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Starring: Joseph Gordon Levitt, Zooey Deschanel
Written by: Scott Neustadter/Michael H. Weber
Directed by: Marc Webb

A quirky indie love story that DOESN'T suck. I know, I was shocked too.

After getting burned with the absolute trainwrecks that were Garden State and Juno, I was a little hesitant on (500) Days of Summer. Sure, I dug the trailer, and I think Joseph Gordon Levitt is a hell of a good actor, but it seemed to be one of those hipster wannabe independent films that would make me roll my eyes with stupid dialogue and quirky for the sake of being quirky moments. Thankfully, this wasn’t the case and I found myself enjoying (500) Days of Summer far more than I thought I would. Was it a good movie? Yes. Is it the amazing masterpiece people say? Well…not really.

Levitt stars as Tom Hensen, a guy who works at a greeting card company raised on the pop culture’s representation of what love is. He is constantly searching for his next love, and one day, he meets Summer Finn, played by Zooey Deschanel (more on her later), who is his boss’s assistant. From there, Tom and Summer date and they go through all the ups and downs of relationships and love, but as you know from the trailer, it does not end in happily ever after for them.

The story is told in a fragmented way, going from different days to show the contrast between their relationship in the future and their relationship in the past. You watch Tom and Summer fall for each other, then see them slowly break apart. I thought it would make for a hokey premise, but it actually gels together well and it’s easy to follow. I didn’t find myself looking at my watch or rolling my eyes as much as I normally do; I was entranced in the story.

Levitt does a good job, and shows why he should be regarded as one of the best actors today. Coming off the heels of seeing GI Joe over the weekend and Brick being one of my favorite movies ever, I am experiencing Levitt Mania. He does an amazing job portraying a guy who believes so hard in the idea of love, and has to deal with the consequences of such blind hope. He’s funny, he’s charming, and you really feel for him through the bad moments.

Zooey Deschanel…I do not like her. There indie film nerds, I said it. I find her acting one note and her presence causes me to be bored. Her character of Summer is in typical Deschanel range. Moody, quirky…yadda yadda. I don’t know if the director Marc Webb wanted us to hate her, but I really wanted to punch her in the face. Maybe I’m just not 15 anymore, but I don’t find quirky interests and goofy tastes in music to be a turn on, it’s more of an annoyance, like they are trying too hard. I’m pretty sure she’ll get nominated for something though, so once again, my fingers are not on the pulse of American indie quirky losers.

My personal favorite performance is Geoffrey Arend, who plays Tom’s co-worker and best friend (isn’t that how it usually works in movies?) McKenzie. Arend has been seen in movies like Super Troopers and An American Carol, in bit parts, generally the annoying comic relief. Here, he is still the comic relief, but he finally ditches the annoying and proves he does not suck at acting. It was like watching someone finally understand their craft, and I was happy to see that. Arend has earned brownie points in my book, which is worth like infinity in Hollywood (hyperbole notwithstanding).

The film is good, don’t get me wrong. I love the fact it isn’t a love story, and there’s scenes that are absolutely amazing (Hall and Oates deserves whatever boost in sales they get, as well as all the quirky high school kids who will karaoke the song). It isn’t the best movie of the year though, not by far. I’d see it again sure, but it’s not something that will stick with me. At least, maybe not now, who knows what the future holds. I guess when you get down to it…I think that just shows how bitter I have become against anything romantic and even realistic. How sad.

Final Verdict:
A-

 


E.R.
03/08/2010 03:00

Had to hike UP 5 blocks to the Kabuki Theater in San Francisco just to see this movie get SOLD OUT, then walk back and drive to the Metreon to catch a 10:30 PM showing of this movie (quite an experience..) Overall, worth the trouble. Not terribly great, but Gordon-Levitt stole the show. To me, it was the little details and side jokes that made it an enjoyable movie. Even now, when I remember the Han Solo reflection bit I crack a smile...

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