10 Things I Hate About You - B-
Viewed April 3, 1999 at Union Square

File under Generic Teenage Comedy. Ten Things I Hate About You gives plenty of proof that the teen comedy has become a badly-ossified genre. We have the obligatory Party Scene, the Big Denoument at The Prom, and The Scene Where Our Hero Charms The Heroine in front of The Entire School. There's even a scene similar to last year's Disturbing Behavior where a newcomer is given an impromptu sociology lesson on high-school cliques. Since the plotting is so rote, one has to take pleasure in the little details, and it's here where 10 Things is at its most effective.

The script, while conventional in plotting, is spiked with an acid wit and the cast, adults and teenagers (who actually look like teenagers!) alike, uniformly serves it well. (I especially liked David Krumholtz and Larry Miller.) And in one of the film's few innovations, neither of the the two members of our primary couple[1] are the most popular boy/girl in school -- the boy (Australian Heath Ledger) is a rumored psychotic, and the girl (Julian Stiles in a charming performance) is an ardent feminist[2]. Together, they have the most effective romantic chemistry in any film yet this year.

[1]True to Shakespeare, more than one couple finds happiness here.
[2]Admittedly of the Disney variety. She lives in Washington state, and her favorite band is .. the beyond-vanilla Letters to Cleo? Uh-huh. (Though I suspect there would be a rip in the space-time fabric if the likes of Sleater-Kinney appeared in a bubblegum Hollywood teen comedy.)