This hilarious high school comedy is loosely based on Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew. The clever and always on-target screenplay by Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith crisply conveys the rigors of teen angst over dating, romance, peer pressure, family rules, and appearances. The ensemble performances by a fresh and talented cast of actors and actresses make this movie immensely appealing. Director Gil Junger keeps the pace swift and the comic sequences light.
Julia Stiles shines as Kat Stratford, a rebellious and smart student who holds herself aloof from everyone around her. She becomes the target for some complicated machinations when her single-parent father (Larry Miller) lays down the law that Bianca (Larisa Oleynik), her younger sister, can't go to parties unless Kat does. Cameron (Joseph-Gordon Levitt), who is madly in love with Bianca, consorts with Michael (David Krumholtz) in a plot to get Cat a date with Patrick (Heath Ledger), another outsider. Meanwhile, Joey (Andrew Keegan), a self-absorbed model, has his own plans for the virginal Bianca.
In this zippy comedy, the adults are as idiosyncratic as the kids. Check out the black teacher (Daryl Chill Mitchell) with a chip on his shoulder, the guidance counselor (Alison Janney) who's writing a pornographic novel, and an easily-duped sports coach (David Leisure).