I Burn, I Pine, I Perish...
Especially when you're a teenager and (probably) clueless about how everyone's sexy parts even work, often the easiest place to turn for guidance is fiction. Yeah, our parents and teachers can tell us stuff, but they're old and don't understand our feelings. Not like the suit-wearing, mostly male ad-men who carefully craft the adolescent fantasy for the casual consumer. They get us. They care.
Cynical ramblings aside, teen romance comedies are a dime a dozen, and their heyday in the late 1990's brought some of the best and worst in the genre. "10 Things", based of Shakespeare's "Taming of the Shrew" (a problematic play in itself) is one of the few that seems to get teen romance right. It's been fifteen years since this movie premiered, so it seems fair to ask: does this love story still hold up?
"10 Things I Love About Brew": The Rules
1. Drink for title drops. That's the full title for Easy Mode.
2. Drink when they drink. As per usual, there's a party scene in this wacky teen comedy.
3. Drink for Daddy Issues. When your dad's a gynecologist whose wife has just left him, you've got those in spades.
4. Drink when Kat is called a bitch.
5. Drink when a reference is made to Shakespeare or one of his plays.
All the above rules apply. Also...
1. Title drops: Drink when someone says the word "hate".
2. Drink for comical accidents. Like someone getting hit with an arrow.
3. Drink for SAT words. Stick to the kids with this rule, the adults like to pretend that they're smarter.
4. Drink for penis references.
All the above rules apply. Also...
1. Drink when someone tries to be hip.
2. Drink for moments of "genuine human connection".
3. Drink for inappropriate teacher/student behavior.
Krissy Pappau: Hopeless romantic (Medium)
Sandy B'Drinkin: Felt weird inside her shirt watching this movie (Easy)
Dame Poppy Middleton: Doesn't believe in love (Easy)
Some Guy: Wishes real high school drama was accompanied by catchy tunes (Medium)
Champjagne Austgin: Noticed the costume design was highly inaccurate (Medium)
Big Moose: Wants to spend a day on rowboating and paintball (Hard)
Velma Jinkies: Led a 20 minute conversation about Batman before the game started (Hard)
Hippest High School in the Pacific Northwest
As the film illustrates later when the kids' English teacher turns one of Shakespeare's sonnets into a rap (drink), getting teenagers interested in the Bard is no easy task. There's so much dense text using words that nobody's even heard of for centuries (even most actors need a frickin dictionary to read his plays), the plots are outdated ("Taming of the Shrew" is about, among other things, how marital abuse leads to marital happiness) and the costumes are...pretty dorky.
In the opening scene, we see a group of teenagers bopping along to the Barenaked Ladies' mega-hit "One Week" (trite compared to their other songs, but I digress). They are rudely interrupted by our heroine Kat Stratford as she pulls up alongside in her own car, blasting Joan Jett's "Bad Reputation." This scene elegently sets up Kat's deviation from the high school norm. Except, hold on now...
"Guys," Sandy drawled, "this song is so done. They just used it in Freaks and Geeks".
It's true: cult classic "Freaks and Geeks" came out the YEAR BEFORE "10 Things" was released in theatres, and even though few people were watching it at the time, it did influence how we think of the stereotypical "bad kid". Not to say that this movie steals from "Freaks and Geeks", but the creators couldn't have been unaware of the choice they were making by using this song. And that makes them lazy.
The film's laziness comes in fits and starts. Later it does truly appear that they're doing their research on some fronts: Kat is an avid fan of Bikini Kill and The Raincoats, two Grrrrl punk groups from the Seattle area that a real girl like Kat would have been all over. But then you delve into the high school politics and some things come off strange. Not only does the movie contain a classic "this is where you sit" montage where a character lists the different cliques present at Padua High, those cliques are so off-the-charts goofy that they border on unbelievable.
See, you have your coffee-heads (because Seattle, am I right?), your white Rastas (sure, I could see that), and your...cowboys.
Luckily, our main cast is plenty cool. That's why Heath Ledger's outrageous behavior doesn't get a drink during this game. He's not trying to be cool. He just is.
So setting this in a high school is a weird enough concept to begin with, but it works because if there's ever a group of people filled with misguided opinions and beliefs, it's teenagers. You can keep the main events of the play intact (with some tweaking) because teenagers are stupid and it's totally plausible that a boy would accept money to go out with an unpopular girl. Still, the creators changed the tone and many of the characters drastically, which is fine because nobody wants to see abusive high school relationships in a motion picture.
The characters who got the least development in the play, Kate and Bianca, are reinvented in the movie in completely genius ways. First, there's Kat. What did the filmmakers do to convey her utter sense of unlikability? They made her a very outspoken feminist.
That said, the most surprising thing about her is that she lets herself fall for a guy like Patrick in the first place. But Big Moose assures us that telling someone in the know that you not only know who the Raincoats are but you appreciate their music is a huge step down the road to getting them in bed with you.
Thing is, despite her bubblehead appearance, she knows exactly what she's doing. During an argument their house, Kat tells Bianca that she doesn't need to do what everyone expects her to. Bianca responds cheerfully with "I happen to like being adored, thank you."
Bianca's seen what being smart and outspoken has done for Kat's popularity and wants none of what she's getting every day. She's getting all the benefits of being at the top of the social ladder with none of the danger that she'll actually need to follow through on any of her flirtations. She's an icon. Untouched. As JoGoLev's character calls her, "pure".
After a particularly eventful party, in which Kat got staggeringly drunk and Bianca accidentally revealed to Cameron that she was actually pursuing the not-so-secretly-a-jerk playboy the whole time, the two couples make their way back home. They then experience two parallel scenes.
Patrick, after placing the car in park, starts a conversation with Kat about her home life. They talk about her dad, her sister, and some other things that have been stressing her out. She, in her drunken state, is touched by his attention and basically offers herself up to him, inviting him to make a move.
Patrick staunchly declines the offer, muttering that they should maybe do this another time. Kat becomes infuriated and stalks into the house. The next twenty minutes of the film revolve around Patrick trying to win her back over.
Bianca interrupts him by grabbing his face and kissing him. She leaves the car immediately, leaving Cameron to celebrate her newfound attraction to him.
Sorry, movie...but what are you saying here?
WRONG. He has nothing to apologize for. If he had kissed her, it would have been molestation.
"So what," argues Poppy, "we should give him a medal?" No, but we need to acknowledge what happened here. Patrick doesn't throw this in her face later. He doesn't use his chivalry as leverage to get in her pants later. He genuinely doesn't want to make out with a drunk girl because he's a fucking gentleman, who apparently understands Kat more than she understands herself.
Meanwhile Cameron, who acts like a complete douchenozzle to a girl he supposedly likes, gets rewarded for his behavior. The movie does its best to make Cameron the "White Knight" to Bianca's damsel, and after years of being out of high school I can see what incredible bullshit this all is. Cameron doesn't know Bianca well enough to make judgment calls about her personality like this. He fell in love with her for completely superficial reasons and the moment she acted in a way that didn't fit his vision of her, he nearly gave up trying to pursue her and instead tried to make her feel bad on purpose for not being attracted to him.
Kat and Patrick's storyline has a lot going for it. The two actors have a lot of genuine chemistry, and it makes sense that the characters would find a kind of kinship with each other. Cameron and Bianca's storyline is pure wish fulfillment, told from Cameron's perspective, about how the nice guy finally got the girl. It doesn't hold up, it's like every other romantic comedy ever, and sadly, it fits the tone of this movie far more than anything going on with Kat and Patrick. Even the C plot with Cameron and Kat's weird friends getting together is more realistic, and that involves misquoting the Scottish Play to win someone's affection.
The Million Dollar Question
No. Probably not.
We all agreed on this sentiment. Kat just got into the school of her dreams on the other side of the country. We don't know Patrick's post-graduation plans, so he might go with her, but chances are the relationship won't last Kat's earlier described blossoming into adulthood. And that's fine. She'll probably get involved with a political group on campus and meet some nice guy (or girl, there's way more of those at Sarah Lawrence), whose ideas mesh with hers completely.
But that's fine. They don't need to get married. Kat and Patrick's relationship is one of the best high school relationships I've seen depicted in a movie. It's fun, it's exciting, it changes both of them for the better, but it probably will run its course. The movie makes no implication that they're soulmates. Just two people who understand each other, who find each other attractive and can open themselves up around each other.
Even if those two people are Julia Stiles and Heath Ledger.
Drink for sociopathic behavior.
You can interpret this in many different ways. There's casual sociopathy, like the arrogant jerk's pursuing of Bianca "for fun" or Bianca's best friend hooking up with him as his second choice, or Patrick drilling a hole into Cameron's social studies book.
Drink when someone smokes.
This is a pick-up rule more than anything, as only Patrick smokes and he mostly smokes at the beginning of the film. But it should help out a little bit.
Drink for references to Patrick's "exploits".
They're all lies, but they say that once he ate a duck, and that he sold his liver on the black market. And they say he's from...Down Under. Gasp.
For Your Inebriation is written by Krissy Pappau (Hollis Beck). All "10 Things I Hate About You" images are owned by Walt Disney Studios.