10 Things I Hate About You - * 1/2*

10 Things I Hate About You

Ten Things I Hate About 10 Things I Hate About You:

10. The Downsizing of Shakespeare. Poor William Shakespeare. Who’d have thought his plays could sink so low. 10 Things I Hate About You is loosely (very loosely) based upon his play, The Taming of the Shrew. Updated to a modern high school setting, the movie strips away virtually all of the dialogue, characterizations and plot. What’s left? Some vaguely recognizable names: instead of Katharina, we are given Kat (Julia Stiles); instead of Petruchio, the film gives us Patrick (Heath Ledger); and, in place of Lucentio, we get the plain Cameron (Joseph Gordon-Levitt). And, well, that’s about it. In place of Shakespeare’s finely crafted comic plot, we get:

9. The Plot That Wouldn’t Die. You may remember it most recently from She’s All That, and from countless other films. In short, Patrick is dared (or in this case paid) to date the shrewish Kat. Along the way, the two fall in love…but eventually his terrible secret must come out. When it does, the couple is driven apart, only to realize their true love for each other and come back together. Fade to black. Whew!

8. Whiplash Relationships. 10 Things I Hate About You must have decided that one hot-and-cold relationship wasn’t enough for a film. So, in addition to the maelstrom of Patrick and Kat, we have the sweet-and-sour relationship of Kat and her sister Bianca (Larisa Oleynik). Then there’s the affections of Cameron for Bianca that range from love to indifference and back again. Now, throw in another student, Joey (Andrew Keegan), who has love and hate relationships with both Bianca and Kat. And we haven’t even started to look at the secondary characters! You need a scorecard to keep track of who’s hating whom at every moment of the film.

7. Teen cliches. Luckily, if you’re completely confused by the ever changing character allegiances, there’s one thing you can count on: the omnipresent cliches. 10 Things I Hate About You doesn’t just present them and move on, no, it revels in every predictable detail. From absolutely cartoonish archetypical students, to the “standard” events in any teen movie (including not only a wild party, but even the prom), this film has them all. It handles itself better than other recent teen flicks, but not by much.

6. A Horrendous Lack of Pacing. Have you ever seen a comic with absolutely no sense of timing? That’s the same feeling you get when watching this movie, which leaves a pregnant pause after every other line of dialogue. What little humor there is doesn’t take that long to digest, nor is it inclined to provoke plot obscuring bouts of laughter.

5. The Interaction Between Patrick and Kat. The two characters have perhaps the best dialogue exchanges in the movie. However, it not only pales in comparison to Shakespeare’s original wordplay, but makes the rest of the movie’s dialogue look terrible in comparison. Rather than being sharp, cruel and biting, most of the screenplay’s wit is rather limp.

4. An Overwhelming Sense of Falseness. Whether the film is trying to be spontaneous, happy or sad, the film’s scenes just don’t quite ring true. You’re always aware that these are actors reading from a script; you never get lost in the characters. Nowhere is it more evident than in the acting of…

3. Julia Stiles. She’s able to display emotions, but she never truly expresses them (a fact that is particularly evident during one of her final speeches). Stiles never seems to fit her part…whether she’s being shrewish or sweet, it all seems to be an act. It further distances us from the movie.

2. The Scarcity of Larry Miller, as the father of Kat and Bianca. His scenes provide the few genuine moments of humor present in the whole movie. 10 Things I Hate About You certainly could have used more of him, or at least more characters as entertaining as him. The film tries to spice things up with a romance novel-writing guidance counselor (Allison Janney), and a hip-hop English teacher (Daryl “Chill” Mitchell)…but fails, miserably.

And, the thing I hated most about 10 Things I Hate About You: 1. The Fact That It Inspired Me To Write My Review In This Ridiculous Format. Enough said.

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