Follow us on

Featured DVD Review: 10 Things I Hate About You - 10th Anniversary Edition

January 2nd, 2010

10 Things I Hate About You - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray

It's been ten years since 10 Things I Hate About You was released? Really? It doesn't seem like it was that long ago. On the other hand, a lot of the cast members have gone on to do really big things since then. The film was nominated for numerous "secondary" awards (Teen Choice, MTV, etc.) but its reviews are only mixed. Is this a film that is aimed solely at the high school set, or does it have more crossover appeal than its Tomatometer Score would indicate?

The film starts with us being introduced to Cameron James, as he is shown around his new school by Michael Eckman and given a brief overview of the various cliques. (Cowboys, White Rastas, etc.) The tour ends when Cameron spots Bianca Stratford and falls instantly in love. There are a couple of issues preventing their perfect romance from blossoming. First, she has a boyfriend, Joey, who is a bit of a jerk. Second, she has a overprotective father, who won't let her date. However, on a spur of the moment decision, her father changes the rule to, "She can date when her sister dates." This is a bit of a problem, as her sister, Kat, has a bit of a reputation. A scary reputation. However, both Cameron and Joey hit on the perfect solution: find someone who would be willing to date the "tempestuous" Kat; someone with a reputation an equal to hers. There is just one such person in the school: Patrick Verona.

At first he's not interested, but after a healthy bribe by Joey he agrees to ask her out. When Kat turns him down, it is up to Cameron to find out what she likes and help Patrick win her heart. But with this plan work? Will Kat fall for Patrick? Will Patrick fall for Kat? Will Patrick's secret deal be revealed? And who will Bianca go out with, Cameron or Joey?

If you've seen any number of romantic comedies, let alone the Shakespeare play that it's based on, then the answers to these questions won't surprise you. However, this is not a genre that depends on originality; what it depends on is its charm. Fortunately, this movie has that in spades. Looking back I still can't believe the cast they assembled for this movie. (In fact, Marcia Ross and Donna Morong earned a Casting Society of America nomination for their work.) This is of course Heath Ledger's American film debut, but it also earned Julia Stiles the Breakthrough Female Performance at the MTV Movie Awards, while Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Larisa Oleynik, and David Krumholtz all picked up nominations. And it is not just the young cast that shines here. Larry Miller is great as the overprotective father, while Daryl Mitchell plays a teacher exhausted by his students antics, and Allison Janney plays the guidance counselor that is too distracted by her "romance" novel to take the time to advise the students.

Behind the camera, this was director Gil Junger's first feature film and his career is still mostly in television. (In fact, he directed some of the episodes for the TV adaptation for this movie, but more on that later.) It was also the first feature film for screenwriting partners Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith, who has since collaborated on such films as Legally Blonde, She's the Man and The House Bunny. They do a good job modernizing the play while giving a few nods to the original. And obviously the story needs to be modernized, as the misogyny is so overwhelming in the original that some have said that it isn't possible that Shakespeare meant it to be taken literally. They took what could have been a collection of clichés and it rose above it. There's a real wit to go with the overwhelming charm of the cast.

On a side note, at the beginning of the movie there's a group of girls driving in their car with the song "One Week" by The Barenaked Ladies, and Kat pulls up listening to Joan Jett's "Bad Reputation". It's meant to show how different she is from most kids her age; however, I mention this because I love both those songs. I guess I would be a hard person to label based on my musical choices.

The DVD has a number of special features not present in the original release, starting with a new audio commentary track that features the two screenwriters, Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith, and four members of the cast, Larisa Oleynik, David Krumholtz, Andrew Keegan, and Susan May Pratt. With so many participants, it comes as no surprise that there's hardly a spot of dead air to be found. They talk about their memories of making the movie, what it is like looking back, how much the cast had done in the 10 years since. Good information, excellent energy. 10 Things I Love About 10 Things I Hate About You 10 Years Later is a retrospective on the movie that features talking heads, clips from the movie, and behind-the-scenes footage. It features new footage, as well as archival footage, the latter of which is a major draw here. It clocks in at a meaty 35 minutes and has serious replay value.

Unfortunately I do not have the Blu-ray, yet, but there appears to be no additional extras and it does cost $7 more. That said, $20 is not a bad price for a catalogue release and if you look it in that way, it is worth picking up, especially since most catalogue titles have no additional extras from the previous DVD release.

Both formats come with a digital copy of the movie.

The Verdict

Quite frankly I was too old for this movie when it first came out, but I had always heard good things about 10 Things I Hate About You, despite what it says on Rotten Tomatoes. The film lives up to its reputation and should please even those who are too old to remember their high school days. Meanwhile, the Special Edition DVD is worth upgrading to, while if you have made the leap to High Definition, the Blu-ray is an excellent deal, for a catalogue title, even if it is a little pricey compared to the DVD. Regardless which format you choose, it is a solid purchase.

Submitted by:

Filed under: Video Review