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Cherry Pop

'10 Things I Hate About You (10th Anniversary)'
(Joseph Gordon-Levitt, David Krumholtz, Julia Stiles, et al / 2-Disc DVD / PG-13 / (1999) 2009 / Touchstone)

Overview: It's, like, Shakespeare, man! This good-natured and likeable update of The Taming of the Shrew takes the basics of Shakespeare's farce about a surly wench and the man who tries to win her and transfers it to modern-day Padua High School.

DVD: For all its hip dialogue and contemporary ideologies, "10 Things I Hate About You" uses a plot so ancient that the very thought of it conjures up images of studio executives passing out scripts made of papyrus scrolls. Amazingly enough, thanks to a few smart touches and a competent cast, the film retains an undeniable charm that is felt throughout most of the movie.

The chemistry between Julia Stiles and Heath Ledger is the high point of the film. Their romance is genuine and effective and at times I wished that their characters would head out for the horizon instead of staying locked down to the conventions of the story, which remains frustratingly faithful to the traditional boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl formula.

Simultaneously, the screenwriters have also found time to incorporate an assembly line of scenes found in almost every other high school romantic comedy including an obligatory party sequence and an emotional climax at the prom. The only moment of pure originality finds Ledger's character dancing across the bleachers of the school's football stadium whilst professing his love for the Stiles character.

All of this is allegedly based on William Shakespeare's "The Taming of the Shrew", but it is more or less used as a crutch and a platform for a series of not-so-subtle winks at the camera. For example, most of the action takes place at the fictitious Padua High School and the two leads are named Patrick Verona and Katarina Stratford. The whole effect feels contrived and the picture would have been better off without it.

Nevertheless, we still have Stiles and Ledger at the center and complimenting their performances is a breezy soundtrack and a few praiseworthy supporting players, including Allison Janney as a horny high school counselor and Daryl "Chill" Mitchell as a passionate English teacher who raps the words of Shakespeare to great effect. Imagine if the writers had taken a cue from the Mitchell character and turned the project into a Shakespeare-inspired rap musical. That would have been interesting! [JRW] This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.77:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

10 Things I Love About '10 Things I Hate About You' 10 Years Later – Ten years after the film’s initial debut, we’ll sit with the director Gil Junger, and writers Kirsten Smith and Karen Lutz to reflect and hear the story about how this classic teen comedy came to be. Through these interviews and never-before-seen behind the scenes footage, original cast interviews, deleted scenes, original screen test and personal photos from the writers’ scrap books we will tell the remarkable story of this smash hit and why everyone loves '10 Things I Hate About You.'
I Want You To Want Me: The 10 Things I Hate About You Screen Tests — Viewers are invited into the casting office for an insiders look at the screen tests that won actors Heath Ledger, Julia Styles, Larisa Oleynik and Susan May Pratt their classic roles. This featurette includes an introduction by director Gil Junger and writers Kirsten Smith and Karen Lutz.
Audio Commentary with co-writers Karen Lutz and Kirsten Smith, and stars Andrew Keegan, David Krumholtz, Larisa Oleynik and Susan May Pratt.