10 Things I Hate About You: 10th Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray)
Directed by Gil Junger
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 1080p AVC codec
Running Time: 97 minutes
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English; Dolby Digital 5.1 French, Spanish
Subtitles: SDH, French, Spanish
MSRP: $ 29.99
Release Date: January 5, 2010
Review Date: December 23, 2009
If William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew could be adapted into a Broadway musical (Kiss Me Kate), it certainly seemed like it could be viable material for a romantic teen comedy as well, and that’s exactly what Gil Junger’s 10 Things I Hate About You offers: a delightfully acerbic teen comedy with touches of the Bard and a lot of engaging young performers, many of whom have gone on to even bigger and better things. Don’t let the allusions to Shakespeare keep you away from this very different but quite viable take on a teen comedy. Its touches of sophisticated humor are a real tonic even ten years after its original theatrical release.
High school sophomore Bianca Stratford (Larisa Oleynik) is pretty and popular, but her strict father (Larry Miller) won't allow her to date until her older sister Katarina (Julia Stiles) does. The problem is that sister Kat is an outsider with a giant chip on her shoulder (we find out why later in the film) who tries to alienate any guy who might be interested in her. So Bianca's would-be boyfriend Joey Donner (Andrew Keegan) bribes fellow outsider Patrick (Heath Ledger) to ask out Kat, thinking that this sullen young man with a mysterious past might tempt Kat to rise to the challenge. Meanwhile, pining on the sidelines for Bianca are two more potential suitors: nice guy Cameron (Joseph-Gordon Levitt) and his nerdy pal Michael (David Krumholtz).
The script for this mash-up of Shakespeare in Seattle by Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith only takes the bare bones of the Shrew plot and a few of the more esoteric phrases along with some Bard-inspired names of the characters (Patrick Verona, Katarina and Bianca Stratford) or their school – Padua. Otherwise, the attempts to channel the Bard of Avon into more modern terms gets sidetracked into a genuinely interesting and unclichéd look at two attractive sisters coping in different ways with the assorted varieties of high school male specimens who regularly show more than casual interest in getting to know them. We see this isn’t the usual raunchy teen comedy when director Gil Junger lets his camera prowl around a typical improvised high school party with the expected inappropriate behavior on display occasionally but also with real emotions being exposed first tentatively and then aggressively to see how they’re accepted or rejected. Later on, when relationships are on the line, he lets characters erupt into wonderfully ingratiating moments: Heath Ledger’s sweetly amateurish but youthful élan in proclaiming his feelings for Kat with a jaunty song and prance to “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You,” a father’s resigning himself to his daughter’s growing, responsible maturity, a young lady defending her date at the prom from the school’s rich jerk. Writers Lutz and Smith do get a bit lazy and obvious with the school’s adult characters. Worthless guidance counselor Ms. Perky (Allison Janney), accident-prone coach Mr. Chapin (David Leisure), and overly acerbic English teacher Mr. Morgan (Daryl "Chill" Mitchell) are shrill, overdrawn caricatures not worthy of the honest teen emotions (or those of Walter, the careful father of the two pursued girls) that we see elsewhere in the movie.
Heath Ledger made his first big splash in America with his off kilter but appealing performance in the movie, and Julia Stiles gets the biggest emotional journey of the youthful characters as the conflicted Katarina which she maneuvers quite skillfully. Stealing all of his scenes is David Krumholtz’s Michael, always ready with a quick quip or withering self-flagellation. Joseph-Gordon Levitt makes a serious but very appealing suitor for Bianca while Andrew Keegan has his rich boy jerk role down pat. Larisa Oleynik is slightly less impressive as Bianca, but she can deliver the twinkles when the scene calls for them. Larry Miller makes a wonderfully endearing, overprotective father.
The film’s theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 is delivered in 1080p using the AVC codec. Color is nicely saturated in the transfer with a dimensionality in tone and sharpness that usually pops impressively. There are isolated scenes with some unexpected softness, and occasionally contrast seems to dim a bit causing the image to momentarily lose its luster. There are also some infrequent glimpses of edge enhancement though this is not a serious problem with the transfer. The film has been divided into 21 chapters.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix features robust dynamics with the almost constant music that infuses the soundtrack. Only occasional ambient sounds find their way to various rear channels, the majority of the sound design being located in the front three channels. Dialogue is well recorded and placed distinctly in the center channel with no distortion.
The audio commentary features writers Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith and co-stars Andrew Keegan, David Krumholtz, Susan May Pratt, and Larisa Oleynik. Gathered together ten years after the release of the movie, the six participants have a fun-filled reunion remembering many amusing stories of activities during the filming, but actual making-of-the- movie information is in short supply. Naturally, fond remembrances of the late Heath Ledger crop up more than once during their reminiscence, and those are among the commentary’s most touching moments.
“10 Things I Love About 10 Things I Hate About You” is a comprehensive making-of documentary featuring both newly filmed comments by director Gil Junger and writers Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith and vintage interviews with all of the stars in the cast about making the movie. Contained in this feature are deleted scenes featuring the director who wrote himself a part in the movie (there is no separate section of deleted scenes, contrary to the liner notes on the keepcase. Since the film’s gag reel plays over the closing credits, there is no separate gag reel either). The featurette runs 35 minutes in 1080i.
There are 1080p trailers for When in Rome, Extract, and Surrogates.
4/5 (not an average)
A sweet and sassy teen comedy that leaves behind raunch for genuine wit and charm, 10 Things I Hate About You features a terrific cast and an involving story of young loves. The Blu-ray offers very good picture and sound along with a few bonus extras for the film’s tenth anniversary. Recommended!