10 Things I Hate About You (1999)
October 21, 2014 2:05 PM - Subscribe

THE SPIRIT OF 1999 VIEWING CLUB - In a kind of mashup of Shakespearean drama set in an American High School, 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.
posted by The Whelk (17 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
This movie is the Platonic ideal of "Better than it has to be."
posted by Etrigan at 6:25 PM on October 21, 2014 [10 favorites]

This is both one of my favorite teen movies ever and one I can barely stand to watch again, it hurts so much to see young, goofy Heath Ledger, alive and adorable. His marching-band serenade of "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You" is the stuff of romantic comedy magic.

The casting director deserves a retroactive medal both for assembling a perfect cast and for picking out fantastic young actors: Heath Ledger, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Julia Stiles, David Krumholtz, Gabrielle Union! Though in 1999 I remember being most excited about Larisa Oleynik, who was fresh off The Secret World of Alex Mack. Someday you'll make a comeback, Ms. Mack.
posted by nicebookrack at 9:26 PM on October 21, 2014 [10 favorites]

It was so weird when Larisa Oleynik showed up on Mad Men as Ken's wife but according to IMDB she's got a solid working TV career in shows I don't watch soooo-

This movie is just way better then it has any right to be. Part of it in just in the crazy level of young acting talent they collected, the Director is a solid TV guy who seems to have a cottage industry in teen dramas ( who also directed a TV version of this movie that was on for like a hot second?) but the two not 500-years-dead ago writers are the same female team that did Legally Blonde, another unusually better than it had to be look at a typical plot (Romantic comedy/teen drama with an unlikely heroine).

Like compare this to the typical stuff in the 90s High School Movie boom of the time. Compare it to the similarly-themed She's All That, which is not just bad but kind of actively offensive (the Nostalgia Chick Review) and you can see why it seems to gleam just a little bit brighter than in a vacuum.
posted by The Whelk at 9:43 PM on October 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

I absolutely adore this film. I mean, first of all it takes the fairly sexist source material and turns it into a feminist parable. Every time I watch this, I just love Kat more and more, she is just sort of an incredible vision of the way you can be an actual human being in the very constraining world of school. It's alsso very funny, and has a couple of surreal moments that bring to mind the tone of Gregory's Girl (I'm thinking of the archery scene in particular).

I have a real soft spot for really good "teen" comedies. That list includes Mean Girls and Easy A more recently. If you like this film and haven't seen Easy A, do yourself a favour and check it out.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 12:01 AM on October 22, 2014 [4 favorites]

Gabrielle Union has barely aged since this movie and it FREAKS ME OUT
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:57 AM on October 22, 2014 [4 favorites]

Allison Janney as Ms. Perky!

I'm predisposed to like any project with Allison Janney,
posted by casualinference at 6:03 AM on October 22, 2014 [8 favorites]

I enjoyed this movie so much when it came out; I rewatched it maybe last year, and it holds up really well. (Though it made me a fan of Julia Stiles despite her poor later choices in films.)

I didn't know it was the same writers as Legally Blonde (also great), but that explains a lot.
posted by jeather at 6:07 AM on October 22, 2014 [4 favorites]

Huh, the same people also did She's All That, House Bunny, and The Ugly Truth. Well, that's a disappointment.
posted by jeather at 6:11 AM on October 22, 2014

IIRC M. Night Shyamalan did a lot of uncredited script doctoring/rewrites on She's All That, so lay as much as you like of the praise/blame at his feet for that.
posted by nicebookrack at 7:23 AM on October 22, 2014

One thing I've always found interesting about 10 Things is the Decoy Protagonist switch that was present in the original Taming of the Shrew but is used to even greater effect in this movie. Just check out the IMDB summary: "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." Ostensibly the protagonist is Cameron (JGL) and the plot is about his wacky hijinks to win the heart of the popular girl Bianca (Oleynik). A perfectly nice but bland romcom plot with a nice but bland couple.

But at some point the emphasis shifts off Cameron and Bianca, who it becomes clear are the Beta Couple who are a done deal, and shifts focus to ostensible wacky supporting cast Patrick and Kat, who are the REAL protagonists and whose belligerent sexual tension is much more interesting. It's the romantic comedy equivalent of a horror movie killing the star halfway through the movie.
posted by nicebookrack at 7:48 AM on October 22, 2014 [14 favorites]

Isn't the movie poster a huge giveaway?
posted by jeather at 8:22 AM on October 22, 2014

I love this movie. Everyone is pitch-perfect in their casting, even crusty Larry Miller who is, I believe, playing himself if he didn't go into comedy. Put him and Dan Hedaya in a buddy movie about dads outmaneuvered by their smarter daughters and it'll be comedy gold.

Allison Janney's secretly writing smutty romance novels behind the scenes is also what CJ Cregg would be doing if she still had to work as a publicist for egomaniac Hollywood types. Also? HOT.
posted by aureliobuendia at 10:42 AM on October 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

This movie is just so awesome in so many ways.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:19 AM on October 23, 2014

This exchange (and in particular, the last panel) was something of a guiding light to teenage me. What do you mean, I can refuse to take sexist bullshit and get called a bitch and have it be a good, validating thing?!

Bless this movie. Allison Janney as Ms Perky gets funnier and funnier each time I re-watch.
posted by pseudonymph at 5:13 PM on October 23, 2014 [2 favorites]

I keep forgetting how many things I love about this movie. The little touches, like how it really is Nigel with the brie at the door to the party, pushed in by the crowd. What "Please tell me you haven't progressed to full-on hallucinations," says about Mandella and Kat's worries about Mandella's mental health. The English teacher's barely restrained fury with both his students and injustice. All together they just give this movie some depth and flavour -- a sense that you could make a movie about a half dozen other of these characters and it would just as interesting.

I found the dad more sympathetic than Brows Held High did -- putting together his wife leaving him, with having on obstetrics practice which apparently has it's share of teen moms, I can see how he's just a bit panicked. And I liked how when one of his daughter's argued with him about the rules, he thought of a way to change them (admittedly, not a great way to change them) and basically keep the discussions going with his kids. (And I love his weird worry that with his list of things not to do, he's giving them ideas. Because now that they know it exists, of course they'll want to do animal sacrifice.)

I still wonder, why on earth would Kat want Bianca to make up her own mind about Joey? There's nothing wrong with forewarming people about jerks. And I think knowing that her sister dated him (even without knowing how badly it ended) would probably be enough of a deterrent. I like how in the background Bianca realizes how dumb and boring Joey is by the end of the giant party. (And I can see her wondering as he demonstrates that he doesn't know "pensive" means "thoughtful".) Even as she's being asked to prom, she's trying to blow him off in the nicest way possible. (She's still not sure she wants to be or knows how to be as mean as her sister.)

It's also always fun to Seattle and Tacoma in movies -- the Puget Sound by Stadium High*, the view from Queen Anne (the only place where the Space Needle lines up in front of Downtown), the Troll. The paddleboat looked out of place on Lake Union instead of Greenlake, but I guess a double kayak just isn't the same cinematically. I still wish Gasworks park had paintball.

*My father-in-law worked on the renovation a few years after this movie was made.
posted by Margalo Epps at 12:27 PM on October 24, 2014 [5 favorites]

This is tied with Clueless for my classic-meets-high-school favorite movie.
posted by RainyJay at 7:58 AM on October 28, 2014

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