It's hard to find a romantic comedy that doesn't delve into cliche or try its hardest to be “cute” and “quirky” nowadays, that is when it doesn't just tell a straight romance story with all general schlock and melodrama. Director Marc Webb's (500) Days of Summer is prefaced with being about a boy and a girl, but is quick to emphasis “this is not a love story.” This is a story that questions love, what defines it, and what happens when it's not reciprocated in the right way. Critics may be quick to say this is a typical entry into the genre of romantic comedy, but for those sick of the same old thing it'll be something new.
Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is an idealistic man who thinks of true love as being the one thing that will make him happy, and finding his soul mate is his grand obsession. Summer (Zooey Deschanel) doesn't believe in love, marriage, or relationships but likes Tom nonetheless. The film details the 500 days in their relationship, from courtship, consummation and overall deterioration, while Tom tries to find a new way to define love.
One can't look at (500) Days of Summer as a love story, it's more of about a man growing up with an outdated style when it comes to relationships, and having to come to terms and change his outlook. Tom sees love like the movies, thinking that since him and Summer share a love of the same things, that makes them compatible. Throughout the course of the movie, and more so after Summer and Tom are broken up, he is forced to confront from others that the relationship was never what he wanted in the first place. Actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt propels himself into the role and the audience feels for Tom throughout his search. He's a nice guy who isn't afraid to show the world he's in love as evidenced by a fantasy dance number in the park, and he's mystified that a girl as perfect as Summer isn't the one for him. Levitt conveys the role with a real emotion and by the end you're hoping something good happens to him so he'll believe in love. When he enters into a depression of sorts after failing to reclaim Summer his attempts to cope are hilarious for how true they ring. He starts taking out his aggression by writing hateful greeting cards when he works in the romance section of a greeting card company, and he openly tells a coworker her ideas are stupid. The film style is one that's seen as “cute” with said dance numbers and split-screens to emphasis the difference between Tom's reality and expectations, but that's what makes the movie fun to watch. These fantasy sequences and odd directing techniques allow viewers to enter Tom's mind and see his thought processes in the film. Chloe Moretz, Geoffrey Arend and Matthew Gray Gubler have funny scenes as Tom's little sister and friends respectively. Moretz has more of the humorous one-liners as Tom's 12-year-old sister that's more knowledgeable and realistic about relationships than he is. The soundtrack has been seeing good business on iTunes and that's because everything works so well. Songs by The Temper Trap, Regina Spektor and The Smiths make a perfect “Botched Relationship” CD if you're looking for one.
The movie does lose its steam and pizazz towards the finale of the film as Tom makes his final attempt to gain Summer back. The tone shifts to a darker aspect that doesn't seem suited to a man attempting to win back his lover. Deschanel also comes off as completely unlikeable in the role of Summer. Sure she's not supposed to believe in relationships and commitment, but her decisions at the end seem so abrupt as to contradict everything we've seen. It's meant to make Tom wake up, but it throws her entire character into upheaval.
If you rent this be prepared to have no additional material. The standard DVD has a commentary with director Marc Webb, the co-writers and Levitt as well as deleted scenes and trailers. The Blu-Ray has additional featurettes, audition tapes, storyboards, music videos, a digital copy and more. The movie is more than worth a purchase and depended on how much you love this movie will influence your decision to go Blu-Ray or standard DVD.
(500) Days of Summer is a great romantic comedy in a time when love is constantly changing. Levitt firmly cements his role as a strong leading man and the quirky editing and story shape a charming romance that will make even the most cynical person smile at the end.