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Movie Review of 500 Days of Summer

(500) Days of Summer: A Fantastical Unromance For Realists

The unnecessary parentheses in the movie's title are the first sign that (500) Days of Summer might be too cute and contrived for its own good. Often, it is: the female lead (played by Zooey Deschanel) is named Summer, the wardrobes and apartments are impossibly hip, and shopping at Ikea acts as a relationship milestone. I'm willing to forgive much of that, however, because despite its overly indie constructs, (500) Days of Summer captures many achingly real sentiments. Like the relationship it chronicles, the movie is full of ups and downs but ultimately worthwhile.

The basic conceit is cool: from the beginning, we know the relationship between Summer and Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) ends. We find out how it starts and what goes wrong through glimpses at unordered days, from an office karaoke party to a snippy exchange at a record store.

(500) Days of Summer feels like the work of a newbie director (which it is) who is excited to use all of his brainstorms right away. The movie features random fantasy sequences, French film homages, dueling outcomes told via split screen, and even a dance number, which I'll admit is pretty funny. But the net effect is heavy-handed: I mean, the couple debates the possibility of true love while working at a greeting card company.


Thankfully, the moments of fantasy and sappiness are balanced by large doses of reality and cynicism. The script perfectly captures the bliss and awkward formality of a budding relationship but also the post-breakup realization that it might not be you, or him, but actually the two of you together that simply doesn't work. As Tom's unnaturally wise tween sister points out, just because Summer likes the same "bizarro crap" as him doesn't make them soulmates.

Upping the authenticity are the performances but especially that of Gordon-Levitt, who is lovable like a modern, more ambitious Lloyd Dobler. He and Deschanel are so natural together, it's a shame the overly precious script can't relax a little too.

Photos courtesy Fox Searchlight

Join The Conversation
totygoliguez totygoliguez 7 years
can't wait to see this movie, I heard great reviews.
leslievanhouten leslievanhouten 7 years
"Annie Hall was much smarter and professional." Yup, but Annie Hall is an amazing film when Woody Allen was at the top of his game. 500 Days is like it younger brother. There were moments that annoyed me (the cliched wiser younger sister), but some of the tricks were really effective, like the Hall & Oates thing and the expectations/reality scene. But what completely saves the movie is JGL.
Nitachequita Nitachequita 7 years
Once again spot-on review by Buzz. The movie was just all over the place in the beginning, with the Director trying different "cutesy" effects as mentioned by Buzz. thank goodness the last half hour calmed down and saved the movie.
lizlee89 lizlee89 7 years
leslievanhoute, I think the director was trying to do Annie Hall, but it came off really amateurish and convoluted version. Annie Hall was much smarter and professional. I liked this movie, but I did have a little trouble sitting through it - it has so much going on! I really love JGL; he was so cute in this and the role really showed off his talent and range (dare I say a young Johnny Depp?). I also liked all of the characters and the story; however the massive amount of different techniques (I mean, seriously, it has a non-linear plot, narration, fantasy sequences, parody, animation, and more) made the whole movie seem kind of stupid. don't get me wrong, some of those techniques were really good - the non-linear plot, the fantasy sequence, and the parody - but all together it made for an annoyingly cheesy overload of cuteness. as a whole it's not a good movie, but if you disect it there are numerous moments of brilliance...
fashion4ward fashion4ward 7 years
I'm so beyond excited to see this, as soon as it coes to my town, that is!
Classy-Amelia Classy-Amelia 7 years
I have been waiting for this movie since I heard JGL and Zooey would be working together again. I love JGL and Zooey. They are my two favorite people in the world. I really cannot wait until I get to see this movie.
leslievanhouten leslievanhouten 7 years
I just saw this and i LOVED it!! It was a lot like Annie Hall
californiagirlx7 californiagirlx7 7 years
Oh I really wanna see this movie! It looks sooo adorable and I adore JGL and Zooey.
leeluvfashion leeluvfashion 7 years
One of the handful of films I am excited to see this year. I am a fan of Joseph and Zooey and to have them together in such a cute yet interesting film is wonderful.
leslievanhouten leslievanhouten 7 years
Good taste is not enough to sustain a relationship. I learned that the hard way years and years ago. This movie has all the elements I hate- twee, precious script, overly indie soundtrack and manic pixie dream girl. BUT, I cannot wait to see this movie. And it is all because of Joe. If Zach Braff or someone like him was in this movie, I wouldn't waste a minute.
tini17 tini17 7 years
I'm a huge fan of JGL as well (I can't have a crush on him, though, because he looks EXACTLY like my older brother... aaannd now I feel nauseous just thinking about it). I'm not sure if I'll see this movie or not. I don't like going to movies that depress me. My life is reality enough, you know? I'd rather have the happy ending in my films, especially when it's done in a pseudo-indie way (i.e. "Dan in Real Life").
Beauty Beauty 7 years
I LOVE love love JGL. He's immensely talented, and I fear this film will make me crush out on him even more. Can't wait for this one. I'm glad that the film addresses the tendency for many people (myself included, in the past) to assume that because you love the same bands/books/media, you're SOULMATES. It's a nice entry point, but loving New Order doesn't mean you'll be together forever. Now, if we're talking about the Clash, that's another story... ;)
superstar2780 superstar2780 7 years
LOVE jgl, can't wait to see this!
deeann deeann 7 years
i'm so excited to watch it. joseph gordon-levitt is so cute
JLMac JLMac 7 years
Can't wait to see this one!
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