Hello everyone and welcome back to another Movie Monday. So if you follow my Instagram (@katelovesliterature) then you will know from my stories that I asked a few questions this week about what people prefer, action vs thrillers etc, etc. Thank you so much to everyone who voted. As I have already said, the polls on my stories will not impact the content that I choose to write about and there will always be a broad range of topics and genres covered on Katelovesliteraure.com because I want the website to be a place where there is something for everyone and I also love a very broad range of things myself but the polls were simply about my own curiosity.
I choose what to write about based on what I am enjoying so while there are so many brilliant movies coming out at the moment and I do plan on writing about current releases too, the movie that I watched over the weekend was 10 Things I Hate About You so let’s dive into #moviemonday.
10 Things I Hate About You staring Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles was released in 1999 and directed by Gil Junger. The movie is a modern adaptation of William Shakespeare’s play The Taming of the Shrew.
The plot follows Cameron James as he starts a new school and immediately develops a crush on the beautiful but somewhat vain and selfish Bianca Stratford. Bianca wishes to date the equally vain and very selfish Joey Donner but her very overprotective father will not allow her or her older sister Kat date anyone until after they graduate from high school. Kat and Bianca could not be any more different. Bianca is popular and she cares about what everyone thinks of her. She wishes to take part in the social life at school. She wants to date, go to parties and most importantly, she wants to go to prom. Kat does not care about what anyone thinks of her. She does not care that she is unpopular. She does not care about social events. She is confident and not afraid to speak her mind.
Bianca pleads with her father to allow her to date, she argues that he is being entirely unfair (which he is but Larry Miller plays the character in such a funny way that you can’t help but like him despite his ridiculous overprotective rules). Walter Stratford finally gives in (somewhat). He relents and tells Bianca that she may do whatever she wants but only if Kat does it too. This ‘compromise’ does not make Bianca happy because Kat never dates or goes anywhere, a fact her father is well aware of.
This rule is the basis of the entire story. Cameron asks Bianca out on a date but she tells him about her father’s new rule. So Cameron sets out to find someone to date Kat, thinking that he will then finally get his chance to date Bianca however she is hoping to date Joey as soon as Kat has a date.
The question is who will date Kat? Cameron’s hopes turn to Patrick Verona. He’s a ‘bad boy’ shrouded in rumours and mystery. He’s actually just a good guy who like Kat, does what he wants without feeling the need to fit into the popular high school crowds.
A plan is cooked up and Patrick is bribed to ask Kat out on a date. At first it seems the pair will never get along and then sparks begin to fly.
Kat Stratford is our main protagonist despite the entire scheme occurring because of Cameron’s crush. Kat is made out to be ‘other’ at school. She is mocked and somewhat feared because of her loud, straightforward, and at times, slightly abrasive personality. She is not afraid to express her opinions and it does not matter whether she is speaking to her sister, her father, a teacher, or a boy. Kat Stratford will say what is on her mind. Kat loves music, she dreams of starting a band but she knows her father won’t approve. She has been accepted to Sarah Lawrence College in New York and this causes some tension between her and her father as he does not want her to go. She despises the popular crowd, Joey Donner in particular, and she does not want him anywhere near her sister Bianca. There is tension between the sisters because Kat does not understand Bianca’s desire to be popular, and she is also sick and tired of people comparing her to her perkier younger sister. As the movie goes on, we learn more about Kat. As her and Patrick grow closer, she explains some of her reasoning behind her actions, and she explains why she despises Joey so much. I really enjoy Kat’s character arc but I will talk about this more when I am discussing themes.
Bianca Stratford is not a one dimensional character and this is something that I love because she so easily could have been. Bianca is young and naive and she is simply trying to survive high school. She does care about her social life and about her popularity. She does want to fit in at school. She does care about how she looks and about what people think of her however none of these are bad things. She is frustrated because she feels as though Kat can never see her point of view and she feels frustrated by her father’s stifling nature. She feels like Kat is being hypocritical because at one point in time she was very popular and then one day she decided she no longer wanted to be, but this revelation gives us more insight into Kat’s character. She did care about popularity at some point which is why Bianca is so frustrated with her now. She feels her father and her sister are stopping her from living her life, having experiences, making mistakes, and learning for herself and while yes, she starts off a little vapid and selfish when the movie begins, her frustrations and feelings are very valid. I really like her growth as a character in this movie which I will also talk about in themes.
Patrick Verona is a great guy. He’s cool. He’s his own person. He does not care what people think. People judge him because of how he dresses (combat boots are very edgy of course) and really as the movie plays out, we see that he is a very thoughtful guy. He really cares about Kat and by the end of the movie he has fallen hard for her. His one bad judgement call in this movie is the fact that he allows himself to get swept into Cameron and Joey’s plan and he accepts the bribes to ask Kat on a date. It is the typical plot where at first it is just about the money but then feelings become involved. Kat and Patrick make a really lovely couple and they bond and connect as the movie plays out but of course, we all know that at some point Kat will find out that he was paid to ask her out and she will be devastated and furious when she finds out and rightly so. I like Patrick. I don’t like the date scheme and it is disappointing that he went along with it but Ledger was brilliant in this movie. He was charming and funny and even though it does take a while to get there, his integrity does win in the end.
Cameron and Joey are Bianca’s two suitors and I am talking about them together because they are the absolute opposite of each other. I think that Bianca’s interest in Joey and then finally Cameron really represents her personal growth in the movie. In the beginning, she is interested in the wealthy and handsome Joey. Joey is overly confident, in fact he is cocky. He wants to act and he is always talking about himself and his good looks. He is self-absorbed and he only wants to date Bianca because it will stroke his own ego. Cameron is sweet, and shy and he is willing to do a lot for Bianca. He cares about her as a person. He learns french so he can tutor her. He thinks she is smarter than she gives herself credit for and even after he learns of her plan to ditch him for Joey, he makes sure she gets home safely when Joey leaves her with no ride home. He is not a doormat either though and I respect the fact that he confronts her about her behaviour. He tells her to her face how much he likes her, he lists out all he has done for her but he does not demand that she should automatically like him back. He tells her that if she was not interested then she should have told him instead of stringing him along and he tells her that she just cannot be so selfish. It is a really great scene and it is a turning point for them both. Bianca has to go through the naive infatuation with Joey before she can learn what an awful guy he really is, before she can see what is right in front of her. When she and Cameron do finally connect, it is clear that they are actually a very sweet couple.
Walter Stratford is an overbearing father. I think if Larry Miller wasn’t so funny I would really dislike this character. He loves his daughters and he does just want what is best for them and he means well but he is stifling and he does need to understand that he cannot bubble wrap his girls forever. His rules are unfair and over the top. They do need to live their own lives and make mistakes so that they can learn and grow and mature as human beings. He does have some really witty lines though and he does redeem himself with some very tender moments. The father/daughter relationship can be complex, especially when fathers must accept the fact that their little girls are growing up and becoming young women.
There are a few themes presented in this movie. Individuality vs society, love, familial relationships, personal growth and the idea of public perception vs personal reality. I think I would argue that the idea of public perception vs personal reality and personal growth are the two most important themes in this movie because every character is perceived a certain way when the movie begins and as it goes on, we learn what they are really like.
When the movie begins, Kat and Bianca are stereotypical opposites. One popular, one not. One cares about popularity, one doesn’t. One wants to date, one doesn’t. Perky vs blunt, etc. It would have been very easy to allow these two girls to remain stereotypical and one dimensional but instead the movie explores their personalities. Both sisters struggle to understand each other because of their differences but as time passes and the audience learns more about who they actually are as people, the sisters begin to connect because they understand each other more.
Kat finally opens up to her sister and explains why she dislikes Joey so much and why she does not want him anywhere near her younger sister. (No spoilers – go watch the movie!), and Bianca explains to Kat that she feels so frustrated because she feels like Kat and their father never let her experience anything for herself. There is a lovely moment towards the end of the movie where Bianca thanks Kat for everything that she has done for her. It is a lovely moment for two reasons. It shows Bianca’s growth – this once selfish girl is acknowledging that her sister has done a lot for her and she is saying thank you. It is also nice to see these two characters who began as such opposites find some common ground and move closer together. Their relationship will definitely improve now that they can both see where the other is coming from.
Something that I really like about this movie is that while the characters get fleshed out as the movie plays out, they don’t necessarily change. Kat realises that she can let people into her life and not always look for the worst in people however she does not at any point lose her fiery, blunt personality. She doesn’t change her look and she doesn’t stop expressing her opinions. At no point does Patrick tell her that she is too much, or too loud, or too anything. He falls for her as she is. The biggest change is that she finally accepts that she has to let her sister live and learn for herself.
At the end of the movie, she is still confident, she is still happy to express her thoughts, her opinions, and her feelings – As she does in the arguably most well-known scene from this movie where she stands up in English class and reads her poem expressing how hurt she is by Patricks’s actions. Kat becomes a more well-rounded person yes, but she never changes. Her straightforward personality is never a bad thing and I really like that she did not lose her spirit at the end of this movie and become a ‘nicer’ person – nicer in the sense that she would stop being blunt, loud, and confident enough to speak her mind just because the popular guys in high school find her intimidating. She’s true to herself and she learns about herself along the way and I really love her arc.
I feel the same way about Bianca. Bianca is never called selfish for caring about popularity, she is called selfish because of how she treats people. I really appreciate that her arc was about her understanding her sister more. I love how she took the time to be able to vocalise her frustrations. I really love that by the end of the movie, she has learned who she really likes and she learns that she can’t just think about herself but she does not suddenly not care about all the things she cared about at the beginning. She still cares about her friends, but she has learned who her true friends are. She still cares about being able to live her life and figure things out for herself, and she has maturely explained her point of view to her sister. She still cares about how she looks and what people think of her and that is fine because these are not bad things. It is okay to care about how you look. It is okay to want to fit in at high school – what is not okay is treating people badly and this is a lesson that Bianca learns.
I love that both sisters matured and developed while retaining their personalities. They grew as people but they did not become completely different people and that is one of the reasons I love this movie.
This plot moves fairly quickly and while there are a lot of moving parts, it does not feel overwhelming.
This movie is an adaptation of a Shakespeare play and something that Shakespeare does in so many of his plays, The Taming of the Shrew, King Lear, etc., is weave his plot and sub-plot together seamlessly. This movie does this too.
If you study one of Shakespeare’s plays, you will see how his sub-plots mirror his main plot. A really good example of this can be found in King Lear – which I will most likely discuss in more detail in a future blog post.
Kat’s story is the main plot while Bianca’s is the sub-plot yet both are given the same amount of attention and both girls can grow and their stories are not separate. They are weaved together.
In my opinion there are three key scenes in this movie – The party, The bleachers, and The prom.
Let me explain.
I have spoken before about how I believe that a movie’s structure can match it’s plot and how the pace may seem slow if the character is struggling and then when our character gains confidence, the movie’s pace picks up.
In 10 Things I Hate About You, I feel that these three key scenes are where we see the story get developed the most.
Kat and Patrick bond at the party. She gets drunk and hits her head. He looks after her and brings her home. Despite his genuine feelings for her that have developed, he won’t kiss her while she is drunk. This upsets Kat and her being upset by this shows the audience that she wanted him to kiss her, meaning that she has grown to like him too.
It is at this party that Joey leaves Bianca to get home all by herself and she has to turn to Cameron even after she ignored him all night. He does give her a lift home and it is in the car that he gives her a piece of his mind. So this party is a turning point for all of our characters.
The scene where Patrick sings I Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You on the bleachers is one of my favourite scenes in any movie. It is cliché. It is a huge public gesture and I think if it was any other actor I would cringe but Heath Ledger manages to make it charming. It is a very endearing moment because the cool and mysterious Patrick makes a fool of himself for Kat, who is clearly smitten by the gesture as it gets them back on speaking terms. This moment is a turning point for them as a couple and it also sets up the big downfall when Kat inevitably learns about the bribes.
The prom is where all our storylines collide. Kat decides to go to the prom with Patrick. By doing so, she is opening up and allowing herself to be vulnerable. She is having a great time with him and the night starts off so nicely that we as the audience, know it is too good to be true. Bianca finally gets to go to prom, the event she has been dreaming of the entire movie – Would you like to guess who she goes with?
It is at prom that the painful truth finally comes out and Kat is rightfully devastated when she finds out that Patrick had been paid to ask her on dates. He tries to explain himself. He tries to tell her that he has genuinely fallen for her but she won’t hear of it. It is a hard scene to watch, especially since we know how big of a deal it was that Kat decided to open up and attend prom with Patrick because up until a certain point she was adamant that she was not going. She feels stupid and used and Julia Stiles plays her so well because every time I watch this movie I am always devastated for her when this happens.
Bianca has an amazing moment at prom. If you know then you know and if you don’t – watch the movie! In my opinion, Bianca’s amazing moment at prom shows how much she has grown as a character and she completely redeems herself for her behaviour in the beginning.
The prom is a really satisfying scene to watch and something that I really like about it is that it has a stage-like quality to it. If you are familiar with Shakespeare plays then you will know that there are often scenes near the end where all of the characters are onstage and all of the confusion gets cleared up when the truth finally spills out and gets revealed to all. It is a very theatrical moment and as I said, every time I watch it, I feel sorry for Kat.
10 Things I Hate About You is a movie that I have seen many times and it is one that I know I will watch many times again. I love the cast and the soundtrack is great too. I really like the story and of course, being an English Literature student I do enjoy modern adaptations of classic plays – not always, but I enjoy them when they are done well and I do believe that this adaptation of The Taming of the Shrew is done very well. I would recommend watching this movie on a rainy day or on a day when you need a laugh. It is funny, it is touching, it is a little cheesy at times, but overall it is a very enjoyable movie to watch.
This has been Movie Monday. I hope you enjoyed it. Have you seen 10 Things I Hate About You? Let me know what you think in the comments below. I hope you all have a great week.
Make sure to check out tomorrow’s Book of The Month discussion all about Michael Connelly’s City Of Bones and follow me on Instagram if you don’t already (@katelovesliterature) because I will be announcing September’s #bookofthemonth very soon.