, Ten Things I Hate About You. This is the first and only spoiler warning, so be warned.
Gil Junger’s 1999 adaption of Shakespeare’s 1590 Taming of the Shrew, loves to hate. It’s almost like that saying, “Hurts so good.” Set in the Seattle suburbs, social butterfly Bianca Stratford (Larisa Oleynik) is banned from dating by her overprotective father, unless her older sister, the abrasive and independent Kat, (Julia Stiles) dates as well. To solve this dilemma, a young Joseph Gordon Levitt in the role of Cameron James and his friend convince male model, and grade-A a**hole, Joey (another suitor for Bianca) to pay bad-boy Patrick Verona, the debut lead role for Heath Ledger, to court Kat, as to free up Bianca.
The film is not perfect, and definitely has some material that would not fly today, but this should not take away from all the things this film got right. With morals ahead of its time, and certainly a few unforgettable moments, it is a film worth re-watching on this September 30th.
- The Soundtrack
The film begins with “One Week” by the Barenaked Ladies, which immediately establishes a whimsical and fun tone that resonates throughout the rest of the film. It brilliantly encompasses the late 1990’s high schooler’s mindset. As we are introduced to Kat, Joan Jett’s classic “Bad Reputation” cuts in, ending the grooviness that the Barenaked Ladies had been providing by, as the independent punk rocker takes over the soundtrack, foreshadowing the disjointed relationship that develops between her and her peers throughout the rest of the film. And who can forget about the closing shots of Letters to Cleo Performing “I Want you to Want Me” on the rooftop.
- Good Guy Patrick Verona
Forewarning: this won’t be the only time Heath Ledger makes the list (shocker, I know). When Patrick has vaulted over Kat’s protective walls, the two share a moment where Kat attempts to kiss Patrick. However, in this moment, Patrick has been taking care of Kat after she drank too much at a house party. Patrick refuses Kat’s kiss, and he later admits that she was too drunk in the moment anyways. Drunk hookups are something that exist throughout films, which makes this refusal so far ahead of its time and helps to show the depths of Patrick’s character
- The Cast
It’s amazing looking at who was in this film and what they went on the become. Joseph Gordon Levitt, Heath Ledger, Julia Stiles and Gabrielle Union all saw their careers jumpstarted in 10 Things, and they never looked back.
- Patrick’s Backstory and the Rumors about Him.
As promised, Heath ledger is making another appearance. One of the most entertaining parts of Patrick’s character is the various hearsay surrounding him. His list of rumored accomplishments includes lighting a state trooper on fire, eating a whole duck’s beak and feet, and spending a year in jail. While it may turn out to be legendary stories with no truth, it’s still intriguing to hear all the gossip surrounding him.
- Bianca Punching Joey
On the scale of most appalling villains in cinema, Joey Donner lands somewhere between Voldemort and the xenomorph from Alien. Seeing Bianca give him two good knocks to the face and a knee to the groin for good measure is one of the most satisfying moments in the film, and it adds a layer of empowerment that was mostly absent from the source material. Bravo, screenwriter!
- Shakespeare Homages
While Taming of the Shrew can be seen as problematic, it is fun to see Easter eggs and other, less discreet — if not just blatantly heavy-handed— references to the creator of the work which the film is based on. Patrick’s last name, Verona, is the home of his namesake from the original source material. Cameron and Kat’s respective best friends are also major Shakespeare buffs. When you win a game show with this mostly useless knowledge, remember to send half your winning to DIFF.
- The Locations
There is not a single person who watched this movie and thought the castle-esque building they used as the school was actually a high school. Or at least we would hope not. As it turns out, the location is a real school in Tacoma, WA, called Stadium High School. The scenery and large football stadium are unusually grand visuals for a down to earth, high school rom-com, and add a fantastical element that almost pull us back into the 16th century.
- The Scene
If you’ve seen the movie, you know what I’m talking about. Having inadvertently hurt Kat while trying to do the right thing, Patrick enlists the help of the marching band to serenade the objects of his affections. With this much cheesy high school romance, teen angst, and absurdity all at once, this scene might even leave you missing the ridiculousness of high school a little bit.