MEME: From Helios to Hollywood – The Taming of the Shrew
This week, we’re going to look at
The Taming of the Shrew
If you attended high school, you’ve either read or watched a performance of The Taming of the Shew at some point. I was one of those dorks in 10th grade English class who was enthralled by this play. I happen to adore a lot of the Shakespeare plays and Taming has always been my favorite. The thing that most of my fellow classmates missed is that Taming is one of the funniest rom-coms ever written. Fast forward the time frame a few hundred years and you’d have a movie that would fit right in with the rom-coms of our day.
Well, in 1999, that’s just what Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith did. The reworked the script to fit our day and age and along with director Gil Junger, created one of my all time favorite movies.
The first time I saw 10 Things I Hate About You, I didn’t know that I was sitting down to watch a Shakespeare adaptation. My friends looked at me like I had 8 heads when I got super excited upon learning that the main characters were Kat and Bianca Stratford and that Bianca “wasn’t allowed to date until Kat does.” I got it right away and spent the rest of the movie watching one of my favorite plays with a modern twist. No matter how modern though, the story is still the same and hilarious as ever.
The other great thing about 10 Things is the cast. At the time that this movie was made, the cast was not super well known like they are now.
Julia Stiles was cast as Katerina “Kat” Stratford. To bring her character into modern times, she plays a girl who was once burned by a jerk that she was dating and has taken a turn for the feminist, having no interest in dating as a result. She nails the part perfectly and totally embodies the character.
Heath Ledger was cast as Patrick Verona, based on the super cocky character of Petruchio and again, he nailed it. My favorite moment for him in the movie is when he’s first hired to date Kat, she’s rejecting him as usual and he looks at her with that signature smile and says “…but I bet you’ve thought about me naked.” To this day, that scene makes me laugh my ass off.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt is cast as Cameron James, based on the character of Lucentio. Transferred into Padua High as an Army brat, he immediately falls madly in love with Bianca Stratford and teams up with Michael to hire Patrick to woo Kat so that Bianca can date. While Patrick is up to his shenanigans with Kat, Cameron poses as a French tutor as a way to spend time with Bianca and get to know her.
The cast goes on and on with David Krumholtz as Michael Eckman (based on Tranio), Larysa Oleynik as Bianca, Andrew Keegan as Joey Donner (based on Hortensio), Susan May Pratt, Gabriel Union, Daryl Mitchell and more.
My two favorite “side characters” in this film are played by Allison Janney and Larry Miller.
Allison Janney plays the school’s guidance counselor, who also happens to spend her time in her office writing an erotic fiction novel and her dialog is HILARIOUS. At one point, Kat get’s sent to the guidance counselor’s office for making her feminist opinions known in her English class and when Kat walks in, Ms. Perky is typing away on her laptop and yells out to her secretary “What’s another word for ‘engorged’?” HAHAHAHA!!! Fantastic!
Larry Miller plays the Stratford girls’ father, who happens to be an ObGyn and his greatest fear in life is that his daughters will get pregnant by some horny teenage boy. He even goes so far as to make Bianca walk around the house wearing a false pregnancy belly right before a date to drive the point home.
Overall, I thought that this movie was the best adaptation of The Taming of the Shrew that has ever been made. Funny from one end to the other. I have watched it a million times and probably will watch it many, many more times.
Here’s the trailer for those of you that haven’t seen it: