xXx: Return of Xander Cage
The last forty minutes of the movie do come together in a pretty diverting way.
I'm trying to remember the last movie I saw that didn't end with a high school prom. "Ravenous,'' maybe. Even the next film I saw, "Never Been Kissed,'' ends with a prom. The high school romance genre has become so popular that it's running out of new ideas and has taken to recycling classic literature.
My colleague James Berardinelli made a list recently: "Clueless'' was based on Emma, "She's All That'' was inspired by "Pygmalion'' and "Cruel Intentions'' was recycled from "Les Liaisons Dangereuses'' (prompting Stanley Kauffmann to observe that it was better back in the days when high school students were allowed to take over city government for a day, instead of remaking French novels). To this list we might also add the film update of "Great Expectations" (1998), Cinderella's true story in "Ever After'' and "Romeo + Juliet,'' which was anything but. There's even "The Rage: Carrie 2''--a retread of "Carrie,'' a work that in my opinion ranks right up there with the best of Austen, Shaw and Shakespeare.
"10 Things I Hate About You'' is inspired, in a sortuva kinduva way, by Shakespeare's "The Taming of the Shrew,'' in the same sense that "Starship Troopers'' was inspired by "Titus Andronicus.'' It doesn't remake Shakespeare so much as evoke him as a talisman, by setting its story at Padua High School, naming its characters Stratford and Verona, making one of the heroines a shrew, etc. There is even a scene where the shrew is assigned to rewrite a Shakespeare sonnet.
And yet ... gee, the movie is charming, despite its exhausted wheeze of an ancient recycled plot idea (boy takes bribe to ask girl to prom, then discovers that he really likes her--but then she finds out about the bribe and hates him). I haven't seen that idea in almost two months, since "She's All That'' (boy makes bet he can turn plain wallflower into prom queen, and does, but falls in love with her, after which she discovers, etc., etc.).