Has there ever been a stickier plot line with as many interloping stories as in this film? Possible, but doubtful. 10 Things I hate About You opens with new student Cameron James (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) just getting acquainted with his new surroundings all while being given a guided tour by uber geek Michael (David Krumholz). Along the way he happens to glance upon what he believes to be the most beautiful creature he has ever laid eyes on, Bianca Stratford (Larisa Oleynik). Michael, however, soon warns him that she is off limits due to the fact that her father refuses to let her date. Of course Bianca has no clue that Cameron even exists, and she has her eye on the schools most popular "hottie" Joey Donner (Andrew Keegan). Through a series of misdirections and smooth talking, Bianca somewhat tricks her father into changing the house rule about not dating. The new rule reads that Bianca can date as soon as her sister Kat does. Daddy dearest Walter (comedian Larry Miller), however, is none too concerned. Simply put, Kat Stratford (Julia Stiles) is not exactly the dating kind. This my friends is where things get a little complicated. Cameron wants Bianca. Bianca wants Joey. No one wants Kat. Michael and Cameron devise with a plan. Joey is conned into paying the student bodies token "bad boy" Patrick Verona (Heath Ledger) to date Kat, therefore freeing up Bianca to enjoy the dating scene. I won’t ruin the rest for you, but assuming you read everything that I have written so far, you can guess that there are some fairly significant twists and turns to be enjoyed.
The way I see it, no matter how you slice and dice it, this movie is a good time. It is an all around feel good experience from top to bottom. It really has a bit of everything that one could expect from a movie that falls into its category. Yes, some parts are a bit lame and some might call it a slap in the face to Shakespeare (this is an updated version of his "The Taming of the Shrew"), but those people are digging far too deeply into something that is in essence not meant to be dissected. The acting is quite impressive and we see in this the beginning of what would turn out to be very promising careers from future stars such as Heath Ledger, Julia Stiles, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, David Krumholz, and Gabrielle Union. The chemistry between Ledger and Stiles here is undeniable and they play to each other so naturally that you would think they had been doing so for years.
One thing about this film that I cannot fail to mention is the quality of the soundtrack. Not only is the music impeccably placed, but the song choices are absolutely brilliant in how they fit so perfectly into each specific scene. When you hear Joan Armatrading’s haunting voice singing out "The Weakness In Me," you’re heart simply skips a beat and you experience one of those movie moments that I love so dearly. It’s a moment when it seems as if time stops for a brief second and the only thing that exists is that which is on the screen. Several great live performance by Letters To Cleo strewn throughout the film also add welcome musical interludes and really enhance the mood of what the film is trying to accomplish.
All in all, this film accomplishes exactly what it sets out to accomplish. It entertains. It keeps audiences wanting to watch. People take a genuine interest in what’s going on in and around this crazy story. Most of the acting is fairly top notch and many of the performances stand out quite nicely and are a pleasure to watch. I would recommend this thing to anyone and everyone. Great film, and a testament to the quality of Heath Ledger’s skill set.
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