One of the best examples of the late '90's/early '00's teen film boom, it's hard to believe that it's been a decade since this film hit theaters. The picture, a light redo of "Tale of the Shrew", focuses on sisters Kat (Julia Stiles) and Bianca (Larisa Oleynik), who girls who could not be more different - while Bianca is popular and pretty, Kat is unpopular and vicious to anyone who tries to befriend her.
Bianca has a problem, though - her parents have introduced the rather unexpected rule of her having to wait to date until her sister does (and, as she figures, that probably isn't happening very soon.) Bianca's two potential matches - Cameron James (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Joey Donner (Andrew Keegan) decide to give things a push by setting up Kat with Patrick Verona (the late Heath Ledger, in his first major role.) While they manage to bribe him to go out with Kat, it's not long before Patrick begins to realize that he's actually being won over by her.
The story may be familiar (and elements of it were seen in the same year in "She's All That"), but the light, funny and sharp script by Karen McCullah Lutz And Kirsten Smith ("Legally Blonde") and fine performances from the solid cast allow the film to not only rise above the pack of films from the era, but to hold up fairly well a decade later.
The performances are certainly a highlight, and the film's casting is one of the biggest reasons for its success. Ledger and Stiles are charming in early roles and give the characters more depth and heart than expected. Levitt, Olyenik and a few others (David Krumholtz, Allison Janney and Larry Miller) also deliver amusing supporting performances, too. Director Gil Junger ("Blossom") handles the material with ease, creating memorable scenes and weaving in elements and nods to the original material.
"10 Things" isn't without some issues - the picture has a couple of slow patches in the middle, for example - but as teen films go, it's a sweet and well-acted comedy that still holds up pretty well a decade later.
VIDEO: "10 Things I Hate About You" is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen by Touchstone. The presentation looks just fine, with only a few mild concerns. Sharpness and detail are respectable, as while the presentation did have a hint of softness at times, most scenes looked crisp and detailed.
Additional minor issues popped up at times, with a few traces of pixelation and a couple of instances of edge enhancement seen. Finally, minor wear was also seen on the print used. Colors looked bright and well-saturated, with no smearing or other faults.
SOUND: The film's Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack doesn't offer much in the way of surround use, which is understandable given the material. Still, the film's '90's tunes sounded full and crisp, while dialogue remained clear and well-recorded.
EXTRAS: Writers Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith are joined by actors David Krumholtz, Susan May Pratt, Andrew Keegan and Larisa Oleynik for a newly recorded audio commentary for the film. The group has a great deal of fun chatting about the film and looking back on stories during the production. The group also shares fond memories of working with Ledger. Overall, while the commentary does have a few moments where the group gets caught up - and admits to - watching the movie, this is otherwise an entertaining chat.
"10 Things I Love About 10 Things I Hate About You 10 Years Later" is a reunion documentary that runs a little over 30 minutes. We hear a great deal about the development of the film, casting (Stiles was not picked until the last minute) and other elements of the production. While the cast interviews are taken from around the time of the production, we do get some new interviews from director Gil Junger and the two screenwriters. The documentary does veer into "happy talk" at times, but this is otherwise a sweet look back at the film. Some deleted & casting footage is also seen within.
Final Thoughts: "10 Things I Hate About You" still stands as one of the finer teen comedies of the late '90's/early '00's group of teen films. The 10th Anniversary Edition DVD boasts satisfactory audio/video quality, as well as a pair of nice new extras.
The Film B