Adapted from William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, the film begins with Cameron James (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) – a new student at (the fictional) Padua High School – sitting in the office of the quirky (porn-writing) guidance counsellor Ms Perky (Allison Janney).
He is then shown around the school by Michael Eckman (David Krumholtz), who will subsequently become his best friend.
During his tour, Cameron first sees Bianca Stratford (Larisa Oleynik), a beautiful sophomore. But there’s a problem – her over-protective gynaecologist father (deadpan comic Larry Miller) says she isn’t allowed to date unless her “shrew” sister, Katarina (Julia Stiles) – a bad-tempered and unfriendly senior who loves indie rock and feminist prose and hates conformity, and is known to one-and-all as “the heinous bitch” – has a date, too.
So now, for Cameron to date Bianca, he has to find someone to date Kat.
Michael helps him enlist the help of none-too-bright pretty boy/model Joey Donner (Andrew Keegan), tricking him into thinking that he will get to take Bianca out if he pays someone to take out Kat.
Joey’s choice is Patrick Verona (Heath Ledger in his first American movie role) – a bad boy with a mysterious reputation: some say he once ate a live duck, others say he set a state trooper on fire, he is rumoured to have sold his kidneys on the black market for a new set of speakers, and even more claim that he had a brief porn career.
Will Patrick win Kat’s heart? Will Cameron win Bianca’s? Or will everything hit the fan?
Susan May Pratt
Daryl “Chill” Mitchell