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5 reviews, 16 user ratings

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(500) Days of Summer
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by Erik Childress

"Annie Hall For The 21st Century"
5 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2009 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL: When The Break-Up patented itself as the ďanti-romantic comedyĒ, I donít think it meant to go so far as to not be funny or true to its own premise. Sure, it delivered on a break-up but missed out on the kind of realities that it purported to be all about in a yearly pool of cutesy cliches and reconciliations. The numbers likely donít exist in any conventional survey about relationships, but I think itís a safe bet to say that there have been more fractured ones out there versus those who have found the one they call their soul mate. Weíre told right from the get-go (led off by one of the funniest pre-title scrawls youíll ever see) that this is not a film destined for happy endings. At the same time this is not a film designed to put you into some neo-realist funk on the way out of the theater. It is for certain a comedy through and through with romantic aspirations and probably the closest this generation has come to having their own Annie Hall.

Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a guy who has believed since childhood in ideas like fate and love. What a perfect employee for a greeting card company, even if his first love is architecture. Summer (Zooey Deschanel) is the bossí new assistant in the office. For years sheís been inspiring joyful goo-goo eyes to all that comes in contact with her and dashing most of their hope with her own lack of faith in the long-term fantasy of love. We see the two of them together in Day 290 of their courtship and from the looks of things, day 291 is in jeopardy. Weíre getting ahead of ourselves though. Letís get back to the days when Tom was trying to get Summer to notice him Ė before he was crushing plates or getting advice from his adolescent sister (Chloe Moretz) on how to forget her.

Those were the good Ďol days, the awkward salad days when Tom didnít know how to tell Summer that he liked her and the surprise when that first kiss finally takes things to the next level. But what level is Tom expecting? Summerís attitude on keeping things casual and not serious leads Tomís friend and co-worker, MacKenzie (Geoffrey Arend) to label her a ďdude,Ē as she spouts the kind of commitment-phobic rhetoric that guys tend to wear on their sleeve. Tom isnít just another guy though. Heís a true hopeful romantic that would rather put a definitive label on their relationship than simply lie back and enjoy all the days spent together and nights experimenting with shower maneuevers from pornos. Where did things go wrong for them? Will he be able to get her back by the 500th day?

The structure of the film always lets us know precisely where we are on the calendar if not exactly what has led to Tomís mood on that particular day. By the look on his face we can certainly guess which section of the relationship weíre on but itís the little subtleties that we may have missed along the way that could have foreshadowed doom. Screenwriters Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber are genuinely interested in these charactersí feelings and the tough choice involved in giving into those emotions. No pre-rehearsed Bachelor(ette) confessions. When Tomís hope is reinvigorated for a time Ė after likely finally finding peace Ė thereís a ultra-clever use of split-screen representing his expectations versus his reality. This sequence alone will be worth a second viewing just to notice the timing of the delicate differences amidst the two, but should hit anyone over the age of ten with a harsh flashback (or two) of their own courtships.

After headlining little seen gems like Brick and The Lookout, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is going to bec receiving a lot of love after this comes out and deservingly so. No longer just the kid from TVís 3rd Rock From The Sun, he has really developed into one strong chameleonic actor. Even within the crime genre he has found roles that have turned him from a modern-day Raymond Chandler detective (in high school) to a mentally-crippled pawn in a bank robbery to a wild man criminal in the unfairly shelved Killshot. There are three films to check out in company of (500) Days just to witness the range we wish we could see more of in theaters. Itís also great to see Zooey Deschanel return to the world of doomed relationships. After a bad year that saw her waste her charm in Yes Man and practically suffocated in M. Night Shyamalanís The Happening, Zooey has come full circle from the whirlpool of heartbreak she delivered in David Gordon Greenís All the Real Girls (hint, hint, rent) and fulfilled some destiny as the heartbreaker every guy would hope to hold a hand with. Even if it was pulled away.

Again, donít be scared, (500) Days of Summer is a comedy and occasionally a gut-busting one that has the potential to shoot a rib directly into your heart. Those in the middle of a break-up or failing relationship may look upon this film as their Bible. Despite a forewarned male perspective, itís honest and identifiable to both sexes. Webb provides the film with an anytime quality thatís going to transcend generations and likely to be referenced as a counterpoint to the next ten bad romantic comedies that come along. And the ten after that. I can only build up your expectations so far until you discover what may be the actual reality for any number of young couples where true love strikes one while the other feels the doubt of being able to convince their self of the same. And when all else fails, weíll always have Hall & Oates to remind us of the good times. Like seeing this film.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=18196&reviewer=198
originally posted: 07/15/09 00:00:00
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 Sundance Film Festival For more in the 2009 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 South By Southwest Film Festival For more in the 2009 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 CineVegas Film Festival For more in the 2009 CineVegas Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 RiverRun International Film Festival For more in the 2009 RiverRun International Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: Independent Film Festival of Boston 2009 For more in the Independent Film Festival Boston 2009 series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 Philadelphia Film Festival For more in the 2009 Philadelphia Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 Florida Film Festival For more in the 2009 Florida Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 Seattle International Film Festival For more in the 2009 Seattle International Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

11/04/15 David Hollingsworth Clever and refreshing. 5 stars
3/09/11 art CHLOE MORETZ moved on to BIGGER and better thing's[KICK ASS,LET ME IN}. 1 stars
9/12/10 Simon Really innovative take on it's-been-done love stories. Contrived but contrived appealingly 4 stars
6/11/10 MP Bartley Not as clever as it thinks it is, but clever nonetheless. 4 stars
5/06/10 Ionicera Somewhat clever and likeable but not very deep 4 stars
3/02/10 Stanley Thai A unique romantic comedy told in an ingenious and creative way. 5 stars
2/27/10 Brian Mckay Funny and creative "Boy meets/loses girl" story. Levitt and Deschanel are great together. 4 stars
12/13/09 Flounder Extremely original screenplay and fantastic performances around. Deserves an Oscar nom 5 stars
12/04/09 matt It was good, but I probably wouldn't watch it again 4 stars
11/27/09 -Loved Nice. perfectly enjoyable, plus I loved Zooey no end 4 stars
9/25/09 Akemi Gardiner The movie had a very realistic take on relationships. Loved it! 5 stars
9/11/09 BTC It deserves the hype, and should win an oscar for best original screenplay! 5 stars
8/30/09 Omar I'm not a big fan of romantic films, but this is excellent. 5 stars
7/23/09 sleestakk was expecting something more conventional; was pleased it was rather not. nice review! 5 stars
7/17/09 Rio It had the potential to be Another Stupid Hipster Movie, but it wasn't. Beauty. 5 stars
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  17-Jul-2009 (PG-13)
  DVD: 22-Dec-2009


  DVD: 22-Dec-2009

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