Oh, the ’90s; When Joseph Gordon-Levitt was just a baby, Heath Ledger was still gracing the earth with his presence and Julia Stiles‘ career was on the rise. The late ’90s was also prime time for taking Shakespeare and giving him a modern make-over after Baz Luhrmann‘s success with his ultra-stylized Romeo + Juliet (1996). 10 Things I Hate About You leaves Shakespeare’s language behind, but the story is still very much The Taming of the Shrew, just like Clueless is Emma in disguise.
Not all make-overs were as much of a success as Luhrmann’s. O springs instantly to mind, but the effort is still to be applauded. Mostly because when it does work it delivers films like 10 Things…, filled with humour, great dialogue, unpolished acting talent and a love for storytelling, old school style.
Having seen 10 Things… back when it came out and loved it does not take away from the experience of watching it today. Heath Ledger is still as wonderfully gifted and charming as we remembered (how we miss you!), Joseph Gordon-Levitt is adorable though it must be said that his acting talent has developed heaps and Larisa Oleynik manages to steer clear of copying Silverstone‘s Cher from Clueless. Susan May Pratt is right for her small but enjoyable part and so is David Krumholtz. Julia Stiles, however, is the star of the show, sporting raw acting talent unrivalled by her wet-behind-the-ears co-stars, reminding all that she could easily have become the biggest star in Hollywood.
The ’90s itself is another star of this show, gracing every frame with great music, awful-yet-amazingly-cool clothing and love for all things teen-ish. There is respect for teenagers in this film, they don‘t talk like idiots but like young intellectuals (while still remaining believable, unlike Dawson’s Creek). They have interests beyond sex and popularity, they are individuals and that’s why the characters feel like old friends. Is this a Taming of the Shrew for Shakespeare fanatics? Probably not, but it is a great way to introduce old Will to newcomers and it is a great feel-good film. What more could one ask for?
Final verdict: 10 Things I Hate About You is a ’90s film through and through highlighting all the pros of the era, the young talent on the rise, the great scriptwriting and the love for all things teen. A feel-good film just as effective as when it came out.