Movie Review: (500) Days of Summer


(500) Days of Summer (2009)

Rated PG-13: For Language and Various Sensitive Themes

Running Time: 95 minutes (1 hour and 35 minutes)

Genre/s: Comedy, Drama, Romance

Released on August 7, 2009 (US Release Date; Available For Worldwide Viewing)

Presented by Dune Entertainment and Fox Searchlight Pictures

Writer: Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber

Director: Marc Webb

  • Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Tom Hansen
  • Zooey Deschanel as Summer Finn

Most romantic movies nowadays have become more and more cliched by the second, given that almost all of them always relied on the usual "boy meets girl, girl falls for boy, happily ever after" formula. If you are one of the hopeless romantics out there, who just got their hearts broken into a million pieces, then this movie is definitely not for you, unless you are strong of heart. But if you are just an average moviegoer, who yearns for a fresh, new spin on the romantic genre, just like me, then this flick is a must see, but prepare a handful of tissues though, because the film is just sad, really, really sad. Not sad as in it is terrible, but rather, as in, it is brutally honest. I still cannot believe that I actually spent Christmas last year watching this. Welcome back to Dateline Movies, and this is our review of (500) Days of Summer!


What is the movie about?

"This is not a love story. This is a story about love." Such was the tagline of our story.

Enter the world of Tom Hansen, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Looper), a typical greeting card writer with big aspirations, and believes in the concept of true love. Making a grand entrance into his personal life is his office's new secretary, Summer Finn, played by Deschanel (Elf), a beautiful and charming lady and a fan of The Smiths, just like Tom, who does not believe in Tom's perception of affections. But after a chance encounter between the two puts them together, Tom and Summer go on an emotional exploration, in search for the definitive meaning of being truly in love, yet will they remain together, once the truth has been revealed?

What we think of the movie?

Let me first start with the best part about this movie, which is the story. Like I said before, the film takes most of the things that, at this point probably, annoy the heck out of you in other movies of the same genre, and pretty much adds twists here and there, and what we get is anything but ordinary.

What I like most about this movie, despite encountering a minimal amount of cliches, such as the "happy-go-lucky boy", and the "female enigma", is its raw and honest approach to the classic subject that is "love", or in this case, "one-sided love." Normally, you would expect the main couple to get together at the end of it all, and you would usually anticipate that the boy is just an average hopeless romantic, vying for the heart of a woman who is seemingly way out of his league, but instead, the film takes its sweet time to poke fun at those tropes. By ditching those tropes, the film manages to explore the darker and the more tragic aspects of getting a relationship.

From Tom's perspective, we see what it is like to fall hopelessly head over heels for someone who is simply confused, and is not really looking for anything that is completely serious. And from Summer's, we realize that love really does exist, but it is probably not with just any person that you are close to. As their doomed relationship unfolds, through a non-linear narrative style that I highly admire, namely because the method of storytelling did not made the plot confusing, but rather, made it much more mysterious, in a way that a viewer would immediately ask what happened to these two, we then learn that neither of these two are exactly purely good, or purely bad, but basically, they are both incredibly flawed, with Tom just being in love with how he perceives Summer, while Summer not being exactly straight with what she wants, and through their respective flaws, the audience cannot help but relate to their personal struggles in a way.

The movie's dialogue is flavorful, and it adds some much needed color to an already colorful movie. Their lines are quotable, and are incredibly hilarious, and for a romantic movie, you might even be inspired by some of them.

One of the best parts that feature such dialogue include Tom chatting with his best friends McKenzie, played by Geoffrey Arend (Bubble Boy), and Paul, played by Matthew Gray Gubler (Criminal Minds), telling them that he decides not to pursue a potential relationship with Summer, after the latter told him that she had a "good" weekend, to which Tom ignorantly claims that she has had an affair with someone "probably at the gym," as this humorously sums-up a typical hopeless romantic's paranoia, when it comes to initially small crushes.

Another brilliant part is when Tom's boss Vance, played by Clark Gregg (The Avengers), reads Tom's most recent greeting card work, which unfortunately I cannot spell out here, due to censorship reasons, but I do suggest searching the bit with the phrase "Roses are red, violets are blue", because it reflects one's uneasy process of coping with a heartbreak, wherein the experience clouds his vision of better judgment.

But the best part would have to be Tom's speech, when he finally decided to quit his job, out of his inability to overcome his grief, claiming that greeting cards are only manufactured because people are afraid to directly admit what they feel, relating to everyone his current dilemma. This is probably one of the only few romantic movie moments that I watched that actually made me tear-up, because when you think about it, Tom really does have a point. Fun fact, I actually took this advise to heart, and I did something on the Christmas season of last year, with me giving a gift, and let us just leave it at that. At this point, I am not really sure what to feel about my careless decision. I think probably I should just accept the fact that she appreciated the gift, with a gentle smile in hand. (Sigh.)

Of course, if it were not for the actors, these lines would not have been memorable. For me, both Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel did impeccable performances, and their chemistry is just awesome and believable. As most would say it, I actually do "ship" them. I love how, through the scenes featuring them doing karaoke, to them discovering the inevitable truth about their relationship, there as never any time wherein I did not assume that they had a certain fling going on outside of the set.

Plus, Richard McGonagle's performance as the film's narrator, talking about the happenings in our two main characters' lives, plus Geoffrey Arend's work, are awesome!

The soundtrack is also splendid, and I do admire the use of the song "Us" by Regina Spektor, as this single song alone fits the story's central themes.

Lastly, Marc Webb kept a good, watchful eye in maintaining the project alive, and his exceptional camerawork, with help from the cinematographers and editors, in scenes such as the sweet, Disney-inspired dance number, and the "Expectation Versus Reality" scene as visual highlights!

Honestly, I cannot think of any downsides to this movie, except that it does get slow a little bit, but hey, that is just me.

Overall, this awesome, above-average "anti-romantic" dramedy is eye-opening as it is heartbreaking, as the charismatic performances from its two leads, as well as the spectacular strength of its screenplay, sweeps audiences everywhere away, with its genre-defying nature!

And that is it for our review of (500) Days of Summer. In case you still cannot get enough of this movie, check out Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel's New Year performance a few years back, below! Stay tuned for more Dateline Movies!


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