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From Under A Rock: 10 Things I Hate About You

March 20, 2018 | Posted by Michael Ornelas
10 Things I Hate About You
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From Under A Rock: 10 Things I Hate About You  


Occasionally we ask each other to pick movies we want to see. That’s the case with this pick, which turned out pretty well.

You only get one first time, and for some people, it comes later than it does for others. This particular column is about documenting the first viewing of a “classic” movie or TV show determined at the discretion of Aaron Hubbard and Michael Ornelas in alternation.

Last week Michael chose Flash Gordon. This week Aaron takes Michael out from under the proverbial rock to show him 10 Things I Hate About You.

10 Things I Hate About You
Released: March 31, 1999
Directed by: Gil Junger
Written by: Karen McCullah and Kirsten Smith
Heath Ledger as Patrick Verona
Julia Stiles as Kat Stratford
Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Cameron James
Larisa Oleynik as Bianca Stratford
David Krumholtz as Michael

Aaron Hubbard: This is one of my more favorite high school movies. It’s not quite a classic, but it’s one of the best from the era and has a great cast.

Michael Ornelas: Due to its genre, I thought I was too cool to watch something like it in 1999 (I was 11 years old). Now I’ll watch anything because anything can be good, and I’m really glad I asked Aaron to make this pick because I had a lot of fun with it.
Ledger Stiles
Brush Up Your Shakespeare
Aaron: So this is actually a very nineties movie that follows the bizarrely popular trend of “modernized Shakespeare” that happened at the time. (Romeo + Juliet, Shakespeare in Love, for example.) It’s an adaptation of William’s play The Taming of the Shrew, which is about the courtship between a strong-willed lady and the guy she’s about to be married to. It’s kind of sexist and tacky. But this movie is usually not those, or at least is self-aware about it. So in case you were wondering why the movie has a character in love with Shakespeare, it’s a big self-reference. Which is exactly the kind of silly joke that makes this movie fun for me.

Michael: I’m actually woefully unfamiliar with most Shakespeare, so I didn’t know this. I do think that Stiles’ character was the 90s interpretation of a radical feminist (that said, in 2018 and the fact that I live in hyper-liberal L.A., she seems incredibly reasonable to me). The “taming”, so to speak, of Kat is just breaking through the gruff exterior, and it’s a lot of fun to watch. I love the set up of Ledger’s character not readily accepting the push to go after Kat, and when he does, it’s never because of the wager, but because he sees something in her. It’s not the standard “I took a bet at first, but then fell in love with you in the process” sort of deal…his interests are piqued from the start.

Aaron: There relationship is really sweet. Actually, both major romances are sweet, and feel distinct from each other. I also like how there’s some care to age appropriateness with each of them. Heath and Julia are older and a lot more serious, each of them finding things they might want in an actual life partner. Levitt and Oleynik’s relationship is more innocent; they’re aware of sex but it’s not the main goal of their flirting, and they aren’t looking to be together forever either.
Ledger JGL
Stars Apparent
Michael: The main takeaway I had from this was an immense liking of Joseph Gordon Levitt and Heath Ledger. It’s so clear from this film that both had all the potential in the world at a young age. Ledger’s career is unique because the movies he chose to be in early on (this, A Knight’s Tale, etc.) seemed far below his ability. He was too pretty to book those truly dramatic roles but he brought so much with him to the screen, adding depth to these roles that risk being stereotypical. And JGL has just been the most likeable guy in everything he’s been apart of. As soon as he popped up on screen, I wanted him to get the girl, so to speak, because the real guy’s genuineness transfers into the roles he plays.

Aaron: Which is funny to me, since what I always think about when I think of JGL is (500) Days of Summer, which is all about how he is a toxic asshole who shouldn’t get the girl. But yeah, both men are extremely talented, and I would have liked to see them get a chance to do more movies later on. There’s more than a few future stars here; Julia Stiles has had a solid career but this might be my favorite movie of hers. And there’s Oscar winner Allison Janney in a bit role as the principal writing porn. It’s pretty fun that way.

Michael: The self-awareness of the film helped it tremendously because now they can do stuff like that in the second scene, and we all know exactly what to expect for the rest of the runtime.
Background Characters
Aaron: Something that really stuck out to me this time is how many characters are in this movie for short bursts of time and still stick out. Even if they just have one trait, they can be used for recurring jokes (like the white Rastafarians) or even just solid one-offs (the character credited as “Kissing Guy). High school is a pretty universal experience for most American moviegoers, and I enjoy seeing the movie indulge in giving us a feeling of “We know those guys”. They may be exaggerated to absurd levels at times, but they still feel like they’re based on real people. It adds a lot of replay value to the movie that I didn’t expect to see.

Michael: The tracking shot through the crowd of kids in their cliques at the start of the movie was super enjoyable. I knew all of them because I grew up in Texas, and they had cowboys. This movie was true to the coming of age experience in so many ways and it was a blast to watch. My favorite bits were probably the white rastafarians as well (which I guess was the only stereotype I didn’t have exactly at my high school, but still had a similar breed of stoners). It transported me back to high school.

Aaron: I also enjoy how Cameron and Michael are basically losers but they aren’t geeks. It’s one of the major changes between this and 1980’s high school movies. Nerds and geeks were already their own sort of clique by the time I was growing up and the real losers were the ones like me who didn’t really have any identity but just sort of existed. It was cool to see that reflected here. Michael in particular felt a lot like how I remember my high school years.

Michael: I’m really happy that I get to check this one off the list of movies I’d never seen. The cast was great, the writing was great for what it was, and the finished product was very charming. I’d watch this again for sure.


Aaron: So funny thing about this one; the thing I like least about this movie is the titular poem. It ends on kind of a lame note, and I usually end up second guessing my initial reaction. But you know what? This holds up on multiple viewings. It’s funny and sweet and has aged better than it has any right to.


Michael: Thanks for doing me the favor of this pick!

Aaron: Not a problem, it was a fun time.

Which 1990’s movies holds up better than they have any right to?

Next week:

Michael: Next week’s pick is a super obscure show from MTV that has several of my favorite dumb jokes. I’m gonna have a lot of fun revisiting it.
Aaron: I know nothing about this but I’m interested.

Michael: It’s quite the premise.

What’s your favorite unsuccessful/forgotten series?

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The final score: review Very Good
The 411
10 Things I Hate About You is a fun, sweet, funny movie that doesn't have a lot of depth. But it's easy to watch, holds up well after almost two decades and even stands up to multiple viewings. And you get to see Heath Ledger and Joseph Gordon-Levitt before they became huge stars, so that's a big plus. It's not a top-tier high school movie, but it's one of the better near-classics.