“Likes: Thai food, feminist prose, and angry girl music of the indie rock persuasion.
So I’m supposed to buy her some noodles and a book and sit around listening to chicks who can’t play their instruments, right?”
On this day in March, 20 years ago, a little movie called 10 Things I Hate About You was released. It grossed a total of around $53.5 million worldwide, so I guess it wasn’t that little. I first saw it when I was around twelve years old, a whole thirteen years after it came out, and it’s been my favourite movie ever since. But the question is… Why is it still so memorable and so iconic, 20 years later?
The soundtrack was the epitome of the late 90s/early 00s, but it’s also still pretty timeless to this day. Admittedly, I still listen to “angry girl music of the indie rock persuasion”. The main band to feature prominently in the soundtrack, who is also Kat’s favourite band, is Letters to Cleo, singing a cover of “I Want You To Want Me”, “Cruel To Be Kind” and “Co-Pilot”, the latter two are both played live, in the prom scene and a gig scene, respectively.
The majority of the rest of the soundtrack is filled with upbeat, 90s alt-rock/pop songs, such as “F.N.T” by Semisonic, “Bad Reputation” by Joan Jett, “New World” by Leroy, “Calypso” by Spiderbait, “One Week” by Barenaked Ladies, and “Can’t Get Enough Of You Baby” by The Colourfield.
The rest is filled in with ballads, namely “Even Angels Fall” by Jessica Riddle, “Your Winter” by Sister Hazel and “The Weakness In Me” by Joan Armatrading and a collection of disco-funk songs, like “Dazz” by Brick, “Push It” by Salt-N-Pepa and “Word Up” by Cameo. The film also has Heath Ledger’s wonderful rendition of Frankie Valli’s “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” in possibly the best scene in any film ever. An angel.
The cast is probably the number one reason why the movie is so memorable all these years later.
Julia Stiles (Kat Stratford) had a few acting credits to her name in both film and TV, but 10 Things was her breakout role. She won the Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Most Promising Actress in 1999, and also the MTV Movie Award for Best Breakthrough Performance – Female in 2000 for this role.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Cameron James) was probably one of the more famous actors on 10 Things I Hate About You, as he had already been nominated for a Saturn Award 5 years before the movie, and had lots of TV guest appearances before starring in it, such as in an episode of That ‘70s Show. He also was starring in 3rd Rock From The Sun as Tommy Solomon from 1996-01, as well as having a part in Halloween H20: 20 Years Later.
Larisa Oleynik (Bianca Stratford) was classed as a teen idol before she starred in the film. She starred as Alex Mack in The Secret World of Alex Mack from 1994-98. Before 10 Things I Hate About You, her first major film role was in The Babysitters Club in 1995.
Heath Ledger (Patrick Verona) hadn’t had many acting credits before 10 Things, with the movie being his first American film. He’d previously been a character in a couple of episodes of Home and Away and had a role in the movie Blackrock.
I truly cannot think of one line or scene that isn’t completely iconic and memorable in this movie. My favourite line from Bianca has to be “I know you can be overwhelmed, and you can be underwhelmed, but can you ever just be whelmed?”, “I think you can in Europe?” but my all-time favourite line has to be one between Kat and Patrick in the car: “I should do this.”, “What, start a band?”, “No, install car stereos! Yeah, start a band.”.
I love the prom scene and three lines that come out of it. One between Kat and Patrick, “Where’d you get a tux at the last-minute?”, “Oh just something I had. You know, lying around. Where’d you get the dress?”, “Oh it was just something I had, you know, lying around.”
The other two between Joey (Andrew Keegan) and Bianca: “Shit Bianca, I’m shooting a nose spray ad tomorrow!”, “That’s for making my date bleed, that’s for my sister, and that’s for me.”
My Top 3 Scenes
- In my opinion, one of the most satisfying and best scenes in the movie is the scene where Kat bails Patrick out of detention and they go on a ‘date’ and throw paint balloons at each other, ending with them falling into a pile of hay and having their first kiss to Semisonic’s F.N.T. – the best slow burn.
- The best musical scene is when Patrick uses the money he got paid with by Joey to pay the marching band to play Frankie Valli’s “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” to Kat while she’s playing soccer on the field, and he sings and dances on the bleachers in front of everybody.
- The ending scene with Patrick placing the guitar Kat was eyeing in the music shop in the front seat of her car. He distinctly remembered which guitar she wanted, and that she wanted to start a band. We got pretty quotable lines out of it, too. “It’s not every day you meet a girl who’ll flash someone to get you out of detention.”, “You can’t buy me a guitar every time you screw up, you know.”, “I know, but you know there’s always drums, bass, and maybe one day even a tambourine.”
Setting Up Romance
10 Things I Hate About You really set up the romance in 2000s teen films. It definitely defined the whole ‘dating someone for money but then actually falling for them’ movie trope, which is somewhat similar to ‘dating someone for a bet, while the character being bet on (typically a girl) doesn’t know they’re being bet on, subsequently finding out near the end of the movie’ which actually happens in this one – only not to Kat, but Bianca.
For a teen rom-com, 10 Things I Hate About You surprisingly has some badass and in-depth characters, and I think this is why it’s so memorable and was so successful. At the start of the movie, when we meet Kat, she’s supposed to be the alternative, The Raincoats and Sylvia Plath loving, angry older sister to Bianca who hates everyone, and while she is all those things, she’s like that for a reason.
She doesn’t care what people think about her and her interests, and she never does things because other people want her to, apart from Bogey Lowenstein’s party, of course. She likes all the things she likes because she wants to, she does the things she does because she wants to, and although she’s a bit of an outcast in the movie, she really doesn’t care. She has witty comebacks for everyone; Bianca, her dad, her teachers, the guidance counsellor, Joey, and even Patrick. She never changes for Patrick, either.
When we meet Patrick, Cameron and his friend Michael (David Krumholtz) are trying to find a guy who doesn’t scare easily to date Kat. They look over and see Patrick stabbing a dissected frog, lighting a cigarette on the Bunsen burner and then touching the flame with his fingers. This is the furthest away from the real Patrick that we end up seeing during the movie. Maybe he’s a bit bad for taking the money from Joey at first, but he didn’t know what he was getting into. He was chivalrous to Kat, tried to find out things about her, helped her when she could’ve had a concussion at the party, and didn’t kiss her when she was almost blackout drunk.
He also embarrassed himself for her, singing in front of a giant audience of people, went to the prom with her, even remembered which guitar she wanted and bought it for her with the money Joey gave him. He even ended up becoming good friends with Cameron and helped him get with Bianca. They could’ve made him rude and scary throughout the whole film but they actually made him respectful and sensitive.
Bianca, I think, is the real turnaround character in this movie. At the start, she’s popular, a little ditzy, and doesn’t care about anything apart from clothes, shopping and Joey. She’s shallow and self-centred, but this seems to be almost an act to fit in with her friends. Her true self is apparent when she starts seeing Cameron, and it becomes clear that Joey and her best friend Chastity (Gabrielle Union) had bet on Joey sleeping with her on prom night. She starts becoming nicer to Kat and sticks up for her, Cameron and herself at prom by hitting Joey.
The movie was so popular that it even got its own TV adaptation, which could’ve made new viewers of the show go and watch the movie. The show aired 10 years later in July 2009 and ran for 20 episodes, until May 2010. It was cancelled because of low ratings later in the show. This could’ve been because of nostalgia and people wanting to relive the 90s, but finding out the show couldn’t live up to the original movie, despite having 12 episodes directed by the director of the movie, Gil Junger.
20 Years Later
To sum it all up, I think this movie is so iconic and memorable 20 years later because it’s the whole package. If the killer soundtrack was off, someone was cast differently, a line was said differently or taken out altogether, I truly don’t think any of it would’ve worked, and I think the TV adaptation is a perfect result of that – it just wasn’t the same. The movie never needed and will never need a reboot or remake, it will always be timeless.
“We all just hung out so much,” he continued. “I think we all just kind of fell in love with each other, like we all just really loved hanging out genuinely and I think that’s, if I had to guess, I think that’s why the movie turned out so good and why people like it so much is because we really, really liked hanging out together and that kind of thing doesn’t actually always happen.” – Joseph Gordon-Levitt on the 20th anniversary
Happy Birthday, 10 Things I Hate About You. If you were a person, next year you’ll be able to drink!