(500) Days of Summer

(500) Days of Summer

Cute if sometimes overly precious romantic comedy about Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a young writer at a greeting card company, who falls madly in love with his new coworker Summer (Zooey Deschanel), an inscrutable loner who doesn't want to get serious. The 500 days of the title indicates the length of their turbulent relationship, and the script (by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber) jumps around in a gleefully nonlinear fashion, juxtaposing Tom and Summer's sweet early days with the sour times to come.

There's a lot to like about (500) Days of Summer: I'm an admirer of Gordon-Levitt's film work, and while he's not as interesting here as he was in Brick, The Lookout, and Mysterious Skin, he's undeniably charming. And I appreciate the filmmakers' sincerity in doing with Los Angeles what east coast filmmakers routinely do with New York: turn it into a beautiful, functional city conducive to romance. By setting the entire film in downtown LA, they effectively turn their Angeleno characters into Manhattanites: hip urban dwellers who don't have cars and who spend their entire lives downtown (which, as anybody who lives in Los Angeles can tell you, is pure fantasy).

But the movie fizzles with some of its other many quirky ideas, such as a Pushing Daisies-like narration, giving Tom a world-weary kid sister who drily dispenses advice, and a few too many other cinematic fun-and-games. An already cherished dance sequence after Tom and Summer first make love is a highlight, but other moments, such as a sequence of black and white "interviews" with the male characters, feel forced.

I think (500) Days actually depends on these eccentricities, because without them it would be a fairly routine story about the frustratingly one-sided relationships that most of us have found ourselves in at some point. Which isn't exactly a bad thing. There's a lot of truth about love and human behavior in this film, something lacking in most studio romantic comedies. But without giving away the ending, the film's message, though honest, is also rather obvious to anybody over 25 who's tried to get serious with somebody who just wasn't that into them. I've certainly had my share of Summers, though my wife has reminded me that I've probably been Summer to some of my exes as well. Almost all of us have, which may be the film's point.

All in all, I thought the movie was fun. I just think it could have said so much more, without losing its goofy sweetness. But thousands of young people will fall madly in love with this movie and it will surely develop an Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind-like following. That's fine. I can see the appeal - especially if one is already crushing on Deschanel and/or Gordon-Levitt. Don't let me stand in your way. I'm just saying that, for me, (500) Days is not that special.