SUMMER Lovin'

Photo by Chuck Zlotnick

(500) Days of Summer is a fresh comedy that defies categorization. It’s not a rom-com exactly because it doesn’t fit into that formula of boy and girl hating each other until they realize they don’t. The titular Summer (Zooey Deschanel) and greeting-card writer Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) get along right away. He falls in love with her at first sight upon meeting at work (she’s his boss’s assistant). She likes him a lot, too, but as a friend with benefits since she doesn’t believe in commitment at her age, something she tells Tom upfront.

The movie zigzags in non-linear fashion through the different stages of their relationship, showing how something can be cute and funny on day 40 but annoying on day 400. It’s a clear-eyed anatomy of a courtship, not quite a love story but not without romantic notions about soulmates and fate. And no matter what day it’s on, the relationship is engaging because of the chemistry between Gordon-Levitt and Deschanel.

We’ve seen Deschanel do the quirky thing before but her aloofness is perfect for Summer. She also gets to show off her lovely singing voice a little. And who knew the little kid from 3rd Rock from the Sun would grow up to be such a handsome, charismatic leading man? I’ve seen his impressive work in The Lookout and Brick but he was still playing awkward, on-the-cusp-of-adulthood characters then. Here, he’s full-grown and full-blown movie star.

One of the things I like most about Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber’s mold-breaking script is how every character is funny but in a distinctive way. Tom’s friends, McKenzie (Geoffrey Arend) and Paul (Matthew Gray Gubler), his boss Vance (Clark Gregg) and his sister Rachel (Chloe Moretz) all have moments of hilarity while staying in sync with who they are. This is different from a movie like Juno, which bugged me with all the characters, from parents to teens, speaking in the same hip dialogue.

jgl & zd chuck zlotnick

Photo by Chuck Zlotnick

Credit must also be given to first-time feature director Marc Webb for adroitly bringing this script to screen without destroying its originality. Cinematographer Eric Steelberg reminds me that L.A. can be romantic when viewed through a certain perspective. The soundtrack, which includes tunes from the Smiths and Regina Spektor, will make you feel cool whether you’re falling in love for the first time or not.

Nerd verdict: Memorable Days of Summer

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18 Comments

  • Reply
    le0pard13
    July 18, 2009 at 7:18 pm

    This does sound intriguing. And Gordon-Levitt continues to grow as an actor (I really liked him in The Lookout). Thanks for the review, PCN.

  • Reply
    popculturenerd
    July 18, 2009 at 7:29 pm

    I think it’d make the perfect date movie for you and SWMBO. 🙂

  • Reply
    Shelley P
    July 19, 2009 at 6:32 am

    He’s a greeting card writer? Really? Well I never. Aside from scratching my head over that one, it looks like something I’d happily take home from the DVD store, assuming I can’t drag hubby along to the movies to see it. Thanks for the informative review as always, PCN!

    • Reply
      popculturenerd
      July 19, 2009 at 9:55 am

      Did hubby like The Proposal, Shelley P? If so, I think he’d like this because it’s more original, better written and definitely safe for men. But watching it on DVD will be fine, too, since it doesn’t have any big explosive 3D effects that need to be viewed on the big screen.

      • Reply
        Shelley P
        July 19, 2009 at 11:48 pm

        The Proposal had hubby’s crush in it, so I’m afraid that puts it way ahead this in his mind. 🙂

        • Reply
          Shelley P
          July 19, 2009 at 11:48 pm

          Make that ‘way ahead OF this …’

        • Reply
          popculturenerd
          July 20, 2009 at 7:55 am

          Bullock’s also nude in it so I guess Summer has no chance with hubby.

  • Reply
    Julien
    July 19, 2009 at 6:45 pm

    Hi PCN!
    A friend of mine saw that one and told me it was really worth watching. She said it was a very nice comedy, that it was funny and refreshing, with a great casting, an original chronology and an attractive soundtrack.
    So I now have two positive opinions about it!

    After having received a standing ovation in Sundance, the movie will be part of the official selection at The American Film Festival in Deauville (with director Jean-Pierre Jeunet as head of the jury!) in September.
    Anyway, I’ve been a Joseph Gordon-Levitt fan since “Mysterious skin” (I also watched and liked “Brick” and “The lookout”), so I guess I’ll probably go and see these “(500) Days of Summer”! (It will be out on September 30th here.)

    • Reply
      popculturenerd
      July 19, 2009 at 9:42 pm

      Hi Julien, I agree with your friend completely and hope you will, too. Gordon-Levitt is adorable here and late in the movie, he even resembles Heath Ledger a little.

  • Reply
    y2k2
    July 19, 2009 at 9:40 pm

    I’ve read a fair number of the reviews of 500 Days of Summer, and yours is one of the most insightful. You didn’t just recite the story and give me all the plot details like so many reviewers. You actually had intelligent commentary. Well done ! Of course, I might be saying this because I agree with you, but these are details 🙂

    • Reply
      popculturenerd
      July 19, 2009 at 9:52 pm

      y2k2,

      Thanks so much! I try not to give away too many details because I hate when movies are spoiled for me.

      And since you agree with me, I hope you come back often!

  • Reply
    yeti9000
    July 20, 2009 at 3:38 am

    OMG, am dying to see this movie!! It played at Sundance when we were at Slamdance with “NOT FORGOTTEN” in January and despite all my efforts to score a ticket to see it, I missed it!

    Also, one of my favorite actors from our movie is in “SUMMER” too…Chloe Moretz! So, that, combined with your glowing review, gives me even more reason to want to see it now that it’s finally out! Yay!

    • Reply
      popculturenerd
      July 20, 2009 at 6:53 am

      I thought of you when Chloe came on screen! I was thinking how she didn’t have to go through nearly as much torture in this movie than in yours :-).

  • Reply
    BIZMAN5
    July 20, 2009 at 8:34 am

    Saw it this weekend. Wish they made more movies like this. It was real without being sappy.

  • Reply
    DonnaB
    July 20, 2009 at 3:04 pm

    I’ve been seeing previews of this movie off and on for some months and am glad it’s finally coming out. These two seem to have a natural ‘click’ onscreen. Another movie that’s not typical of Hollywood and I plan on seeing it.

  • Reply
    Poncho
    July 21, 2009 at 8:38 am

    I heard about the movie a while ago and then the buzz got a little cold. But I’m glad you shared your review with us.

    I previously wanted to see it. Now I can’t wait ’til it comes out here. I just got to find who to take to see it, LOL.

    • Reply
      popculturenerd
      July 21, 2009 at 8:45 am

      Poncho, you stud. You have so many choices for a movie date you can’t figure out who to take?

      • Reply
        Poncho
        July 22, 2009 at 1:54 pm

        I don’t have to FIND OUT who to take, but to FIND who to take.

        No idioms involved… sadly.

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