“We can all dance when we find music that we love.”
High school comedy and Shakespeare is not always a good combination (I’m looking at you, She’s the Man), but it does have to be said that 10 Things I Hate About You is, if nothing else, a good hour and a half of inoffensive, entertaining brain fluff. This fact is possibly remarkable when you remember that it’s adapted from The Taming of the Shrew, easily Shakespeare’s most problematic and rage-inducing play.
The plot is fairly standard teen rom-com fare, if a little convoluted. Bianca and Katerina are sisters: everyone wants to go out with Bianca, no-one wants to go out with the opinionated Kat. Their slightly over-concerned father therefore tells Bianca that she can date when Kat does; so one of the more obnoxious characters at the sisters’ high school pays Patrick Verona (played by Heath Ledger, who is essentially the film’s selling point) to take the difficult Kat out so he, Obnoxious Rich Boy, can date Bianca.
Probably you can see where this is going. It’s exactly the kind of thing that could so easily go badly wrong, but in actual fact it’s rather sweet, with unexpected touches like the flashmob version of “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” and The West Wing‘s Allison Janney as a rather unconventional guidance counsellor. It is a short film, though, so occasionally everything seemed a little rushed; another twenty minutes might have cleared that up, but then it might also have pushed the film from endearing to tedious. As it is, it’s a great film to have on in the background on a Sunday afternoon when you’re trying to remember how to knit.