‘10 Things I Hate About You’: A Popular Cult Classic Romance


Turning 20 years old is a kind of milestone for anyone, but in cinema, the popular kids get an “on this day” remembrance mention, and those who enjoy the film celebrate it. One that falls into this category is the YA romantic-comedy 10 Things I Hate About You.

10 Things I Hate About You (1999) Film Review

Never were there two more different sisters. High school senior Kat Stratford (Julia Stiles) is a mythical creature to many, but in her mind, she’s the girl who doesn’t care what people think. She’s far from impressed by the “in crowd,” unlike her sister, Bianca (Larisa Oleynik) who’s sole goal in life is to be seen. The real trouble is, Bianca isn’t allowed to date until her older sister Kat does. This will never do, so Bianca takes matters into her own hands.

When new guy Cameron James (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) takes a shine to the sweet Bianca, she shares her frustrations with him, only what he doesn’t know is Bianca only has eyes for the self-absorbed Joey (Andrew Keegan). Still, with a little bit of planning, Cameron and his friend set up a plan to get Kat a boyfriend. Most of the boys are afraid of Kat, but then there’s one Patrick Verona (Heath Ledger). The only one who just might be the not-so-perfect faux boyfriend.

‘10 Things I Hate About You’: A Popular Cult Classic Romance. A review of the Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles rom-com. Text © Rissi JC

This film is a kind of “cult” – or iconic? – classic. It also happens to be a film I never saw until the last, five or thereabouts years. The first time I watched it, I did “like” the film, but don’t think it’s a favorite. A second run-through leaves me feeling similar, but this film does have its shining moments, and a kind of charm that’s endearing. One of the things I like is that it puts two characters together who share no concrete past. Sure they go to school together, but they don’t share a story. In other words, this isn’t the stereotypical high school romance where Kat and Patrick have a secretly, or are in an unrequited love, pine for the other. It makes the script seem “fresh” and in some instances, quite funny.

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This script does benefit from some laugh-out-loud funny lines, along with the perfect cast to deliver them. Penned by a female writing team (the same that pens Legally Blonde), the jokes do wander into angst-y crude, but some of the interactions between Stiles’ Kat and Ledger’s Patrick are genuinely, movie scene perfect. Julia Stiles and Heath Ledger are fabulous together, and it’s fun to hear Ledger’s intact accent. Together they’re pretty darn good, and it’s always fun to see the “big stars” of today in film’s when they were just starting out.

Watching this makes us painfully aware of how things change (from fashion to the glued-to-a-phone mentality), and yet this film is still a sweet Saturday night watch. Something unusual for me since I’m not a fan of 90s era fashion. It’s fun, sassy and features a cast that does its characters justice. There’s romance and sisterly squabbles (and make ups); and if that’s your thing, there’s a kind of feminist message as demonstrated in both sisters. Between the charm of Patrick and the prickly Kat, this is a rom-com that’s nearly impossible not to enjoy.

Loosely inspired by William Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew, there’s a fun story here. It might not suggest it by its title, but like Kat says, for some of us we kinda’ hate how much we don’t hate 10 Things I Hate About You.

‘10 Things I Hate About You’: A Popular Cult Classic Romance. A review of the Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles rom-com. #Movies #WhatToWatch #Romance #RomanticComedy Click To Tweet
‘10 Things I Hate About You’: A Popular Cult Classic Romance. A review of the Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles rom-com. Text © Rissi JC

Content: There’s crude humor including references to male and female anatomy. Other sexual jokes invade (a teen girl flashes her teacher) the script as well as some commonplace profanity. The film is PG-13

Photos: Touchstone Pictures

About Rissi JC

amateur graphic designer. confirmed bookaholic. bubbl’r enthusiast. critical thinker. miswesterner. social media coordinator. writer.


  1. I love this film even more today than when I first watched it, and that is saying something. Not only are Julia Stiles and Heath Ledger indeed PERFECTION individually and together (I mean, that ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You’ serenade scene alone… ?), I also adore the genuine friendship that develops between Patrick, Cameron & Michael, as well as the little too cute for words side romance between Michael & the appropriately Shakespeare obsessed Mandella.

    1. Michael’s story is really cute. I like that he gets to know her enough to give her a night that plays into her favorite writer. So cute. Also, yes! That serenade scene is too cute. There’s just so much JOY in it. :) So glad you enjoy this one, Kirsty; and I’m glad you shared your thoughts.

  2. So I’ve seen part of this film because it was being shown in a class where I was a substitute teacher. But that’s not the memory I have concerning this film. It was filmed in my hometown, Tacoma WA. But the interest doesn’t stop there. The high school where it was filmed is my brother’s alma mater. But there’s more. My dad was the chief custodian of the school when they were filming it. He was there at the school when they were filming it. He was even offered a walk-on role but he declined. So this movie has more nostalgia for me than can be imagined. It is a beautiful school that is quite a landmark in that city. Even though it has been renovated since that movie, it is still a gorgeous school. And by the way, what I’ve seen of the film didn’t grab my attention. I’m sure it’s fine in it’s own right. Just not my cup of tea. Thanks for featuring this film.

    1. That’s SO fun, Ruth. It’s always cool when you have connections/memories attached to something that’s got lots of nostalgia attached. :) I don’t have the same feelings for this as I do for say, “While You Were Sleeping,” but it IS one I enjoy a re-watch of now and again. :)

    1. I only recently (by comparison) saw this one for the first time, Lauren. I do really like/enjoy it, but I don’t think it has the same kind of nostalgic appeal to me as “While You Were Sleeping” or “Never Been Kissed.” But then I grew up watching ‘Sleeping,’ so that’s probably where that stems from. :)

  3. I LOVED this movie — but I also saw it when it was released in the movie theater. I remember it for several reasons. I was going to Arizona State and actually went by myself to see it. I really wanted to see it because it was set in “Seattle” but really in Tacoma at Stadium High School, and I was homesick. It’s a super cool old school and one a friend went to. (I grew up about 20 minutes away from it.) Also, during a party scene, a girl I went to k-12 with was an extra. I just remember really loving it. I haven’t seen it in years, though. So I don’t know if it would hold up. I should make my 12 year old watch it with me and see what she thinks.

    1. That’s cool, Deanna! It’s always neat when you can tie memories or things to something, like this, that has such a strong nostalgia appeal. :) It’s fun as a re-watch in a “just because” reasoning or I think so. Some of the things are painful just in terms of how far film-making has come, but in other ways, it feels still “relevant” to the culture today.

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