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TBTS Reviews: (500) Days of Summer

July 25, 2009

THIS REVIEW DOES NOT REVEAL ANY MAJOR SPOILERS.

Lost amidst the buzz generated by the serious cash flow brought in by Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and the fact that Universal has decided to show us Funny People for free – one revealing 30-second spot at a time – is a movie that is slowly gaining momentum.

On paper, (500) Days of Summer could have been and, by all accounts, should have been rough. It is director Marc Webb’s first film and the writing team of Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber has only The Pink Panther 2 to its credit. Do not let that deter you from seeing this film. It is humorous, unique and imaginative.

Are you in love? Are you looking for love? Do you even believe in love? In 95 minutes, this film runs the gambit and, no matter where you are on your emotional quest, at some point you will find a character and a mind-set to which you can identify.

In the opening scene we are introduced to Tom Hansen and Summer Finn, but the story is not told chronologically. It springs back and forth from their good times and their rocky times. Each scene begins with a number (1-500) to help the viewer keep his/her bearings as they watch the magic and the mayhem unfold between Tom and Summer in what seems to be a very real relationship.

That relationship feels real thanks in great part to the likeability of Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Tom) and Zooey Deschanel (Summer).

Gordon-Levitt makes the most of his first shot as a romantic leading man. In this love story about unrequited love, Gordon-Levitt refuses to make Tom a push-over thus endearing him to every male in the theater who never stood up to the unhinged female in their own past. Deschanel is fantastic as Summer, who exudes unattainable sexiness while remaining a very achievable goal for Tom. The script calls for a heartbreaker. Deschanel accomplishes this while still keeping the character heartwarming.

Gordon-Levitt and Deschanel also help the film pull off something that, in my household, is nothing short of a miracle. This movie is one that both men and women can enjoy equally. That agreement is not easily found and takes a solid film to carry out.

The soundtrack to which Tom and Summer’s relationship is set must also be commended. Music by The Smiths, The Pixies and Regina Spektor (among others) are not just worked into the background; they are a part of the storyline… giving an already enjoyable film a trace of hip.

(500) Days of Summer is a completely original take on the romantic-comedy. So much so, in fact, that I feel strange even placing it in that category. It is laugh-out-loud funny and also, to a certain point, heart wrenching. It doesn’t insult the movie-goer. It recognizes that relationships are rarely sunshine and rainbows followed by one huge conflict to overcome before the couple lives happily ever after, which is what Hollywood has been telling us for years.

It is a feel-good movie about how love sometimes makes you feel, well, not-so-good.

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