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Monday Review: (500) Days of Summer


'(500) Days' brings freshness and life to rom-coms

The set-up for (500) Days of Summer is hardly anything new, as the film readily admits. The story of boy meets girl is as old as stories go, and has been told on film so many times that even the most die hard lover of love must be getting a bit bored of it by now, right?

The most popular modern way to tell the story of boy meets girl is the romantic comedy. Here boy and girl meet, but it is through or during a situation that is ripe with comedic laughter. That laughter might not always come depending on the quality of the film, but that's the general intention of the film. The formula has been set for the rom-com for years now, and films hardly ever deviate from it, though some do better at it than others. Then along comes (500) Days of Summer and you realize that a romantic comedy doesn't have to be trite, cliche and standard, but can be vibrant, clever and creatively done.

As I said, (500) Days is a classic story about boy meets girl, but, as the film once again readily admits, it is not a love story, but more a story about love. The boy in question for the this story is Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and the girl in question is Summer (Zooey Deschanel). Tom and Zoey meet at work. Tom, who is somewhat of a hopeless romantic, falls instantly in love. Zoey, who is somewhat of a cynic, takes a little while to come around. They do eventually start dating, have troubles and figure out if they're in love or not.

It sounds pretty canned, I know, but the inner workings of the story give the entire film a fresh appeal and there's far more to the film than just their "love story," if it can be called that. For instance, the entire thing is told out of order. The first scene takes place on day 500 with Tom and Summer sitting on a bench holding hands and her wearing a big engagement ring. The film then jumps to them meeting on day 1 (get the title now?). Then it hops to do day 235 where Tom is breaking plates because Summer broke up with him. Back to day 3, up to day 48 and so on. It constructs the story of their affair in such a way that you're never sure if it will last or not and you're always wondering where the film will go, unlike other rom-coms where you can practically predict the next scene to come on the screen.

It's not just the clever structure of the film though. There's actual heart to this one. Nothing ever rings false in the film, not even a musical number after Zoey and Tom hook-up for the first time in which an animated blue bird lands on Tom's finger. Everything works, and it's because the screenplay and the direction ring so true. The movie isn't putting love in a comical situation for laughs, it's taking a wonderful story and having fun with it. Any guy whose gotten the girl of his dreams performs at least a tiny musical in their head, (500 Days) just takes it the next step.

It goes beyond the humor though. The film delivers on what many rom-coms miss out on, which is the romance. This is simply because it isn't a love story, but a film about love. Other romantic comedies spend most of their time forcing comedy over a romance that rings about as flat as the screen their projected on. (500) Days delivers a story and romance and then mixes the comedy in so that you're not sitting through a film desperate for your laughs, but instead sitting through a film entranced by its story, which, by the way, has a bit of a twist at the end.

You may see the twist coming before the end of the movie pretty easily, and most likely because it wasn't supposed to be that hidden, but it doesn't really matter. It's the story and its execution that will grab you, and thanks to the wonderful casting and directing you're never really sure where that story is going to go. (500) Days of Summer is that rare movie about boy meets girl that defeats the oldest nemesis of the rom-com genre: predictability. As such it is by far one of my favorite films of the summer and possibly the year so far.

So I can't put this link in it seems without having the post blocked, and I can't publish it myself without the format getting messed up so if you would be so kind to copy and paste and then delete the space in examiner I would really appreciate a click through: http://www.exa miner.com/examiner/x-939-New-Movie-Examiner~y2009m7d17-500-Days-brings-freshness-and-life-to-romcoms.
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About Matthew Razakone of us since 2:04 PM on 04.03.2009

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