Wednesday, May 26, 2010

(500) Days of Summer

At the beginning of (500) Days of Summer, the narrator states, "This is a story of boy meets girl.  But you should know up front, this is not a love story."  So I was warned.

But that didn't help me not be mad at Summer.  (She gets a few points for being Zooey Deschanel, who played Trillian in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.  Seeing her on screen is pleasant yet frustrating; it reminds me of how much I liked the movie version of HHGG, but also reminds me that the sequels will never see the big screen.)  Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) falls in love with Summer.  Summer makes it clear that she doesn't believe in love, but then spends several months acting as if she is in love with Tom, doing all those things that people in love do.  Poor Tom.  She sends him on a roller coaster ride.
One bit illustrates this well.  He narrates as close up images of her flash across the screen: "I love her smile. I love her hair. I love her knees. I love how she licks her lips before she talks. I love her heart-shaped birthmark on her neck. I love it when she sleeps."  Later, after she ditches him, the same images flash, but with a revised narration: "I hate her crooked teeth. I hate her 1960s haircut. I hate her knobby knees. I hate her cockroach-shaped splotch on her neck. I hate the way she smacks her lips before she talks. I hate the way she sounds when she laughs."  I thought that was pretty clever.

Summer is one of those girls everyone likes.  (Early in the movie the narrator points out the increase of sales of ice cream when she was working at the ice cream shop.)  But poor Tom poured all he had into their relationship.  She took and took, all the while knowing that she couldn't or wouldn't reciprocate his feelings.  A lesson for Tom, but an unnecessary imposition of pain by Summer, a complete disregard for his feelings.  That's kind of the point of the movie, and, in a way, it's refreshing to see a romantic comedy where it doesn't all work out in the end.  Usually it's "boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl again for good."  In (500) Days of Summer, it's "boy meets girl, boy loses girl" and that's it.  Or, as one tag line puts it, "Boy meets girl.  Boy falls in love.  Girl doesn't."

In spite of my negative feelings, this was a very cleverly told movie with some great comedic moments and themes.  Worth watching.

Bottom line, 2 1/2 stars.

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