Review: almost perfect – ’500 Days of Summer’

August 30th, 2009 at 11:16 pm by under Entertainment

“500 Days of Summer” is a great romantic comedy, almost perfect.

Its a movie that isn’t told in chronological order, but unlike some that use this tactic and fail, “500 Days of Summer” is easy to follow where we are in the timeline of the couple’s relationship…. and as the narrator points out early, while it is a boy-meets-girl movie… it is not a love story.

This movie was almost a 10.0… it was sooo close… but in the end… one scene destroyed the chance of me handing out my first 10.0 since starting this blog…. it was so very close… I really wish I could have given out the 10…
"500 Days of Summer" poster courtesy Fox Searchlight  

(My spoiler-free review)

This may come as a surprise to some of you, but I like great movies… movies with a good story, good writing, well developed characters, good acting, good cinematography, good editing, good production value, good soundtrack, good special effects/makeup (when applicable), etc.  And my list of great movies can be as varied as great Horror, great Western, great Action/Adventure, great Science Fiction, great Drama, great Comedy…. and yes, great Romantic Comedies.

On the surface, “500 Days of Summer” may seem like your average rom-com (romantic comedy)… which are often relabeled by some as a “chick flick”.    This is not an average rom-com and is most certainly not a “chick flick”… its a great piece of storytelling.

While the movie jumps around in the timeline of the life and times of Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Summer (Zooey Deschanel), it has an order that makes sense and is easy to follow.  “500 Days of Summer” is injected with brilliant little moments of humor, pop culture references to Bruce Springsteen, the Beatles, Knight Rider, Han Solo, and more.     But the overwhelming success is the true realistic take on the ups and downs… the joys and heartaches… the euphoria and pain… of love.  Its about what love does to people… good and bad… to ourselves and to our friends and family.  Its something we can all relate to in some way.

From the palpable devastation of rejection to the incredible high of love (complete with its own musical number)… the audience is pulled right in to what the characters are feeling, not as if they are watching a movie… but as if they are in the room with the characters.

“500 Days of Summer” is a journey movie, not a road trip, but an emotional journey from one point of feeling and understanding to another…. one of my favorite lines is when Summer pokes fun at Tom that he believes in love, to which he replies: “Its love, not Santa Claus”.

The acting is great, Gordon-Levitt breaks out of his previous roles (“3rd Rock from the Sun”, “Angels in the Outfield”, “G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra”) to show he can really pull it off and Deschanel shines, continuing her previous solid performances (including “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”, “Elf”, “Yes Man”, and the tv mini-series “Tin Man”).   The supporting cast does a good job, but there are few scenes without Gordon-Levitt  or Deschanel who overshadow everyone else.

The script is great, very polished – the movie flows like a good book.  The production values are very good: camera angles, light and focus, the use of lines to show distance, frame characters, etc.  The use of color palettes for moods and jumps in timeline is well done.   The cinematography and editing are great.   It has a cool soundtrack.  Plus, the director has some little clever tricks and gimmics that are used wisely for moving from one scene to another.

BOTTOM LINE:  (possible spoiler here, but I gave the movie a 9.5, my explanation could be a minor spoiler)

“500 Days of Summer” deserves Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Actor, Actress, Best Screenplay, Best Music, etc.   And as this movie neared its obvious conclusion I thought I was going to be handing out my first 10.0… but the last scene ruined it… THE LAST SCENE in the movie dropped “500 Days of Summer” one level from a new classic to a really great movie.   Its sounds like a minor difference, but it is… afterall, in my rating system, a 10.0 has to be perfect… no problems, no issues.  My issue: the ending was a little too “Hollywood happy ending” a “put a bow on it and smile ending” for my taste… its seems like it may have been rewritten or re-shot, because I think a minor change could make it a better ending, an ending that fits with the style of the rest of the movie. For that reason I have to give it 9.5 out of 10 … the closest to 10.0 yet.

"500 Days of Summer" photo courtesy Fox Searchlight ”500 Days of Summer”

(2009) (rated: PG-13 for sexual material and language)
(1 hr, 35 min)

Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Zooey Deschanel, Geoffrey Arend, Chloe Moretz, Matthew Gray Gubler, Clark Gregg, Patricia Belcher, Rachel Boston

Director: Marc Webb

Genre: Romantic/Comedy/Drama

The Plot: An offbeat romantic comedy about a woman (Deschanel) who doesn’t believe true love exists, and the young man (Gordon-Levitt) who falls for her.


So what did you think?  Please post a comment!



“500 Days of Summer” poster courtesy Fox Searchlight



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5 Responses to “Review: almost perfect – ’500 Days of Summer’”

  1. Bill says:

    Have I been in the “business” too long when I start to agree with people who review movies?

  2. No, it just means we think alike… and you enjoy good movies!!!

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  4. Shannon says:

    I don’t understand why the ending is perceived as terrible. Tom had to be like 28…are we really to believe that the only appropriate ending for him would be to die alone? He’s young, handsome, and in Los Angeles. Of course he’s going to meet someone else and move on because that’s life. The question isn’t whether he will meet another beautiful woman (duh, of course he will), it’s whether he’s learned as much from his “Summer experience” as the audience hopes he has. Will “Autumn” be any different from Summer? Has he gained any perspective? Does anyone ever gain perspective? Or is it just meeting the person who shares would could be classified as a mutual romantic delusion?

    The ending was perfect.

  5. Shannon – the more I watch this movie (at least 5 times since I wrote this) the more I’m coming around to the ending… if they hadn’t named her “Autumn”… I would be okay… and we assume he has learned from his experience with “Summer” because she learned from him.

    thanks for the thoughts!
    :) – Aaron

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