Saturday, February 6, 2010

(500) Days of Summer. A-

There's a scene in Marc Webb's delightful '(500) Days of Summer' in which the hero, Tom Hansen (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) walks down the street and suddenly breaks into a dance, prompting the others around him to do the same. Now, this isn't a musical and that scene was completely random. But it suggested total joy and the assurance that everything will be okay. It fit perfectly. The reason that scene worked so well in the film is because this a movie that has no strings to hold it back. It runs freely like a kite, doing whatever it wants. It makes the audience feel the joy of the characters in one scene, and their pain in the next. It's quite simply one of the best romantic comedies in years. The structure of the story is ingenious. It consists of a series of scenes between day 1 and day 500 of Tom's bumpy relationship with his co-worker Summer, played by Zooey Deschanel. The nonlinear structure of the movie keeps the varying emotions of the characters in constant motion. The casting in a movie can be pivotal to it's ultimate success. Here the two leads are the perfect choices. Gordon-Levitt shows he can handle comedy just as well as he can drama (the latter of which he's exemplified in several roles, most notably the the great Scott Frank movie called 'The Lookout') and Deschanel is perhaps an even better choice for playing Summer. But that also brings me to something I did not like: her character. Summer wasn't a very nice person. She seemed self-centered and so we didn't quite care enough when things don't turn out for Tom. This is a pretty funny movie, but it's overall tone is a serious one. The movie takes a real look at love and doesn't make the story go all schmaltzy just so the audience feels good. And what do you know, I actually felt better at the end of this than I do with any other romantic comedies I watch. '(500) Days of Summer' is rated PG-13. Besides some crude dialogue the movie is largely appropriate for all. Still, I think to fully appreciate the film's message you should be on the 'older' side. That is unless you're like Tom's little sister.

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