Sunday, July 17, 2016

Movie Review: "(500) Days of Summer" (2009)

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Movie"(500) Days of Summer"
Director: Marc Webb
Year: 2009
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 35 minutes

Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a true romantic, and from the moment he met Summer (Zooey Deschanel), who doesn't believe in true love, he thought she was the one. Tom tells the story of the 500 days Summer was in his life.

When you first see the title of this film, it may be a little confusing. How can there be "(500) Days of Summer" when a year is only 365 days!? Well, this is all cleared up when we find out Summer doesn't refer to the season, but rather, to a person. Full disclosure, the first film for 2016's SUN-day Summer Movie Month is not technically about summer.

Zooey Deschanel plays Summer, who considers herself a realist and doesn't buy into frilly concepts like love. Tom, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, on the other hand, convinces himself Summer is 'the one' from the moment he lays eyes on her. At first, she doesn't budge, insisting that life will eventually get in the way of any romance they might have, but also eventually, Tom and Summer have a strong, undeniable connection we totally get invested in, even when life does get in the way. This film is told out of chronological order. It actually opens on day 488 with Summer and Tom sitting on a park bench. Summer has on what appears to be an engagement ring, and then, it all jumps back to day 1, the first day Tom and Summer meet. From here, the movie jumps to day 290 where Summer tells Tom she thinks she needs a change, then it goes back to day 1, and so forth and so on. The film continues to jump around its timeline, slowly unfolding what happened between Day 1, 'love at first sight,' to Day 290, a possible breakup, and day 488, together on a bench. This manner of storytelling adds a lot of intrigue to the rom-com-dram as the audience must piece together the last 500 days of Tom's life along with him. Like love itself, this story seems messy from the outside, but upon closer examination, it's really just perfect for such a crazy thing.

It is clear the arrival of Summer into Tom's life had a profound effect on it. We watch how one person manages to change the course of another person's life, for better and for worse. This may lead audiences to think about their own life, love, happiness, misery, and the grand scheme of things. There are moments in one's life that are clearly major turning points, and it really makes you wonder, if there had been one, tiny difference on any given day, you might not be where you are now. MIND BLOWN. For Tom, this moment was meeting Summer.

Many people might not like "(500) Days of Summer" because it doesn't conform to what some may see as a "normal" film. The disjointed storytelling is only part of its strange puzzle. There are also moments where characters break out into dance numbers in the middle of walking to the tune of Hall & Oates. They work at a sappy greeting card company and are forced to write about love even while going through heartbreak. Tom takes advice from his much younger yet much more mentally mature sister. Summer turns into two dozen faces on a crowded bus in Tom's mind. We welcome these quirky changes in its narrative. Movies can get so stale and boring when they follow the same strict formula, and this romance somehow feels more real, even when our two main characters might be on the verge of collapse. Most of this has to do with the chemistry between Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel, the queen of quirk. They are so good together. We completely believe Gordon-Levitt as the heart-on-his-sleeve romantic and Deschanel as a love skeptic. Gordon-Levitt is excellent as Tom and he lends himself perfectly to this role as a hopeless romantic. Zooey Deschanel, as we mentioned, specializes in these oddball types of indie movie roles that have strong ideas about life and relationships. She fits the part of Summer like it was written specifically for her, even though it wasn't.

"(500) Days of Summer" is director Marc Webb's first feature film, and up until he made this film, Webb primarily directed music videos. This film shows he has a good knack for storytelling and an eye for interesting visuals and kitschy style. Even the most hardened souls will find it difficult not to smile at a movie like this. Everyone who has experienced love or heartbreak should watch this as soon as possible. It's deeper than a surface level rom-com, but it's not so dramatic that you'll tire of its subjects. It's simply honest, charming, relatable and different in the best ways possible.

My Rating: 8/10
BigJ's Rating: 7/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.8/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 86%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!
Last summer, we were watching: "Wet Hot American Summer"

Two summers ago, we were watching: "The Sandlot"

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