Teens Finally Appreciate Shakespeare
By Jennifer B., Fredericton High School, Fredericton, NB
10 Things I Hate About You
Touchstone Pictures (1999)
It's hilarious, entertaining, appeals to teens everywhere, and it's Shakespeare. Some might say, "Shakespeare? Appealing to teens, I don't think so!" But it's true. 10 Things I Hate About You is a modern adaptation of William Shakespeare's play, The Taming of the Shrew and yes, teenagers love it.
10 Things I Hate About You is set in modern day. Bianca Stratford is a pretty popular, boy crazy, high school sophomore. Sounds like the perfect girlfriend right? There's only one problem; she's not allowed to date until her older, unpopular, boy-hating sister finds a match of her own. Cameron, Bianca's secret admirer has the perfect plan. It's simple, get the rich kid, Joey, to pay the bad boy, Patrick, to take Bianca's sister, Kat, out and make Joey think he's the one who gets the girl. But since when have high school romances been this simple? 10 Things I Hate About You explores the hilariously, sarcastic, twisted minds of teenagers and the lengths they'll go to get what they want.
The characters definitely make this movie what it is. From Kat's hostile, sarcastic humour, to Bianca's preppy, cluelessness, these sisters are like night and day. All of the characters in this movie have unique personalities. Their personalities are evident from the beginning of the movie and are expressed through the clothes they wear. Picture Bianca and Kat, Bianca spends most of the movie wearing tiny sun dresses that just cover enough and Kat prides her individualism and outspoken opinions with cargo pants and army tank tops. Near the beginning of the movie, rich, preppy, Joey pulls up along side of Kat in his obviously expensive car and says, "Your little Rambo look is out Kat." Not missing a beat, Kat quickly replies with "run along." Although this is just a short scene of the movie, it really says a lot about the characters. Joey is a trend slave, always ready to criticize and Kat couldn't care less what other people think. One thing is for sure, Joey and Kat definitely don't see eye to eye.
Who would have thought teenagers have feelings, opinions, and aren't all just sheep following the herd? This movie convinces its audience of its reality by the feelings the characters have. Although some of them may seem perfect, in all reality, they are only human. This character trait is revealed in their wants and the ways they manipulate and use each other to get them.
You may find it hard to believe that a single father would place one of his daughter's love life in the hands of her sister. I wouldn't believe it myself if Larry Miller hadn't done such an excellent job at playing Bianca and Kat Stratford's father. Mr. Stratford is an uptight father; paranoid of his daughter's getting pregnant. These character traits are portrayed perfectly when he makes Bianca wear "the belly," a fat and heavy body suit designed to let girls know all the responsibilities and weight they have to carry around when pregnant. Another great aspect Julia Stiles, Larisa Oleynik, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Heath Ledger, and Andrew Keegan, the actors who play the five main teenagers in the movie bring to 10 Things I Hate About You and the reality of it all is that they were actually teenagers when they played the roles of Kat, Bianca, Cameron, Patrick, and Joey.
Gil Junger, the director of 10 Things I Hate About You actually broke into directing feature films with this movie. Although it was his first movie, he did a terrific job. Part of the brilliance of Junger's acting ability is that you can tell by the bloopers at the end of the movie that everyone on set had fun. This may not seem important to the making of a movie but with all the stress and hard work that goes into making a movie, keeping the atmosphere on set light and cheery really helps, especially when the movie is supposed to be hilarious. Another reason Junger did such an astounding job on this remake of Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew is that he knew the play so well. You can tell how much Junger must have studied the play to create his own version and direct the actors in becoming their character.
Try and think of a good movie with no soundtrack. You can't, because there is none. A great soundtrack makes for a great movie and that is exactly what 10 Things I Hate About You has. The music sets the mood for whatever scene it accompanies whether it is supposed to be sad or exciting, the soundtrack applies perfectly.
The message behind this movie is revealed when Kat reads her poem in front of the class. The message is obvious but some people may loose track of it while trying to count if there actually are 10 Things Kat hates about Patrick. The message in the end is that no matter how much she hates the things he did, she doesn't hate him, "not even a little bit, not even at all."
10 Things I Hate About You is the perfect balance between Shakespeare and what it's like to be a teenager. Although the movie is set in modern day high school, its foundation is based on The Taming of the Shrew and wouldn't have been possible without that fabulous play.
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