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Directed by Gil Junger (1999, Touchstone Pictures)
Starring Heath Ledger, Julia Stiles, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Larisa Oleynik

The new boy in school hires somebody to go out with an unpopular and opinionated girl so that he can date her younger sister.

View count: Twice



4 stars

August 23rd, 2004 on TV  
    Even the second time around, I felt that this movie delivered teen material in a very mature way, with very little of the gross-out humor or clichés that we've seen in other movies of the same genre. Of course, he should have told her that he was paid money to start taking her out. But he felt so bad about it, and so embarrassed, that he just couldn't. The look on his face when she finds out, on the dance floor, was priceless.

The humor was terrific throughout the film. It gave me genuine laughs at the situations and the dialog. Especially funny, as he is during all of his movies, was the girls' father. But "who knocked up your sister" comes in as just as funny, when the younger sister is forced to wear the pregnancy belly for a few minutes before leaving on a date!

The setting for this movie was beautiful, as well. What a great-looking house the girls live in! What kind of high-school do they go to, anyway? It was huge, and built like a castle. Great scenery, though.

I think this was the first movie I saw that starred Julia Stiles. It made me want to watch all that followed, many of which are listed on this site!

This movie delivers in everything it did. Watching on TV, however, several scenes were obviously missing. I might have to pick up the DVD for this one sometime.



4 stars

April 15th, 2000 on Video  
    This is a teen movie, without a doubt.  I forgot how much I love this kind of movie, when it's done right.  I have a weakness for stories where the shy underdog gets the girl, especially when he doesn't have a chance.

But this wasn't a story about the popular girl.  Rather, it is about the girl who is considered to be the shrew, as in Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew.  Only she has good reason to be the way she is.  That's a nice touch right there. 

The depiction of high school is great.  This one had even more cliques than our old high school; they were just stranger.  There was the group of white boys who wished they were black.  The Future MBA's, the guys to stay away from, the popular girls, and so on.  And that's when the main character falls in love.  Of course, the girl is unattainable, but he has to try.

Unfortunately, her father won't let her date unless her older sister also has a date that night.  He thinks he has solved the problem, because the older sister is so moody and contrary, that she will likely never go on a date.  The father is the store clerk from Pretty Woman, who does the sucking up to Julia Roberts.  He is even better here, as a doctor who seems to do mostly teen births.  Thus his strict view on dating.  He goes off on so many great speeches about this, it is so funny.

Meanwhile, our shy new guy, Cameron, hatches a plan with his friend.  They will get the dumb popular guy in school, a catalogue model, to pay somebody to date Kat, the older sister, so he will be free to date.  Meanwhile, he arranges to tutor her in French, which he has to learn on the spot.  He gets to know her really well, and they get along fine, but she is still attracted to the model, because he is the ideal in looks, at least according to teen girls. 

The lucky guy who gets to try and date Kat is another unpopular, but the rumors surrounding him make him the ultimate choice.  He has apparently eaten a live duck, sold his liver for stuff (a car, I think), beaten up state troopers, and other things that make him have a great mean-guy reputation.  But he is really a sweet guy.  The problem with this part of the plot is that the bad guy image disappears immediately once he starts chasing after Kat.  But it isn't really necessary, anyway.

He goes to this women's club, where "angry girl music" is being played, which would really destroy his reputation.  He shows up wherever she is, and he finally manages to get to her.  She is really annoyed now!  But her sister is the popular one, and finally convinces her to go to a Friday night party so that she can also attend.  That's when Pat appears at the front door, just in time.  Kat gets drunk, and ends up creating a new image for herself, and ends up hating her date even more. 

But he is persistent, because he has fallen in love, despite himself.  I have to admit that Kat is much more attractive than her popular sister.  Julia Stiles does a great job of being moody, but she also has a great smile, and eyes that light up very nicely.

Pat still follows her around, from bookstores to guitar shops.  When she still rebuffs him, he does a great rendition of a love song on the stadium seats, while she is practicing gym class.  She then starts falling for him, and wonders why he has fallen for her.  She distracts the detention supervisor by chattering, then finally flashing him, to get Pat free.  They spend time together, and fall in love together.  This was great fun. 

But when he asks her to go to the prom, she questions his motives.  They part on poor terms.  But her sister again gets the better of her, because she desperately wants to go to the prom, even as a sophomore.  So she goes, and they dance, and he surprises her again and again. 

But the model guy shows up, and finds out that her younger sister is here with somebody else.  He reveals that he paid Pat to take out Kat, and she, of course, gets really angry. 

The greatest part about the prom comes when her younger sister knocks out the model guy, after finding out that he had a bet on that he would get her into bed by the end of the night.  And there was the change he brought about her sister in ninth grade after sleeping with her, and causing her to renounce everything that people expected her to do as a teen.

The title comes from the poem she has to write for English class, for a great black-guy teacher, who is one of the funniest people in the whole movie.  She rhymes off ten things that she hates about Pat, in the style of Shakespeare.  She ends up crying by the end, and leaves the classroom without being followed.  She loves him too much to go on hating him, even after what he did. 

They meet again at her car, where he has bought her a guitar, in trying to make reparations.  They seem to go away happy, even though she is due to go to college on the other side of the country next year. 

As for Cameron, who set all this up, I think he ends up happily ever after, too.  He gets a passionate kiss, and a sneaky glance the next day at school. 

There was also a small sub-plot with Cameron's friend and Kat's only friend, who both seem to be obsessed with Shakespeare.  It's fun for the short time it exists, and is a great tribute to the genius who wrote the original version of the story.

The movie was very, very funny, as well as being a teen romance.  I really enjoyed it, but as I said, I have a weakness for this type of story.  With beautiful and hansom lead actors, beautiful settings, and great music, the movie comes in pretty high, despite a few flaws.


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