MOVIE REVIEW: (500) Days of Summer
really can't believe I liked (500) Days of Summer. Oh, don't get me wrong. There were a few things I didn't like about it -- starting with those stupid parenthesis in the title. What does "(500)" even mean?
I understand the number. It refers to the 500 Days Joseph Gordon-Levitt dated Summer. Well, not all 500 of those days are devoted to the dating. Those days include the times he first spotted her as the new employee working with him at the greeting card company (Are there really jobs like this? I love the idea that Hallmark might have 25 people sitting around a room throwing Father's Day jokes at each other for cards).
Zooey Deschanel the indie darling, who has always annoyed me on screen (Failure to Launch, which I hate admitting I saw, and Jim Carrey's Yes Man, as the love interest). She's now dabbling in music, as a singer in the duo She and Him. And this movie hits just the right notes for her.
With her beautiful blue eyes, as she gazes at her boyfriend or a building she likes…I'm reminded of Margot Kidder staring at Superman.
This movie is so smartly written in so many ways.
Levitt is clever and interesting, but he's not like one of those smart movie characters that don't exist in real life (the way I felt about Juno).
I also like the way the relationship dealt with ups-and-downs that seemed realistic. For example, there's a fight at a bar with a big lug that won't leave Daschanel alone. Levitt ends up in a fight with him, and he's a bit proud of himself (no need to spoil how that fight scene goes, but you'll love it). Like most women in real life, she's not impressed. She realizes it would've been easier to just ignore the idiot, instead of ending up in the hospital or being arrested.
There's the scene that ever romantic comedy seems to have these days - karaoke. And the usual idiot best friend has to sing while he's drunk out of his mind. But the conversation the group has at a table, discussing love, is actually one you can see people having. And the drunk guy isn't so annoying, that you wonder why Levitt would be friends with him. Even in his drunken state, he makes some decent points.
Among the most innovative things the movie does - a bizarre dance routine after the first time Levitt has sex with Daschanel. It's to a Hall and Oates song, and has the whole town getting involved. I don't remember a scene this fun since Ferris Bueller gets the town all riled up on a parade float lip-synching Wayne Newton and Beatles songs.
There's also an interesting split screen at a dinner party, that's flat out amazing screenwriting. It has what is actually happening at the party, and what Levitt wanted to happen at the party.
Oh, and just the fact that the 500 days are taken out of sequence, makes for a more interesting film. This also gives an interesting perspective on how the two of them see the relationship.
Early on, one of those days is when Levitt's happy and he has a blast at a record store, making fun of different album covers and being flirtatious. When he's depressed about losing her, and that same day is shown again, you realize that Deschanel is actually getting bothered by the same tired jokes (his making fun of Ringo, her favorite Beatle), and the scene becomes painful. Yet it's the exact same scene. We just watch it knowing things we didn't know previously.
I didn't care for the whole premise that Levitt is really an architect with loftier goals, and they have to sit around talking about, or drawing buildings, as if that's so much more profound than creating a clever greeting card.
I also could've done without the little sister. This is the cliché character that has been around forever.
I remember that character being done nicely in John Hughes' Some Kind of Wonderful. In this movie, the girl is just a lot smarter than someone her age would be. And sure, the advice she gives her heartbroken brother can be funny (and it's also great advice). It's just really hard to buy that these things would come out of a kids mouth.
The soundtrack (even the Hall & Oates) is perfect.
This is a comedy that the hipsters will love, but even 50-year-olds will get a kick out of the unorthodox love story.
I'm giving this an A-.