Reviewed by Colin Jacobson

Title: 10 Things I Hate About You (1999)
Studio Line: Disney - How Do I Loathe Thee? Let Me Count The Ways.

A cool cast of young stars is just one of the things you’ll love about this hilarious comedy hit! On the first day at his new school, Cameron (Joseph Gordon–Levitt – Halloween: H20, TV’s 3rd Rock From The Sun) instantly falls for Bianca (Larisa Oleynik – The Baby-Sitters Club), the gorgeous girl of his dreams! The only problem is that Bianca is forbidden to date...until her ill-tempered, completely un-dateable older sister Kat (Julia Stiles – Wide Awake) goes out, too! In an attempt to solve his problem, Cameron singles out the only guy who could possibly be a match for Kat: a mysterious bad-boy (Heath Ledger) with a nasty reputation of his own! Also featuring a hip soundtrack – this witty comedy is a wildly entertaining look at exactly how far some guys will go to get a date!

Director: Gil Junger
Cast: Heath Ledger, Julia Stiles, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Larisa Oleynik, David Krumholtz, Andrew Keegan
Box Office: Budget: $16 million. Opening Weekend: $8.33 million (2271 screens). Domestic Gross: $38.176 million.
DVD: Widescreen 1.85:1; audio English DD 5.1, French DD 5.1; subtitles none; closed-captioned; single sided - single layered; 22 chapters; rated PG-13; 97 min.; $29.99; street date 10/12/99.
Supplements: Theatrical Trailer.
Purchase: DVD | DVD Combo | Music soundtrack - Various Artists

Picture/Sound/Extras: A-/B+/D-

For the past few years, many movies have tried harder than usual to interest and entice the ever-powerful teenage audience. As part of that target group, I lived through a previous period during which a similar trend took place back in the mid-1980s. That's when John Hughes' inane teen comedies soared at the box office, and other even crummier movies ripped off his style of breezy, vaguely hip, curiously romantic pictures for the high school set.

None did it as well as Hughes, but I never thought that he did it all that well himself. Despite that, some of his films have gone on to achieve mini-classic status. Why do so many people seem to revere Ferris Bueller's Day Off? Damned if I know - it stunk thirteen years ago, it stinks now. I suspect a lot of it's due to the nostalgia factor, since so many of us grew up on those Hughes epics. (Apparently being a bitter old bastard makes me immune to that problem.)

I wonder if today's teens will look back as fondly on the cheap high school flicks they've been inundated with over the last few years. Since the Hughes movies seem to be viewed with such affection, it's clear that the actual quality of the film doesn't matter, so I suppose it's possible that even something like 10 Things I Hate About You may ultimately attain high regard.

However, that's not too likely. For one, the movie didn't do too well theatrically, and it doesn't offer much that would make those who did see it remember it fondly. It's largely a generic piece of teen tripe.

Theoretically, it aspires to more since it's a Nineties update on The Taming of the Shrew. To show us how clever they are, the filmmakers toss in all sorts of "subtle" Shakespeare references like naming some of the characters Verona or Stratford and having them attend Padua High. These references probably were lost on the target audience and likely just made those who did get them cringe.

Much of the first half of 10 Things... also made me cringe. It did its best to provide a crude and humorless experience. Of course, the crudeness was supposed to also be humorous, but it didn't quite work out that way. When a movie starts with a shot of a school counselor writing a steamy romance novel, that's not a good sign, and it only went downhill from there; what kind of society do we live in where a teenager drawing a penis and testicles on the cheek of another kid is deemed hilarious? Maybe the apocalypse is coming.

The film rebounds during the second half as it concentrates more on the romantic aspects of the story instead of the distasteful wackiness. While the plot is frightfully predictable - never for a second is any moment of the film in doubt - I thought these parts worked pretty well, mainly because of the surprisingly high-caliber performances of the young actors. Together, they're all very good and they make the film much more palatable than it otherwise would have been. I don't foresee any Oscar nominations but at least the performers managed to rise above the terrible script and make the proverbial silk purse out of the sow's ear.

Still, this isn't much of a movie, and not one I imagine I'll want to watch again. I made it through it and at least it ended positively, but I didn't care for the film. I hope we get to see the talented actors in more positive circumstances in the future, because 10 Things... is basically a stinker.

The DVD:

The DVD release from Touchstone doesn't do a whole lot to rise above the pack either; it's a fairly average offering. Probably its strongest point is its pretty good picture quality. 10 Things... presents the movie in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 on this single-sided, single-layered DVD; it is not enhanced for widescreen televisions.

All in all, the picture looks very sharp and maintains good focus under virtually all circumstances. The image also seems very clean with no grain, marks, or print flaws detected, although motion artifacts occasionally rear their ugly heads; the picture sometimes seemed a little "spottier" than it should due to those.

Everything else looks great, though. The film offers a nice palette of colors and they always appear extremely bold and strong, especially in the variety of reddish hues that we see in the characters' clothes. Shadow detail and black levels are also always very rich and deep. While the lack of anamorphic enhancement is a drawback, at least the image itself looks very good.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of 10 Things... also is quite good, though it barely qualifies for the "5.1" status. The surround channels receive little usage and mainly offer some ambient fill for the nearly omnipresent rock or rap music that plays; other than that, I detected exactly one split surround effect (when actor Larry Miller accidentally releases a rubber exercise band and it flies to the rear right speaker).

While they didn't make much use of the rears, the sound designers did a great job with the front speakers. 10 Things... boasts a tremendously wide front soundstage that does its job so well I barely missed the lack of surrounds; it really opens up the image exceedingly well. Also, the quality of the audio was always topnotch. Dialogue, music and effects sounded simply splendid. The appearance of the music was especially important since so much of the action is backed with different songs, and though the low end occasionally seems slightly weak, the music usually sounds terrific and displays strong dynamic range. I had to drop my grade to a "B+" because of the lack of surround usage, but the audio track for 10 Things... seemed very satisfying nonetheless.

Much less positive is the complement of supplements on this DVD. There's a decent trailer, and that's it. Boo!

While this DVD offers pretty good picture and sound, the lack of supplements is a disgrace. Not that I expect even a full-fledged special edition would have made 10 Things I Hate About You worth owning. The movie ranges from puerile to simply predictable and is made watchable only through the charming and effective performances of its young castmembers. Despite that one saving grace, 10 Things... offers little of interest and is a film you probably skip.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.7483 Stars Number of Votes: 151
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