8.13.2009

Now I am a movie critic too, because I can do pretty much whatever I want

And today I wish to discuss the movie 500 Days of Summer.


I do realize it's already been reviewed by both Handsome Gentlemen and cool Jet-setters. But I want to chime in too, dangit. Because it was wonderful.

Like the awesome-voiced narrator tells us in the very beginning, "This is not a love story. This is a story about love." It follows Tom, played by the surprisingly n adorable and charming Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Tom is a 20-something young pup who studied architecture in college but now has a job creating copy for greeting cards. He believes in destiny, fate, soaking it up in a hot tub with his soul mate, all of it. He meets new receptionist Summer (GH's GF Zooey Deschanel) and, on the basis of her attractiveness and their similar taste in music, decides that she's The One. Unfortunately, although she likes Tom, Summer does not actually believe in love, or marriage, or soul mates. Tom is so infatuated with her, however, that he . . . chooses to kind of ignore this. Until she breaks up with him and he falls completely apart and is determined to win her back.

First off, I would like to say kudos to a movie that actually casts two people in their 20s as romantic partners, with the kinds of jobs and friends that people that age would actually have. This instead of pairing 29-year-old Zooey Deschanel with, oh, I dunno, 47-year-old Jim Carrey and then pretending like the 20-year age difference doesn't even exist. Way to suck, Hollywood.

This movie was pretty much perfect, I thought. It was funny and sad and real--oh my, was it ever real. In fact, there was one point in the movie where Tom stands up and makes an impassioned speech in front of his coworkers about three-fourths of the way in. That was the first time I ever thought, "Um, but would a person really DO that?" That's how I know that I was watching something that was 500 times better than your (sub)average recent romantic comedy. Because those movies expect you to suspend your disbelief before you even leave your dang house. In any other romantic comedy the impassioned speech would have come from Matthew McConaughy to an entire ballroom of people, during a wedding, and maybe he would be naked and holding a pillow over his bits, and then at the end of the speech everyone would be crying and clapping and curing cancer and adopting tiny spicy exotic babies left and right. In this movie there was none of that mess.

The filmmakers did some really clever things that I think worked extremely well. The narrative isn't linear but instead flips around, with title cards letting you know which day of the 500 Days you're on. It makes sense, though, and leads you through the story in a way that is really quite moving. And it also made me want to watch it again to see which little moments and call-backs I could catch better the second time around. One great visual involved a split-screen device that shows Tom's expectations of a reconciliation with Summer on the left and what actually happens on the right. Heartbreaking, but also very funny.

This movie also contains the most sublime moment I've seen on film all year, which occurs as Tom walks through LA after spending the night with Summer. I won't describe it to you, but I was giddy with delight. What happens is not based in reality at all, but the feeling it portrays most definitely is. And the soundtrack is great.

There were other scenes, however, that resonated in a different, slightly painful way. Because I have done some of the things Tom does here. I have been in relationships where I saw every insignificant little thing as further evidence that this guy and I were MFEO. I have been unwilling to recognize red flags. I was unwilling to actually listen to the words this person was saying and to realize that perhaps they did not bode well for our future together. I can laugh about it now, but at the time I was just setting myself up to be heartbroken.

A few days after seeing the movie, GH and I listened to a podcast featuring one of the film's two writers. He talked about how in test screenings, the people who loved this movie the most were men. And how men are, unfortunately, the least likely to be the ones running out to tell their guy friends that they have GOT to check out this new romantic comedy. Except GH did because he's secure (and hot) like that.

It's true, though. He laughed even harder than I did and there were moments during Tom's angst and dejection and misery where GH just nodded his head and said, "Yep." And then I'd lean over and stroke his arm and whisper, "I'm really, really sorry. Remember how I married you in the end, though?"

22 comments:

kip said... [reply]

Me too. Loved it! And as someone with an extremely small forehead who's never been able to pull off bangs, I totally covet Zooey's. Girls with bangs are the coolest.

Janssen said... [reply]

As if I wasn't already just DYIIIIIING to see it. . .

AmandaStretch said... [reply]

Ditto to everything. What a great film!

Amanda said... [reply]

Great movie - loved it too. It was nice to see a relationship a little more realistic than the usual romantic comedy fare.

AmyJane said... [reply]

Ooh, I hadnt even heard of this----cannot wait!

heidikins said... [reply]

I loved this, LOVED it. However, the fact that in every. single. scene Summer is wearing blue started to really get distracting. Sigh. What's wrong with a little green? Or purple? Or even some yellow? I'm sure there is some metaphor behind it, but I didn't see it explained in the credits and I'm not smart enough to come up with it on my own. Except that, clearly, the director roots for BYU....and I will try not to hold that against him.

xox

Katie E. said... [reply]

Okay, it's time for boldness and true confessions and the like. I am a nerdy little book-loving English major singleton living in Provo and lusting after England. I have read about three-quaters of your blog, and oh, do I adore it.

I have been waiting to see (500) Days of Summer since about February or so, and have seen it twice now. It's really just so amazing. I love Zooey and music and post-modernism. It became one of my new favorite films, and it has helped my deal with my bitter spinsterhood by helping me solidify some of my ideas about love. If you feel so inclined, I would love to have your thoughts/comments on my posting on this movie, which can be found at http://katieeyoung.blogspot.com/2009/08/this-is-not-about-love-cause-i-am-not.html

Again, I love your blog. Thank you for making your life available for all to read, and I hope you don't think I'm weird or stalker-ish for saying all these things. Thanks.

P.S. According to the director, the blue thing was really just to make Zooey's eyes pop, but I think it also functioned as a representation of Summer, especially from Tom's pov. Blue was happy, soothing, idyllic, and it represents stormy weather. Just a thought.

Azúcar said... [reply]

It's just so good.


About time the movie is from the boy's perspective and not the girl's.


And the bathrobe? I thought I would cry from laughter.

Azúcar said... [reply]

Summer wasn't just in blue, blue is the primary color of the film.

So yes, Summer's eyes are blue and they're supposed to pop, but it's more than that. Blue permeates the movie like Summer permeates Tom's life. There is no other color because there is no other Summer.

They used filters on the film, the extras, sets, art direction, ALL of it emphasizes blue over all colors. Next time you see it you'll notice all the thoughtful details that make this picture extraordinary, EVERYTHING has a purpose, everything means something else; it's a perfect construction.

Rachie said... [reply]

I really, really, really can't wait to see this movie. I may have to wait til the DVD releases though because I'm in the process of moving to another state and won't have babysitters once I get there. So, there's that. Still... can't wait!

Science Teacher Mommy said... [reply]

Saw the preview last night at the dollar movie. I may have to drag Plantboy to it instead of waiting (as was my intention) for my next night alone after it comes to OnDemand.

And I am SOOOOOOOO cutting my hair like the lovely Zooey's as soon as the kids go back to school and I actually get a chance to have a haircut.

I already wear blue almost every day; and if I had Zooey's eyes, I would never wear anything but.

And now for my movie trivia question that makes me really old. I'm pretty sure that Tom was a child actor from SOMETHING because I can see his face in a much smaller version in my mind. Does anybody know when in the 80's I might have seen this person???

AmandaStretch said... [reply]
This comment has been removed by the author.
Desmama said... [reply]

I've heard good things about this movie, too. I'm anxious to see it. Tonight, however, I'm going to see Julie and Julia, and am hopeful it's as good as I've heard it is. We'll talk about it on Sunday, no?

AmandaStretch said... [reply]

More like 90s - 3rd Rock from the Sun. Now is king of indie movies.

Nemesis said... [reply]

Also he was in 10 Things I Hate About You as the kid who like Julia Stiles' sister Bianca.

mj said... [reply]

How real was that movie? I mean of course there were artistic unrealistic bits for effect and whatever but the core of it was just so stinkin' true. Afterwards my husband and I talked about how many times we had been either person in that relationship. It took me many years to figure out that it is not the oh-so "perfectness" of the other person that really matters (because you will always be wrong about this anyway!) but whether the relationship between the two of you actually works. Hooray for getting it right.

Besides it was also just lots of fun.

And who knew the annoying kid from the show I didn't really like that much in the nineties would turn into such a sympathetic and charming man?

april said... [reply]

SPOILER ALERT
i like this movie a lot too and liked how it left you thinking at the end.

that speech tom made was HYSTERICAL!!! i felt like the writers were totally spoofing other romantic comedies where there has to be a reason to quit or give a speech about. but really the whole speech about not having integrity in greeting cars just cracked me up.

the humor in this film was excellent. i loved the little laughs along the way, but you were also totally drawn into the story emotionally. i'm a sucker for romance, so i was a little nervous the whole time, and i couldn't let go of the couple so easily at the end, but the fact that summer didn't warn him when she invited him to the party sure helped with the he's better without her bit. i certainly enjoyed the punchline at the end when he exchanges names without the other girl.

this film deserves mucho kudos for keeping you happy and loving it at the end even though they don't get together. it was refreshing to have the other side of love/courting/dating stated.

Audra said... [reply]

I am not reading this blog post... yet... I got far enough to know you like it and it seems like a good movie. So after I see it I will read and comment! I do not get out to the movies much and if I do it HAS to be after I close up shop and if no one comes sometimes if I have my ducks in a row I can leave at 10 and catch a 10:15 showing if I hit the street lights right... so... maybe I hope to find the time to see this :)

Lady Steed said... [reply]

He also played Roger in Angels in the Outfield, 1994

Science Teacher Mommy said... [reply]

Lady Steed! THANKS. That was it. Never watched 3rd Rock from the Sun and don't really see Indie movies.

Nells-Bells said... [reply]

i too loved it...so did my hubby. but i have to admit...while watching it, i thought of you and GH and all that happened. there were some definite parallels.

but seriously, i really loved the set-up and that the movie had every good thing in it. highly recommending this to friends!!

Monica said... [reply]

I know this is a super-old post, but I just saw a link to it and wanted to comment! I love this movie and wish it had been made 20 years ago, because I was just like Tom (down to the Smiths obsession) and maybe it would have knocked some sense into me at a younger age. I wish I had had his little sister to tell me, "Just because (he) likes the same bizarro crap you do doesn't make (him) your soulmate." :)

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