10 Things I Hate About You: 10th Anniversary DVD Edition
R1 - America - Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Jeremiah Chin & Noor Razzak (17th February 2010).
The Film

The success of “Romeo + Juliet” (1996) launched a swarm of Shakespeare adaptations and modern reinterpretations into production like “10 Things I Hate About You” (1999), “Hamlet” (2000) and “O” (2001). It was both the dream and nightmare of English teachers everywhere, nightmares for purists, a godsend for those trying to get kids interested in Shakespeare and pretty great for substitutes who could put on the newer movies and take a nap in the corner. These movies were some sort of Shakespeare for a new generation by putting all these older stories into a modern setting, though some would keep the original prose, “10 Things I Hate About You” is one of the more tenous adaptations as it completely changes the language too, transforming it into some bizarre combination of a John Hughes imitator and Shakespeare.

Two daughters, both very different in dignity, In affluent Washington state, where we lay our scene. An overprotective father has determined that his younger daughter, Bianca (Larisa Oleynik) cannot date or even go to dances unless her older sister, Kat (Julia Stiles), a shrew, is also dating or going to whatever dance and party Bianca wants to attend. The new guy, Cameron (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) hatches a plan to fulfill his crush on Bianca by tricking the ultra-vain Joey (Andrew Keegan) into paying the renegade Patrick (Heath Ledger) to woo the shrew and take Kat out to parties and dating so she can be available for other people. But of course, Patrick and Kat may fall in love and she may find out about the bet, meaning they may have to break up and get back together before the end of the film.

Honestly this modernization of Shakespeare seems the most redundant since the story and the way it’s told is something we’ve seen in teen movies many times before. But of course they bring in the core teen movie elements, like the giant party at a nervous rich kid’s mansion, the quirky school officials like the horny Ms. Perky who spends her days at school writing erotic fiction. There are some classic teen movie moments that it does on it’s own, like having Heath Ledger sing "Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You" in front of the school soccer team as he’s chased around by school cops, or the blatantly late 90’s ska soundtrack with the likes of Save Ferris and Letters to Cleo playing prominent roles in the movie.

But to be truly honest, the real reason that this movie is getting a re-release isn’t the fact that it is teen classic, that title can only go to the movies written and directed by John Hughes, but it’s banking off of the death of Heath Ledger. It’s about two years after his death, meaning that they at least had the courtesy to wait till the 10th anniversary so they wouldn’t have to call it the "Death of Heath Edition." Because his career is really the only one that took off after this movie to become a major Hollywood player. Gordon-Leavitt has become buried in indie movies after his TV career, Stiles has faded into being a third-chair player and a recognizable name that doesn’t quite carry box office success anymore. And while I’m a fan of Gabrielle Union (even though it’s a little crazy that she was 27 at time of filming) and always liked Daryl Mitchell, especially in this movie, their careers would never find the same spark.

A big reason for all of it is that this film is a teen movie, but it’s almost more of a vehicle film. A launch pad for something bigger for the actors, since the directing and writing of the movie are entirely lacking on their own. There’s a good amount of classic teen movie moments or moements that imitate the 80’s teen film era with good reason, but it just doesn’t seem to execute on the right level. It’s not really suprising that Gil Junger’s film directing career didn’t quite take off afterwards since the film is really plain and he doesn’t quite pull the great performances out of the actors, rather their own talents seem to get them along. Similarly the script by Karen McCullah Lutz and Kristen Smith is functional at best, bringing in some good ideas but a generally plain movie.

Overall, “10 Things I Hate About You” is a mediocre modernization of Shakespeare, infusing it with a teen movie isn’t that bad but the script and directing generally just don’t rize to that level. Seeing this it’s kind of amazing that Heath Ledger would evolve beyond the teen movie mold, considering that just 6 years later he does “Brokeback Mountain” (2005) and will transform into a great Joker 9 years later. It holds some weird nostalgia value in terms of the music and time period that it came out in, very late 90’s in look and feel, but in retrospect it’s a mediocre film at best. EXCEPT for the scene that for the entire time David Krumholtz is talking he’s having a penis drawn on his cheek, that’s the kind of daring you don’t see in movies too often.

Video

For the level of promotion and everything surrounding this "10th Anniversary Edition" there’s less clean-up than I would have hoped, at least on DVD with the 1.85:1 anamorphic aspect ratio the film quality has a certain grain level left over from the 90’s time period. The film lacks any sort of improved clarity that you would expect; the contrast is a little muddy and imprecise, looking mostly like it did in it’s constant replays on TV in the 90’s. Still, the DVD shows a couple improvements in color, what there is in the film, but the video transfer doesn’t help to make a case against the idea that this movie is banking off of the explosion of Heath Ledger popularity post-mortem.

Audio

Slightly more improved, though still incredibly plain is the English Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound transfer. Certain scenes stand out in the audio quality that you would expect, like the grand stadium singing scene or some of the woodworking scenes manage to utilize the sound fairly effectively. However other scenes, like some of the party scenes or music montages loose a bit of quality oddly, they don’t quite match up as well with the rest of the film either because of the odd ADR techniques or something in the sound mixing.
Also included are French Dolby Digital 5.1 and Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 surround audio tracks with English, French and Spanish subtitles.

Extras

Maybe the most shameful thing of this "10th Anniversary Edition" is the dramatic lack of real special features. There is a featurette and an audio commentary track, which normally could be acceptable, but considering the scale that an anniversary edition should have, it’s dramatically lacking. There are two discs, but it’s stretching it just a little bit.

DISC ONE:

The audio commentary track is with co-writers Karen McCullah Lutz and Kristen Smith and actors Andrew Keegan, David Krumholtz, Larisa Oleynik and Susan May Pratt. It’s not a bad commentary and actually has some good stories from the making of the film. I’m a little disappointed that they bleep the commentary, but it’s just sort of annoying. At different points the commentary turns into memories of Heath, understandably, but not as much as I would have thought. Everyone seems like they liked each other and it’s mostly funny stories from the young cast who has now totally grown up. Because of the large cast there’s a good amount of laughter and it helps to keep the commentary rolling, but I’m a little disappointed that they couldn’t get any of the bigger names back to the film like Stiles, Gordon-Leavitt or even Gabrielle Union. Krumholtz is still good though and so is the rest of the cast and crew for a solid commentary.

“10 Things I Hate About You 10 Years Later” runs for 35 minutes and 3 seconds, it’s a nice retrospective featurette to cover the entirety of the movie. There’s current interviews and interviews taken at the time, along with all kinds of behind the scenes footage. While the box art claims deleted scenes on the disc, I think they must have buried them within the featurette, considering there are a good amount of deleted scenes mixed in with the rest of the big featurette. All things considered it’s a nice look back at the film and a good retrospective after 10 years, but I thought they could have brought back any of the actors to talk in the commentary in contrast with their younger selves to see how they had aged.

Bonus trailers on the disc are:

- “When In Rome” runs for 2 minutes and 33 seconds.
- “Extract” runs for 1 minute and 19 seconds.
- “10 Things I Hate About You: Volume One” runs for 1 minute and 10 seconds.
- “Surrogates” runs for 1 minute and 21 seconds.
- “KSM” runs for 32 seconds.
- “Greek: Chapter Four” runs for 1 minute.
- “Make It Or Break It: Season One” runs for 58 seconds.
- “Kyle xy: The Complete Third and Final Season” runs for 56 seconds.
- “Disney Blu-ray” spot runs for 1 minute and 2 seconds.

DISC TWO:

This is simply a digital copy of the film.

Overall these bonus features are a shameful representation of what should be a larger special edition, this movie tries to get away with the bare minimum for a "10th Anniversary Edition."

Overall

The Film: C- Video: C+ Audio: B- Extras: C+ Overall: C+

 


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