About Me

My photo
Pop culture junkie, native of Las Vegas, not really a writer.
You can stalk me on Twitter here:

Friday, August 14, 2009

(500) Days of Summer - My Review

I was eagerly anticipating (500) Days of Summer for months before its limited release and then I had to wait even longer for it to finally come to Las Vegas. Not everyone is a Zooey Deschanel fan (there’s odd backlash against her and her indie-hipster-quirky self) but I love her and Joseph Gordon-Levitt is quickly proving himself to be one of the better actors of his generation with incredible turns in films like Mysterious Skin and Brick. Between Zooey’s side life in the music industry (most notably her band She & Him with fellow indie darling M. Ward) and Joseph’s wonderful little collective website hitRECord.org they are definitely two people to watch and admire.

So anyway (500) Days of Summer: I really enjoyed it. The idea of the film is to show the arc of a relationship that spans 500 days by jumping back and forth in time. The scenes are like vignettes from different days in the relationship and every time it switches there is a title page that announces the day: (500), (488), (1), (316), (28) etc. It works kind of like a flip chart and it’s a fun concept, utilized in a way that shows the highs and lows of a relationship in a completely relatable way. Don’t we all remember our long term relationships in flashes of good days and bad days? And don’t all our memories have a difficult time sticking to chronological order?

The two leads are wonderful together and their acting is assured and honest, not flashy or over-precious. At first I was disappointed in the way that Summer (Deschanel) seemed to be underwritten as a character. But upon further reflection from myself and others I realize that the character was meant to be written that way: mysterious, unknowable, uncatchable. Tom (Gordon-Levitt) is instantly enthralled by her and is soon convinced she is the ONE for him. The majority of the film is spent revealing to him and the audience that just because someone may be the ONE for you, doesn’t mean you will be the ONE for them.

The film has some really great fantastical moments. After Tom and Summer’s first night together, Tom’s walk to work evolves into an incredibly happy-go-lucky dance number as if he’s stepped into an MGM musical, when he is particularly down about their relationship he sees himself as the protagonist in a Fellini style film, when he attends a party at Summer’s house the film goes into a split screen showing the events unfold on one side in reality, and on the other side as Tom WISHES it would. All these were fun touches that gave visual interest to the film and seemed true to the characters, not distracting.

Of course there is much hype about the music in the film: The Smiths, Belle & Sebastian, Regina Spektor, Feist, Simon & Garfunkel, Hall & Oates. Too twee? Too hipster? Too much? Maybe. But for the most part the soundtrack worked and again, it seemed true to the story and wasn’t distracting. I especially loved the drunken karaoke scene and am tempted to buy the deluxe version of the soundtrack (available on iTunes) just to get Zooey Deschanel’s adorable rendition of "Sugar Town" by Nancy Sinatra and Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s earnest "Here Comes Your Man" by The Pixies.

The one serious complaint I have about the film is the narration by, of all people, Leslie Nielson. It was really unnecessary (as most narration in film is) and just seemed an excuse for the writers to expound upon witty, wistful ideas about love and relationships in a wry, flat narrator voice. It was unnecessary because the film itself was already expounding on those ideas quite articulately and beautifully.

There were a few other little things that I could complain about, little cliché-y things, but I’m going to refrain, because they’re minor and don’t detract from the film enough to ruin my overall enjoyment of it.

Go see (500) Days of Summer and give yourself over to the bitter, the sweet, and the everything in between.

***On Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s website hitRECord.org, he’s posted the following video and here is what he had to say about it:

"Zooey's absence from the dance number in (500) Days of Summer was a tragic injustice. Here we have a remedy.

We shot (500) Days of Summer a little over a year ago. And even then, we kinda knew we had to do this. We talked about it back then, Marc and Zooey and I did. I mean, it really felt a bit wrong -- Zooey's born for musical numbers, and the one day she wasn't on set, we go and shoot a musical number? The wrong had to be righted. So when it came time to start promoting the movie, we had the idea to kill two birds with one stone.

Now I'll be honest; promotion, publicity, etc etc etc -- not usually my favorite part of the job. But this is different. This is creative. It's a work of art in its own right. And to me, it seems like so much more effective an endorsement of the movie than any interview or fashion shoot. Wouldn't you say? I wish all movie promotion could be like this: new, free bite-sized creations by the same people who made the movie. Plus it was about as purely fun a day on a set as I've ever had. Hope you like it!"


  1. I can't allow myself to read this, at least not till I go see it tomorrow.

  2. I wish I could've liked it more but I think the hipster irony was too much for me ("there are only two types of people in this world. boys. and girls."). Blech, haha. I loved the soundtrack though and it was really beautiful to watch. I guess I'm one of those people that doesn't care too much for Zooey, just cause she doesn't really add too much to the movies she's in (she's comfortable with taking a backseat to the male leads, sitting pretty). I agree with you, her part was terribly underwritten, but I'm not willing to give the writer credit for doing it on purpose. Also the set decoration for her apartment made me want to vomit, and his apartment too for that matter (way to appropriate surrealist painting for your coffee table). Far too hip to be likable or real. It's too bad because I really wanted to like that movie. I just wasn't finding it as funny or charming as everyone else (people really got a kick out of laughing at the Asian family in the 'kitchen', WTF). I didn't hate it, don't get me wrong, I just wasn't blown away, and I'm not adding it to my faves. As for indie rom-com stories, I'm sticking with Eternal Sunshine.

  3. I feel you Emily. Again, I HATED the narration, but I'm just such a sucker for charming, winning actors and for me Zooey and Joseph are both charming and winning.


Comments are always welcome! Thank you!