Starring Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Written by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber
Directed by Marc Webb
In a summer of shitty blockbuster action movies, it's pleasant to get to watch a nice romance about people (close to) my age. Unfortunately, (500) Days of Summer is a movie where some really good parts don't add up to an entirely cohesive whole.
I could tell you a summary of the movie, but it's essentially boy meets girl, boy falls in love, girl crushes his heart (as women always do). There's really not much else to it, but the film is buoyed by two decent performances by its stars. Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Angels in the Outfield, man! Remember that movie?) is Tom and he's got the forlorn act down pat. I believed him in this movie...I felt like he was a real guy. I felt like I would be just like him were I in his situation. His role worked for me. The same could be said for Zooey Deschanel's Summer. She felt like just as much of a "real" person to me. In a movie that's essentially an ode to misbegotten love (I'm not ruining anything there...they spill those beans in the first minute), Summer needed to be someone that the audience could pine over and Summer is just that. The relationship between Summer and Tom felt right, felt real, and felt meaningful.
The actors are certainly helped by the direction of Marc Webb who does some very creative things (with the help of the writers, for sure). Split screens and fantasy sequences don't always work out well in movies, but in (500) Days, they didn't seem forced or showy. In fact, there were two scenes in this movie that are favorites of anything I've seen this year. One involves a split screen where the left side reveals what Tom thinks is going to happen when he reunites with Summer, while the right side reveals what actually happens. Call me a sucker, but I thought it was ingenious. And there's a fantasy sequence where, after his first night with Summer, Tom dances through a park to Hall & Oates's "You Make My Dreams Come True" (one of my favorite songs) that is priceless (despite the fact that they spoiled it in the trailer...let's not even get into that though, because the trailer spoiled a lot here in this flick).
Add to that, this movie had a narrator...I'm a sucker for narration...I don't know why, but movies that start and end with narration always win me over a bit (see the recent revisited review of The Hudsucker Proxy).
But the fact that I can pick out scenes I loved without liking the movie as a whole is the inherent problem. And while there weren't any scenes I out-and-out hated, there were some problematic issues for me. For starters, I'm tired of movies where the younger sibling of a main character ends up being the voice of reason for their older sibling. It doesn't happen...or at least it never happened to me (no offense to my brothers). Secondly, Tom's job at the greeting card company rang totally untrue...not untrue that he would've worked there, but everything they talked about there relating to his work felt entirely fake. Every greeting card they showed felt like a joke to me...I kept asking myself how this crappy card company stayed in business. Thirdly, the quirky friend of the main character thing...I mean, it's okay, but it's kind of a tired cliché by now. The friends in this movie were fine but they added nothing to the story whatsoever.
I realize that the three issues above are kind of petty, but they're just three minor reasons why the movie didn't gel together the way it should have. I think that my fellow moviegoer hit the nail on the head when she asked the question, "Am I supposed to feel bad for Tom?" and my other fellow moviegoer said, "No, because Summer told him that she didn't want a relationship to begin with." So, the whole movie is pushing you to feel bad for the guy, but subliminally, you're thinking to yourself, "He set himself up for this failed relationship." Sure, it sucks, but he should've known better.
Give me time to think about it and I might explore my problems with the flick some more (I still need to digest the movie a bit...the pitfalls of trying to post a review immediately after I see the movie, I guess). Don't get me wrong, this isn't a bad movie by any means and I'm giving it a rating that falls just below the "recommended" category for me. I really do feel like the relationship between these two characters felt real and I very much liked the way it was shot, but I just feel like it could've been so much better for some reason.
The RyMickey Rating: C