[Screen It]


(1999) (Julia Stiles, Heath Ledger) (PG-13)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
Moderate Minor Heavy None Minor
Moderate None None Minor Moderate
Smoking Tense Family
Topics To
Talk About
Moderate Mild Mild Mild Mild

Romantic Comedy: The new kid in school, who's smitten with a pretty girl whose father won't let her date until her older, cynical sister does, tries to get a sullen and mysterious student to date that caustically aloof senior so that he can see her younger sister.
Cameron James (JOSEPH-GORDON LEVITT) is the new kid at Padua High School and Michael Eckman (DAVID KRUMHOLTZ), the highly personable, but somewhat nerdy audio/video guy, shows him the ropes of student life there.

Upon first sighting Bianca Stratford (LARISA OLEYNIK), a pretty sophomore, Cameron immediately falls in love, but Michael tells him she's out of their league and besides, the word is that the Stratford girls don't date. The truth is that Dr. Walter Stratford (LARRY MILLER), the girls' overprotective, single dad, has declared that Bianca can't date until Katarina (JULIA STILES), her older, cynical, and socially unpopular older sister, begins to.

Thus, Cameron finds himself faced with two problems. Not only is Kat -- who's an attractive senior but with a caustic and barbed, nonconformist attitude -- not interested in dating, but it turns out that Cameron has some romantic competition. It seems that Joey Donner (ANDREW KEEGAN), the school's self-proclaimed stud and pompous model, has also set his sights on Bianca.

Hoping to beat Joey to Bianca's heart, and learning of her predicament, Cameron decides he'll just get someone to date Kat and thus eliminate that restriction. The problem is, nobody wants to go out with her due to her ill-tempered demeanor. With Michael's help, however, they decide upon Patrick Verona (HEATH LEDGER), a mysterious, long-haired Australian whose rumored wild man reputation proceeds him.

Although Heath initially wants nothing to do with that, Michael tells Joey about Bianca's situation, causing that rich kid to offer to pay Patrick to date Kat so that he can get to Bianca. While she immediately refuses Patrick's advances, he eventually starts to melt her icy demeanor. From that point on, it's anyone's guess as to whether Kat will go on a date, and if she does, who will get to Bianca first.

Beyond Joseph-Gordon Levitt (of TV's "3rd Rock From the Sun") there are no big names that will draw in kids, but the fact that it's a teen-based romantic comedy may just have that age group flocking to the theaters in droves.
For crude sex-related humor and dialogue, alcohol and drug-related scenes, all involving teens.
  • JULIA STILES plays a cynical, nonconformist high school senior whose refusal to follow teenage norms and customs stems from having had sex in the ninth grade just because everyone else was doing it. As such she comes off as rather standoffish and aloof, but in an intelligent way. In one scene she gets rather drunk.
  • LARISA OLEYNIK plays her younger sister, an occasionally self-centered sophomore who desperately wants to date guys and is mad at both Kat and their dad for preventing her from doing that.
  • HEATH LEDGER plays the mysterious and sullen student who agrees to go on a date with Kat in exchange for money, but ends up truly falling for her.
  • JOSEPH-GORDON LEVITT plays the new student who falls for Bianca and sets up an elaborate plan to allow him to date her.
  • ANDREW KEEGAN plays the school's self-proclaimed stud who sets his sights on deflowering Bianca.


    OUR TAKE: 7.5 out of 10
    Contrary to what most people think, film critics actually like going to the movies. We really want every film we see to be good (well, okay, except for some of those that have Roman numerals in their titles) and hope that we'll have as much fun and be as entertained as the typical moviegoer.

    Unfortunately, much of what we see is quite bad, sometimes to the point of being insulting. As such, reviewing movies is somewhat analogous to eating out all of the time without getting to choose what you order. If that doesn't happen that often it's tolerable, and while one bad movie or meal isn't that horrible for the occasional diner or moviegoer, repeated bad -- or even mediocre -- experiences soon become grating. Thus, writing harsh reviews -- our version of a complaint about a bad meal -- becomes quite easy to do.

    That said, I went into the screening of Touchstone Pictures' "10 Things I Hate About You" believing I'd probably have a response similar in tone to its title. Much to my surprise -- and probably to you after reading such a foreboding introduction -- what I thought would be yet another stereotypical, bland and tasteless teen comedy concoction turns out to be anything but.

    Although it's not perfect and might not become one of the quintessential teen romantic comedies, its smart writing (courtesy of first-timers Karen McCullah Lutz & Kirsten Smith), winning performances and an upbeat, soundtrack-driven tempo clearly makes it one of the best films of this genre to come down the pike in quite some time.

    While it may sound like any number of similar plotted films that have been recently released hoping to make a quick buck off cash holding teens, this film is the equivalent of trying a standard meal at a new restaurant. Sure, you know what you're getting, but if it's prepared with the right amounts of care and diligence, the end result can be quite sumptuous.

    Awkwardly named after a touchingly sweet poem read near its conclusion, the film sets itself apart in several ways from those other recent genre entries. Unlike films such as "She's All That" and "Varsity Blues," this one manages to entertain a much wider audience than its given target range. While the multilayered plot -- despite being a variation of the classic "The Taming of the Shrew" -- isn't particularly spectacular and is mostly predictable, the more mature and intelligent way in which it's executed provides a strong foundation from which everything else can stem.

    That particularly relates to the richly drawn characters and situational humor that arises from their behavior and goals. While the characters played by Julia Stiles ("Wicked") and Heath Ledger (the TV series "Roar") could have been written as the usual teen stereotypes and the performers could have done their roles by rote, the opposite is true.

    Playing two outsiders whose reputations somewhat unjustly proceed them, Stiles and Ledger bring a certain depth and even an innocense to their smartly written characters that easily sets them apart from typical lead roles found in such movies. When the chemistry between the two finally develops in a pleasant and realistic fashion, you won't be able to help from smiling as they finally hit it off together.

    The second tier of performers is good, but clearly not as superbly defined as their counterparts. Although the character played by Andrew Keegan ("Independence Day") is the stereotypical lech and could have used more comic refinement, the ones played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt (TV's "3rd Rock From the Sun") and Larisa Oleynik (TV's "The Secret World of Alex Mack") are decent in their construction and the performers inhabit them in likeable and personable ways.

    The true scene stealers, however, come from a trio of performers who've been given the best material with which to work. Daryl Mitchell (TV's "Veronica's Closet) is quite funny as the wisecracking high school teacher who has a low, but comic threshold for Joey, and David Krumholtz (who was easily the funniest thing in "The Slums of Beverly Hills") is quite good as Cameron's faux confident friend.

    It's Larry Miller ("Pretty Woman"), though, as the girls' extremely overprotective father who steals the show. While his is also something of a stereotypical character (the single, cautious father), the writing is sharp enough and his performance is just right so that you don't mind the lack of originality. From telling Kat that his auto insurance doesn't cover PMS after she purposefully smashes Joey's car, to making Bianca wear a pregnancy simulator vest to remind her of the potential consequences of dating, Miller gets the best lines and elicits the biggest laughs.

    It's all of that supplemental comedy material -- as helmed by veteran TV director Gil Junger (making his feature film debut) -- that really helps the film be a winning success (and make sure you stick around for the out-takes during the closing credits). While there's the obligatory but enjoyable soundtrack, some plot elements that don't always ring true -- particularly those involving the whole matter of Joey paying Patrick exorbitant sums of money to date Kat -- and some moments where the film partially flounders, for the most part it feels fresh and is always enjoyable.

    Finally, when Patrick breaks into a musical like moment where he serenades Kat with the number, "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" as accompanied by the school's marching band, your heart will certainly melt as easily as Kat's and your smile will be as big as or bigger than hers. That's what romantic comedies are all about, and for that reason we give the enjoyably infectious "10 Things I Hate About You" a 7.5 out of 10.

    Here's a brief summary of the content found in this PG-13 rated film. Non-explicit sexually related talk and some visual jokes occur during the film, and include some passages from a stereotypically, steamy romance novel. While no sexual activity occurs during the film, a student plans to deflower one girl, while another briefly recounts having had sex in the ninth grade.

    Profanity consists of 6 uses of the "s" word, some slang terms for male genitals, and other words and colorful phrases. Student drinking occurs in one scene, with a major and miscellaneous character being or getting drunk at a party. Some pot is confiscated from a student by a teacher (but isn't used), and other brief drug references also occur.

    Bad attitudes are heavy due to one character having a cynical standoffishness, while another character plots to deflower a younger girl and pays someone to date her older sister so that the younger one can start dating and thus be available for his plan.

    Beyond some brief smoking, and a bit of violence (that includes some punching and people accidently being struck by arrows or golf balls), the rest of the film is relatively void of major objectionable content. Nonetheless, should you still be concerned about the film's appropriateness for anyone in your home, you may want to take a closer look at the listed content.

  • As Michael shows Cameron around the school and points out some would-be Rastafarians, it sounds like someone mentions smoking weed (pot).
  • Offhand jokes are made about one of Walter's young patients who just gave birth being "all doped up" and "a crack whore."
  • A student comments that he's never "been that ripped" (drunk) to agree to go on a date with Kat.
  • Some bikers have beer in a bar as does Patrick.
  • Young women in a club have drinks as does Patrick.
  • Students arrive at a party with kegs of beer and we then see more students inside who are drinking, including Michael, Joey, Bianca and a friend of hers.
  • At that party, an inebriated girl comes up to Patrick and says "Kiss me," but he hands her off to another student who does so and then ends up dropping her to the floor.
  • Kat drinks several shots of tequila and is then noticeably drunk, dances on a table, and then later throws up.
  • Spotting a student who seems edgy, sweaty and has bloodshot eyes, a detention teacher tells that student to give up the pot and the student hands him a small bag of marijuana.
  • There are some brief images of partially dissected frogs in a biology class.
  • We hear Kat throw up from drinking too much.
  • Kat has some of both for being somewhat ill-tempered, disrespectful and occasionally meanspirited to others.
  • Joey has both for constantly making fun of Kat and her demeanor/attitude.
  • Joey and his pals see the female students as potential sexual conquests and say things like "Virgin alert" and "Looking good, ladies." Spotting Bianca, Joey decides to make it his quest to deflower her.
  • Joey pays Patrick to go out with Kat (so that he can then get to Bianca) and Patrick accepts the "job" and the money (although he does eventually fall for her).
  • Michael and Cameron alter the invitation to a small, nerd get-together party to that of a major keg party and then pass out those invitations, later causing that small party to be overrun by many students.
  • None.
  • Knife: Used by Patrick to stab an already dead and partially dissected frog in biology class.
  • Bow & Arrow: Accidently used by Bianca to shoot her P.E. teacher in the butt (after she's distracted during target practice).
  • Phrases: 'Nail," "Plow" and "Horny" (sexual), "Sh*t for brains," "Boner," "Jones" "Cheese d*ck" and "Package" (for erections or male genitals), "Bitch" (said many times toward females), "Heinous bitch," "Eat me," "Butt-head," "Hag," "Bitch slapped," "Pissing me off," "Balls" (testicles), "Jerk off," "Snotty," "Imbecile," "Retard," "You suck," "Loser," "Chick," "Screw boy," "Screwed" (nonsexual), "Knocked up" (pregnant), "Sucks," "Pain in the ass," "Shut up," "Blows," "Bad ass," "Pissed," "Screwed up," and "Punk."
  • The school's guidance counselor gives "the finger" to some unseen students who've thrown something against her window.
  • Patrick playfully runs his hand through an open flame in biology class.
  • As Michael asks for Joey's help (and is afraid to stop what he's doing), Joey uses a magic marker to draw a penis and scrotum on his face (that approach his mouth).
  • Patrick runs a drill through Cameron's textbook.
  • Michael and Cameron alter the invitation to a small, nerd get-together party to that of a major keg party and then pass out those invitations, later causing that small party to be overrun by many students.
  • Some guys take turns spitting into a bowl at a party.
  • To distract a teacher so that Patrick can sneak out of detention, Kat lifts her shirt and shows the teacher her breasts (we don't see them).
  • None.
  • None.
  • One song has the word "damn" four times in it, including the line, "I don't give a damn about my reputation."
  • Another song has the line, "I want you to want me. I need you to need me..." that can be interpreted as either about love or sex.
  • At least 6 "s" words, 3 slang terms for male genitals ("d*ck"), 7 damns, 6 asses (3 used with "hole" and 1 seen in subtitles), 3 hells, 1 crap, and 3 uses of "Oh my God," 2 each of "God" and "Oh God," and 1 use each of "Lord" and "My God" as exclamations.
  • The school's guidance counselor is writing a steamy romance novel and on her computer we see the following sentence: "As his hands slid up her creamy, white thighs she could feel his huge member pulsating with desire." After the below, she changes "member" to "bratwurst."
  • That guidance counselor then comments that Patrick was accused of exposing himself in the cafeteria. He says that he was joking with the lunch lady and that it was a bratwurst. As she looks at him and then at his crotch she says, "Aren't we the optimist? Next time, keep it in your pouch."
  • The guidance counselor talks aloud while continuing her romance novel and says, "Undulating with desire, Adrian removes her red...crimson cape at the sight of Reginald's stiff..." She then asks her assistant for another word for "gorged," and moments later Kat tells her, "I'll let you get back to Reginald's quivering member."
  • Michael tells Cameron to put Bianca in his (what sounded like) "spank bag" (possibly referring to the slang term, "spank the monkey," for male masturbation).
  • Walter tries to inform Bianca about what can happen to young girls who aren't careful. As he mentions what a 15-year-old who just gave birth said, the comment is jokingly made, "Should have made my skeezy boyfriend wear a condom."
  • Asked if he'll go out with Kat, a miscellaneous student says he might if they were the last people on Earth and there weren't any sheep left.
  • A student draws some breasts on a lunchroom tray.
  • As Michael asks for Joey's help (and is afraid to stop what he's doing), Joey uses a magic marker to draw a penis and scrotum on his face (that approach his mouth). Later, Michael says, "I've got a d*ck on my face, don't I?"
  • Kat sarcastically tells Patrick, "I want you. I need you. Oh, baby. Oh, baby" after he jokingly says that she thinks about him being naked.
  • Talking to Patrick about their "business" arrangement, Joey tells him, "You don't get any if I don't get any" (sex).
  • Michael mentions to Patrick that Cameron has a "Jones" for Bianca. Patrick then says that Joey can "plow" wherever he wants, causing Cameron to nervously state that there won't be any "plowing."
  • Going through her sister's belongings, Bianca tells Cameron that she once found a guy's picture in Kat's stuff, so she knows that she doesn't have any same-sex tendencies. She then pulls out Kat's blank panties and tells him that it means Kat wants to have sex someday. When he doesn't believe her, Bianca says that you don't buy black panties unless you want someone to see them.
  • Walter makes Bianca wear "the belly," a pregnancy simulator vest and says that she must so that "you can understand the full weight of your decisions." When Patrick stops by he asks, "Who knocked up your sister?"
  • We see a prominently placed box of condoms on Michael's table.
  • We see a couple heavily making out at a party.
  • Drunk from drinking shots of tequila, Kat gets up onto a table and does some (clothed) suggestive dancing.
  • Kat questions why she'd want to go to a dance where a guy's going to be there with a "boner" (erection).
  • Trying to distract the detention teacher so that Patrick can sneak out, Kat first tells him that she hopes he doesn't use steroids because she's heard that it can disintegrate one's "package" (penis) and then says, "Not that I'm thinking about your package..." Finally, when it appears that the teacher might spot Patrick, Kat lifts her shirt and shows him her breasts (we don't see them).
  • Bianca shows some cleavage in a low-cut dress.
  • When Bianca finally figures out that Kat had sex with a guy in the ninth grade, Kat says that everybody was doing it, "...so I did it" (but only once). Moments later, Kat says that this guy never told anyone because she threatened to tell others how little his "d*ck" was.
  • Kat tells Bianca about Joey's bet and that "he was going to nail you tonight."
  • When Walter asks Kat where Bianca has gone, she says that she left with some bikers, "Big ones. Full of sperm."
  • In the out-takes, Michael makes out with a girl and after saying "Can I get a prophylactic?" shrugs and slides down with her out of the camera's view. In another out-take, Bianca and Kat come across the guidance counselor in the hallway with a man in his boxers.
  • Patrick smokes a few times, while other miscellaneous characters smoke at clubs or parties.
  • A nerdy student hands out some of his father's cigars to fellow class nerds (but they don't smoke them).
  • Bianca gets mad (in a comic way) at her overprotective father for his rules about when she can date, and Kat does some of the same (but more seriously) about him trying to control her life.
  • Kat gets mad at Bianca for wearing their absent mother's necklace (that's just been discovered). The mother's absence is never explained, but it appears that she's not dead, but just gone.
  • Why some people always seem to have an impatient, caustic or perturbed demeanor about them.
  • At what age teens should be allowed to date and how they and their overprotective parents can come to a compromise about that.
  • We hear that Kat previously kicked a guy in the crotch (who was trying to feel her up).
  • Patrick stabs a knife into an already dead, and partially dissected frog.
  • Kat violently knocks down another person while playing/practicing soccer.
  • A person is hit by a golf ball.
  • Seeing that Joey has purposefully parked his car behind hers, Kat backs up her car and smashes into his.
  • We see two guys fighting at a party (throwing punches). They then grab each other, knock over a sofa and then crash through some French/patio doors.
  • Bianca accidently shoots the P.E. teacher in the butt with an arrow when she's distracted (we hear, but don't see the impact, but then do see the man with the arrow sticking out of his butt -- played for laughs).
  • Joey throws Michael to the floor at the prom and then punches Cameron. Bianca then punches Joey twice and knees him the crotch.

  • Reviewed March 24, 1999 / Posted March 31, 1999

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