The human heart was—and remains—a mystery to me. But I’m learning. I have to. —Anthony Bourdain

A Love Letter to the movie Ten Things I Hate About You

The teen movies of my generation (Okay, I just pulled the “my generation” card, yikes) didn’t involve vampires, wolves, or a lot of supernatural love triangles. It was mostly a very pretty version of the high school experience, mostly ending in climactic scenes involving the prom. I loved three in particular, She’s All That (Hello Freddie Prinze Jr.), Drive Me Crazy (Makeovers and girl fights) and Ten Things I Hate About You.

I loved Ten Things I Hate About You the best out of the three because the protagonist was an angry, verbose, feminist who wrote, played guitar, and played football (soccer, same diff). She liked rock music, got in trouble for being too opinionated, never followed what anyone thought they were supposed to do, but still managed to go assimilate into the crowd when needed at a party and (almost) pulled it off.

I.E. the person I wanted to be in high school. Who could juggle all those activities and still have a life, without caring what anybody else thought, and wrote in iambic pentameter. Kat Stratford (Julia Stiles) was my adolescent hero for a lot of reasons.

Back to the movie. I love it mainly because of two scenes:

  1. Heath Ledger’s very public apology singing Can’t Take My Eyes Off You. One, that breathy, almost perfectly on tune rendition with a slight Aussie accent, acapella until the school band starts, dang. I still think that it would take a lot of cojones to pull that off, and I don’t know how it worked since it was so camp, but it did. Even the chase scene at the end with the school security was priceless, with him slapping the butt of the chubbier one chasing him. Fifteen years later, still the best public declaration of love (real or fictional) that I’ve seen.


  1. The Paintball date. After flashing her football coach to get Patrick Verona (Heath Ledger) out of detention, they head to the marina for a paddleboat, and then to a deserted paintball field where, instead of shooting guns, they were armed with balloons filled with paint that they got to throw at each other. Growing up, I truly believed there were places like these in real life, and my goal in life was to go on a date at one of these places, and scoured newspapers and the internet for any similar ones opening here. I now realize that this might not have existed at all as one, paint is expensive and even actual paintball gun ammo which carries about 1/18th of the paint that those balloons had is expensive, never mind the cost of the jumpsuits they had to wear, who would do this as a business venture?  It was amazing though. They had the place to themselves. They got a little dirty but looked like a rainbow exploded on them after (which, I do like color). The ammo didn’t hurt (much, I hope), and it ended with a movie star kiss, where he threw away his goggles before leaning in for a smooch.

Suffice to say, it’s been more than a decade later. Heath Ledger is gone. Julia Stiles has moved on and off from Dexter, and Joseph Gordon Levitt has had a movie where his character enjoys his own company all.the.time.

I still love it. It’s on my playlist for feel good movies that don’t want to make me hit myself for too much cuteness.

Have you watched this movie? Tell me what you think!

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