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"(500) Days of Summer"

Directed by Marc Webb.
Written by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber.
Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel.
Release Year:  2009
Review Date:  9/8/09

Folks--

When a movie has a five-shows-a-day run for more than two months, you KNOW that it must be pretty good.  Even films that make a lot of money these days do it over three weeks and then completely flame out...if a movie hangs around this long (like, say, "The Hangover"), that means that every week, a guy tells ten of his friends to see the thing, and that gives the whole production some legs.  Technically, "(500) Days of Summer" was released in July, but it has been showing at film festivals since January, and that word-of-mouth has powered a run akin to "Amelie" or "Memento" from years past, and with good reason..."(500) Days of Summer" is a romantic dramedy that didn't completely piss me off, which means it should probably win the Oscar.

The main hook to "(500) Days of Summer" is its mixed-up-chronology plot; in telling us during an opening narration that the film is NOT a love story, we meet Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Summer (Zooey Deschanel) nearly 490 days into their relationship while sitting on a park bench with a wedding ring on Summer's finger.  How did we get there?  What were the highs and lows of their relationship?  What's the significance of that park bench?  And, what will happen on the 500th day?

I liked this movie, in part for the soundtrack (you can never go wrong with Hall & Oates) and because of the very slight twist on the rom-com/drama mix.  In fact, "slightly different" is a running theme in this film.  Tom has a couple of buddies, just like every other one of these films, but they are slightly different than normal rom-com buddies.  Summer and Tom first find a mutual interest in music--vanilla for these kinds of movies--but they discover their shared interest in a way slightly different from other films of the genre.  And, the way the film wraps up, things take a turn, not completely off the highway, but maybe from the exit ramp lane to the passing lane.

Maybe what really makes "(500) Days of Summer" shine is that it doesn't appear to be trying too hard to make an impression, but it does just for that reason--with two stars that are good-looking but not hot, with a script that amuses with giggles and not guffaws, with a dance sequence that is cute but not overly choreographed, it almost sneaks up on you, in a way that makes normal, sensible people like the film for its strengths and ride out of the theater on a high.  It's understated, competent filmmaking at its best...maybe the biggest shocker is that it was written by the two guys that wrote "The Pink Panther 2" earlier this year, which is just plain baffling, to say the least!!

Rating:  $9.50 Show

 

Comments?  Drop me a line at justin@bellviewmovies.com.

 

Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/bellviewmovies.com except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 09/08/09