The film takes(more like skims the Cliffs Notes) from the plot of Shakespeare's "Taming Of The Shrew"; here it's boy meets girl, but boy can't date girl because girl's father is "insane", but father in question says pretty, popular daughter can go on dates if violent, angry daughter with neuclear explosion temper can start dating first. But alas, no sane man cares to date this girl. She's Kat Stratford, an incredibly vicious girl who can tear people apart with simply a stare. The boy looking to date her sister is Cameron(3rd Rock From The Sun's Joseph Gordon Levitt, wasted in this role); he sets in motion a scheme to have the school outcast Patrick(Heath Ledger) set up with Kat, so he can go out with Bianca(Larisa Oleynik, claiming her status as the next Alicia Silverstone).
There are some good moments here and there's definitely some funny lines. Unfortunately, the film screeches to a halt every time it realizes that (gasp!) it's actually looking deeper than the surface at issues of romance. When it comes to this realization the film unfortunately feels the need to throw out decidedly raunchy or gross humor and an embarassing, stupid and completely unnecessary scene as Kat helps Patrick escape from detention hall. It's too bad, because this is a cast of really great actors; the kind we'll be seeing in film for a long time. Not the kind that do movies that go straight-to-cable once they're 20. They simply deserve better material than this film presents to them. Teenagers also deserve better as well; Hollywood hasn't realized yet that you can make a smart and funny movie about teens that they can enjoy.
The talent involved is excellent. Stiles is quite good as Kat, spiking her lines with the perfect dash of menace. Larry David is perfect as the father of the two sisters, providing wonderful comic relief as well as some of the film's best lines. David Krumholtz, who was screamingly funny in "Slums Of Beverly Hills" is quite excellent here as well as Cameron's friend who introduces him to the various groups at school and helps him plan the scheme to date Bianca. It definitely isn't the actors that cause the film to wear out its welcome; it's the paper thin material that they're given. The actors do the best they can with this material, but none of the characters rises above(or seems to be allowed to) rise above being one-dimensional.
There were a few moments during the early going where the film starts off on the right foot; I'll admit that I laughed quite a bit. As the film neared the halfway point though, it begins to get far too predictable for it's own good and the few sparks of humor that it lit early on seem to fade out quickly as it reaches a finale. In fact, there were multiple points towards the end where I thought the film was going to end("Oh, ok, it's over."), only to have it gear up for yet another sequence.
In terms of teen films, "10 Things" isn't the worst film of the genre(that would be "She's All That"), but it certainly isn't the best. It doesn't present characters that are as likeable as those from "Can't Hardly Wait" and it doesn't have the edge or wit of a "Cruel Intentions". Those films weren't art, but I found both more enjoyable. Kat's mean-spiritedness is the only edge that this film tries for and the film doesn't fully explore all the possibilities of the terror her anger could bring out in her classmates. Like the rest of the film, it can't be too mean, or too "edgy" or without raunchy humor for more than a moment. It doesn't aim for any new heights in the genre and for the most part, doesn't succeed at the basic levels it set out to accomplish.
The DVD VIDEO: This is generally an above average transfer in terms of the kind of effort Disney puts forth on their product. Which means that it's still got its share of problems. The non-anamorphic picture is letterboxed at 1.85:1, and images are generally clear- there are some outdoor shots that are really quite nice and sharp. Indoor scenes that are a bit dark, such as the club, are handled well, looking nice and clear, if not quite up to being "smooth" or "film-like". Colors are really quite nice, looking consistently vibrant and energetic. Outdoor scenes look bright and crisp, and flesh tones are generally pleasing and natural.
Where this goes wrong is what I consider an irritating amount of shimmering throughout. Not consistently through the movie, but enough that I found to be noticable and slightly distracting. To put it simply, this is what most people have come to expect from the kind of effort that Disney puts into their newer films on DVD- in other words, not impressive. Fox is another studio not doing anamorphic (although they will be soon), but at least their titles have what I consider a generally cleaner and more pleasing overall appearance(such as Fox's Pushing Tin and Ravenous). Disney may be putting forth a bare minimum of effort for their newer releases, but the quality of their catalog titles still, in a word, stinks.
"10 Things I Hate About You" is consistently watchable on DVD, but watching it I couldn't help thinking how much closer this image could be towards greatness if it had come from a studio other than Disney.
SOUND: There's occasional action involved, but it's the rock and pop score that's mainly on display here, and it sounds really quite good: well-recorded and with exceptional clarity and presence. The film is mainly centered around dialogue, which sounds consistently clear and easily heard. Again, the music is the most pleasing part of it all- fun and enveloping without being overwhelming.
MENUS: The usual painfully basic Disney main menus. Nothing real interesting to be found here.
EXTRAS:: The trailer and Disney's usual "film recommendations", which no one cares about.