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IN SHORT: as rejected by the WB . . .
And Cranky knows that hurts his pals at Disney (which owns ABC), but the fact of the matter is that most of the jokes in 10 Things I Hate About You aren't fit for the dregs of an A-level net. That being said, we interrupt this review with a special set of couplets . . .
cares not if you screw with The Bard,
the shores of Seattle, at Padua High,
beggeth and pleadeth; Dad relents with a hitch,
OK back to our regularly scheduled Cranky:
Cranky reminds you that he doesn't make comparisons to Source Material, though there was a report of seismic tremors measuring 4.86 on the Richter scale detected by the Royal Naval Observatory at Greenwich, with an epicenter at Stratford-On-Avon. It was probably Shakespeare spinning in the church floor after someone read the press notes ("an original script by two very talented young writers") to 10 Things I Hate About You out loud, as this movie is a rehash of The Taming of the Shrew, with healthy doses of sex and vomit jokes added to spice things up.
Some of the jokes are actually funny. More often than not, this first work by Karen McCullah Lutz & Kirsten Smith drops characters in and out the story, just to deliver a joke (Ms. Perky, a guidance counselor who writes pornography, for example) or to make the male-female head count even up, every guy nice and neat with a girl, by the closing credits.
At the center of this one note symphony is a solid, stable and totally sexually neurotic Larry Miller as the gynecologist dad of Kat (Julia Stiles) and Bianca (Larisa Oleynik). The living embodiment of the age old nightclub joke ("my daughters aren't going to date until they're married") Dad lays down the law: no one dates while he's in charge. [If Lutz & Smith had truly wanted a 90s version of the tale, Dad would have wound up in the Cuisinart] but he's convinced to allow younger daughter Bianca to date new kid on the block Cameron (Joseph Gordon Levitt), if Kat gets herself a guy, too. Kat don't care because of an incident that she suffered back in ninth grade (Webster's Dictionary defines "incident" as: "Giving reason to create a sequel to Carrie". Ol' Daniel was kind prescient about these things, wasn't he?)
The play being the thing, Cam must convince dumb, rich guy Joey (Andrew Keegan) to pay new studlet Patrick (a gentleman named) Verona (Heath Ledger) to win the heart of the heartless wench. She, of course, would rather vomit.
Which she'll do. But you knew that was de riguer for a story involving teens and partying.
10 Things I Hate About You is all by the book bopperflick humor. Ages 15 to 20 can diss e-mail Cranky all you want. The humor is funny maybe the first half a dozen times and then it gets real old real fast. Now that the door's been opened, Cranky wonders what the Farrelly brothers could do with, say, Othello. [What's that you say? Turn it into a college basketball story and retitle it the Story of O? Too late, folks, it's in the pipeline, from a different team and studio.]
Somehow I expect that Stratford-On will soon be called Stratford-IN-Avon. . .
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to 10 Things I Hate About You, he would have paid...
This humor always gets a rental rating. As far as the babe factor, personally? Kat is a Joan Jett fan. Good enough for Cranky. What's not to like?
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