10 Things I Hate About You is one of your typical teenage romantic comedy, loosely based on William Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew. Taking place over a semester with the introduction of new kid on the block Cameron (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and culminating in the school prom, the movie has a surprising number of sight gags and plenty of pop music throughout, so much so that it really does have a bloated soundtrack which seem to give a whole extended music video feel to it all.
As with plenty of the Bard's stories, there's quite an ensemble cast assembled, starting with the Shrew herself Kat (Julia Stiles) and Bianca Stratford (Larisa Oleynik), two sisters who are living under their father's strict house rules of no dating until graduation. Despite Dad's ultra protective nature in having his daughters live out his worst fear of being impregnated, the rules do get modified - Bianca can date if Kat dates, and that in itself is a tall order given Kat's nasty I-don't-give-a-damn attitude.
And the suitors in competition are none other than Cameron, who's after Bianca, and his rival the school heartthrob Joey (Andrew Keegan). As with Shakespeare's stories, expect a little strategizing and some mistaken intentions at certain points, with Patrick Verona (Heath Ledger with that trademarked frizzy hair) being roped by the two men to woo Kat, thereby freeing them to go after the girl of their dreams.
Without gazing into the crystal ball, you'll know that Patrick will probably fall for Kat for real, and thereby complicating matters, affecting even his own chances. For the most parts I thought where in the movie will the title be referenced, because it doesn't seem to be the case, but when it finally is included into the plot, it's actually quite an emotional, moving piece.
The introduction perhaps inspired Pretty Persuasion, with the orientation of the rookie in the school premises, pointing out the various cliques and school politics. The supporting casts, especially the school teachers, were fun and totally opposite what you might consider proper conduct. And I thought it was pretty fluffy material until the romance between Patrick and Kat touched upon impressions, and the building of walls as a defense mechanism to fragile hearts. I thought that was a pretty frank outlook, with the characters mentioning it as a matter of fact.
Still, don't expect the masterpiece although it's based on a classical play. The editing and narrative flow do seem to be choppy at times, with transitions proved to be quite abrupt, allowing me to suspect that some scenes ended up on the cutting room floor for some reason, except to smoothen the flow. It's quite jarring and sticks out like a sore thumb, but nonetheless it's still a fairly enjoyable movie for a lazy weekend afternoon.
Code 3 DVD from Touchstone Home Video is a barebones letterboxed edition in aspect ration 1.85:1. Subtitles are available in English, Mandarin, Bahasa and Korean, and scene selection is over 22 chapters. Given the number of outtakes shown during the end credits, there are a number of deleted scenes which sadly, were not included in this DVD release.