Directed by Marc Webb
Expectations: Extremely low.
This movie was better than I expected. It wasn’t great, but it had its moments. It’s one of those movies that people like to call “a cute little movie.” It tells the story of Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a greeting card writer, who believes that one day he will meet his soul mate. Enter Summer (Zooey Deschanel). But as the opening narration states, this isn’t a love story. It’s also not really a comedy. It’s more of a drama than the ad campaigns would have you believe.
The films unravels in a non-linear way, which I almost always feel is a clever device used to make a boring story more palatable. In this case it mostly works, but at only 97 minutes, it still feels really long. That is not to say that it’s uninteresting, just that some of the scenes could have been more engaging. The film is also an incredibly mainstream looking movie for an independent film. Tons of over-the-shoulder dialogue shots and close-ups. It’s not without innovation though. There are a few great ideas in the movie that are executed with perfection. Spoiling them would be just rotten of me, so I’ll just say that one of them involves the main character looking into a mirrored surface and seeing a very clever reflection. There’s also a fantastic split-screen scene involving expectations. I’ll leave it at that.
The film’s main character goes through a similar journey to George Clooney’s character in Up in the Air. They both have skewed views on love (for different reasons) and find themselves in over their heads, falling for this new person in their lives. They would make for an interesting double feature pairing because both films aim themselves at different age groups but deal with very similar themes.
(500) Days of Summer is also plagued with tons of pop culture references. I get frustrated with this kind of thing, but after the first 30 minutes or so they weren’t as frequent. The filmmakers were definitely trying to capitalize on the formula and built-in audience of Juno. The formula being: (Indie Movie + Indie Music + Obscure/Semi-Obscure Pop Culture References = Indie Box Office Gold). I don’t mind a well-placed reference but continual references to The Smiths go beyond augmentation and become demographic targeting. This is director Marc Webb’s first film and also the first produced screenplay of Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber. I attribute the uneven nature of the film to this. They’re throwing a handful of things at the wall and hoping most of them stick. Some do, and those that do work well.
Overall, it’s a moderately enjoyable movie that is at times boring, at other times clichéd, and at other times still, clever. I liked it, but you’d never catch me watching it a second time.