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(500) Days of Summer
Genre Romance
Year: 2009
 
Review:

(500) Days of Summer, surprisingly... is not about surfing. Unless of course you equate the game of love with the ocean, in which case there are plenty of fish in the sea and you've got to catch the ultimate wave, because only a surfer knows the feeling. Whether that feeling's the euphoria and sense of oneness afloat one of nature's most powerful elements or being unashamedly dumped like yesterday's newspaper, it all feeds back to one love.

Now before you get too far ahead of yourself, (500) Days of Summer is nothing like that bubblegum romance, Blue Crush. No surfers were harmed in the making of this film, and while there is a reference to "guppies"... this movie is not about the sea or a day of the week, it's about a season between a boy and a girl.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Uncertainty) is Tom Hansen, no relation to the "Mmmbop" brothers, a pretty ordinary guy in love with Summer an extraordinary girl, played by the enchanting Zooey Deschanel (Yes Man). He works for a greeting card company, although he'd prefer to be an architect. When he eyes the prize... in this case, Summer, with her dark hair and blue eyes - there's very little for him to do other than become obsessed with her.

Don't worry, it's not like he went out and bought night vision goggles, he just got a little lost in her eyes. Traditional romantic comedies would have the hero joust for his damsel, okay maybe not that far back... in (500) Days of Summer, our protagonist must overcome even greater odds than death... the "I only want to be friends".

The movie has a fresh sensibility about it... probably because it has been edited as a visual diary, flipping back and forth in time between Day 1 and Day 500. It keeps us on our toes as we uncover the relationship's makes and breaks as a series of Tom's memories flood into our stream of consciousness.

The concept works remarkably well as the two likable up-and-coming stars weave an intriguing web of love's triumphs and heartaches. It's a cool, upbeat journey that never stumps the audience with a bipolar range of happy or sad emotions. This complexity gives it a touch of reality, one which carves a genuine love story out of the Hollywood "romcom" log.

People that enjoyed Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Uncertainty, a Sliding Doors type romance/thriller(?), will detect a similar dynamic in (500) Days of Summer. The high concept, editing, elements of romance and Gordon-Levitt's presence resonate... yet (500) Days of Summer is well-rounded and isn't as much of a genre-bender. Deschanel is the new generation's Drew Barrymore, a near-eccentric girl from next door, who has an understated charm. Together, their chemistry works just fine and their performances complement one another.

(500) Days of Summer won't be the best romantic comedy you've ever seen, but isn't as predictable, staged and superfluous as some of the "romcom" genre entries of late. Marc Webb, a relatively inexperienced director, does a fine job giving a fluidity to the story, while Pink Panther 2 writers Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber redeem themselves. The diary concept, fun tempo, solid performances and fresh angle on the now tatty heart-shaped box of chocolates and drooping bouquet (thanks Freddie Prinze Jr.) make (500) Days of Summer worth watching.

The bottom line: Fresh.

 

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