(500) Days of Summer Review

Jul 16, 2009 | 4:30pm EDT

5666886.jpgWHAT IT’S ABOUT?

Tom is a hip twentysomething greeting-card writer whose dreary cubicle-dwelling existence is unalterably changed with the arrival of Summer his boss’s perky new assistant. Immediately intrigued by the bright-eyed Midwestern transplant lovelorn Tom is easy prey for Summer’s beguiling combination of beauty wit and approachability and soon finds himself wholly smitten. The feeling at least a portion of it is mutual and when sparks fly between them at an office karaoke party the two begin dating — much to Tom’s delight. Beyond the physical attraction he and Summer share a surprising amount of things in common and would appear to be a perfect match save for one crucial detail: Tom is an inveterate romantic who clings stubbornly to the notion of two people joined by destiny while Summer coldly eschews such old-fashioned notions of love and romance. Thus the stage is set for a battle of dueling philosophies played out over the course of their topsy-turvy 18-month relationship.


Joseph Gordon-Levitt (G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra  The Lookout) happily returns to his comedic roots in the role of the cynical yet sensitive hipster Tom while the always adorable Zooey Deschanel (Elf Yes Man) sparkles as his mystifying paramour. (500) Days of Summer background players include Geoffrey Arend (TV’s Trust Me)  Matthew Gray Gubler (TV’s Criminal Minds) Clark Gregg (Iron Man Choke) and Chloe Moretz who is particularly enjoyable as Tom’s unusually wise kid sister/quasi-therapist Rachel.

5393231.jpgWHAT’S GOOD?

Smart witty and quirky but never in a pretentious or self-satisfied way (500) Days of Summer is simply a well-crafted romantic comedy lent added resonance by strong performances on the part of its two lead actors Deschanel and Gordon-Levitt. The only potentially gimmicky aspects of the film are its non-linear structure which bounces around to different key dates in the couples’ 500-day relationship and the wry commentary provided by the comically hubristic narrator. I found neither to be especially irksome.


The only time when (500) Days of Summer veers toward cliche is when Tom interacts with his pals McKenzie and Paul who too often resemble the quintessential buffoonish sidekicks we’ve seen dispense bad advice in so many romantic comedies before.


After his first night spent with Summer Tom wakes up ebullient and celebrates with a triumphant elaborately-choreographed dance routine to the tune of Hall & Oates’ “You Make My Dreams.” He’s soon joined by a chorus of passers-by a marching band and even some Disney-fied animated birds. Few times have the joys of a newly-consummated relationship been so expertly — and hilariously — portrayed.


If you’re sick of the standard bombastic summer fare (500) Days of Summer is the perfect antidote.

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