Movie #12: (500) Days of Summer

I guess if (500) Days of Summer is going to be a romantic comedy for the indie-film set, you can’t go wrong by casting Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the leads. They are both good actors with a taste for the off-beat, but both cute enough to make for a likeable couple that you want to root for. I know I was drawn in by the thought of following the ups and downs of this pair. I was also delightfully surprised by some of the unconventional aspects. For starters, the day-number device: from the title we know that the story spans 500 days, but director Marc Webb cleverly makes use of an on-screen number to indicate which day we are seeing. It’s especially helpful because this movie has a penchant for jumping around, contrasting the early days of the relationship (when it’s all sweaty palms and awkward excitement), to later on (when things are tortuous and troubled). We’re also assisted by an occasional “ironic fairy-tale voice” narrator, who informs us early on that the story of Tom and Summer is not a love story. (Of course, as we watch them meet at work and get to know each other and find things in common, we probably won’t believe him.) Those little elements are fun and add to the flavour of the movie, but I’m not quite so sure about the more heavy-handed fantasy elements (after their first night together, Tom’s morning is literally like a scene from Disney’s Enchanted, complete with music, dancing, and an animated bird. I know it’s tongue-in-cheek, but I think the scale tips a bit on the side of earnestness rather than satire). Another element that dragged on the film were Tom’s self-pitying scenes when things weren’t going well with Summer. While Gordon-Levitt did a good job at moping and bringing everyone down, it was really too much. Unfortunately, for all the smart elements that tried to make this into a different take on rom-com, there were still far too many cliches to maintain that indie-cred veneer. (3.5 out of 5)

12 down, 38 to go!

One thought on “Movie #12: (500) Days of Summer”

  1. Hmm….still debating whether I should watch this movie. You know, I like those romantic comedies, but at least your review will keep my expectations of this movie under wraps.

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