The title 10 Things I Hate About You just begs for groan-inducing puns about its film's quality. As it turns out, most of them are deserved. Another attempt to carbon copy the formula of the sleeper hit Clueless, which set Jane Austen's Emma among the pastels of modern teenagerhood, 10 Things offers a bubblegum update of William Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew. While one shouldn't look for verisimilitude in a high school comedy, this one is even more of a caricature of real teen life than most. It's asking a lot to consider Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles, the only cast members with genuine presence, the loser outcasts of their school. But what's worse is that they and their cohorts (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Larisa Oleynik) have such confused motivations and wrongheaded impulses that they often act completely out of character, leaving the movie with little internal consistency. Or perhaps it's just that this particular Shakespeare text shouldn't be updated: What father makes a rule that one of his daughters can't date until after the other -- and why would his daughters view this as an insurmountable edict? Still, 10 Things is better than these weakest parts; it has some charming moments mixed in with the extreme teen stereotypes at its core. And it's valuable if only for announcing the arrival of Stiles and Ledger -- she a non-traditional beauty with spunk, he a young Aussie channeling the charm of Mel Gibson. If nothing else, there are at least ten things to like about them.
by Derek Armstrong review