Another day, another teen movie. But this one’s quite good, as it gives the teens depth & emotions, even if it does contain the usual stuff.
This may be a modern-set teen movie based on an old play and released 15 years ago, but the similarities with She’s All That end there. Mostly.
An updated telling of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, which the title slightly hints at, 10 Things was penned by screenwriting partners Karen McCullah Lutz & Kirsten Smith inspired partly by something from Lutz’s high school diary, 10 Things I Hate About Anthony. Modernizing Shakespeare’s plays is a cottage industry at this point, and this version takes the basic structure and theme and then lays a teen comedy on top of it. But that’s fine.
What raises this above standard teen fare is not the film’s roots in the play. It’s partly a success because the characters, while archetypes, aren’t caricatures, or at least not merely caricatures. Everyone comes with their own label, and it’s limiting, but most of the significant characters have more under the surface than their packaging.
The main reason the picture works, though, is simply the talented young actors. Sure, they’re too old to play high schoolers, but that can be said of most of these films.
Julia Stiles is particularly fine as Kat, an intelligent young woman with an edge that the filmmakers wisely chose not to blunt. She may have one of the best roles a teen protagonist got in the 1990’s.
Heath Ledger oozes charisma, although his accent is poorly hidden. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is utterly charming as the smitten Cameron. Only the character of Bianca is under-written and Larisa Oleynik consequently doesn’t have much to do.
David Krumholtz is at his best here. I love his shtick. And Allison Janney damn near steals the whole movie.
Directed by first-timer Gil Junger, 10 Things isn’t brilliant or anything, but it’s a well-made, enjoyable coming of age comedy. It has pretty good acting, it’s funny and while it employs all of the teen comedy set pieces, it doesn’t feel enslaved by them.
The Representation Test Score: A (12 pts)
|Main Cast||Heath Ledger Patrick Verona, Julia Stiles Kat Stratford, Joseph Gordon-Levitt Cameron James, Larisa Oleynik Bianca Stratford|
|Release Date||Wed 31 Mar 1999 UTC|
|Genres||Comedy, Drama, Romance|
|Plot||A new kid must find a guy to date the meanest girl in school, the older sister of the girl he has a crush on, who cannot date until her older sister does.|
|Tagline||There are so many different ways to hate. Count them yourself.|
|Writers||Karen McCullah (written by) &, Kirsten Smith (written by)|