July 26, 2009

MOVIES: 500 Days of Summer (Marc Webb, 2009)

Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel star in a marvelous romantic comedy that leaps through time to show us the 500 days of a couple's relationship.

It's clear from the beginning that Tom and Summer are not fated for long-term happiness; she makes it clear that she's not looking for a serious relationship, but he's such a hopeless romantic that he either can't or won't hear what she says. But Gordon-Levitt and Deschanel are so charming, both individually and as a couple, that it's great fun watching them go through the familiar romantic comedy motions.

And there's no doubt that it is their movie; none of the supporting characters are particularly interesting or memorable. But the writing is sharp and lively, and the structural gimmick of leaping back and forth in time (though not nearly as original as the writers think it is) is cleverly used.

There are scenes in 500 Days of Summer that are standard romantic comedy scenes that have annoyed me immensely in lesser movies, but are handled with enough freshness and energy here to make them feel new. A happy walk that turns into a musical number with every stranger on the street joining in; the "what I expected vs. what happened" split screen; the embarassing drunken karaoke bar scene -- this movie gets away with all of them. Gordon-Levitt is saddled with a pre-teen sister who gives him romantic advice, and the writers miraculously make even that work.

An absolute charmer, and happily recommended.

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