Monday, August 10, 2009

Why Does Everyone Want To Be Michael Cerra: A Movie Review on 500 Days of Summer

I love movies. I especially love movies where characters burst out into a song and dance number mid-scene. I can't help it, I was raised on musicals. I blame my mother for it. Whoever said, "you are  a product of your environment" was right, and I'm exhibit A. So when Joseph Gordon-Levitt as angsty Tom Hansen, clad in a sweater vest and puma sneaks, breaks out into dance to the tune of You Make My Dreams by Hall & Oats, I knew I was going to love 500 Days of Summer. I had no doubts about loving it when I saw the trailer; I had no doubts about it when me and my friends decided to see it this past weekend; I had no doubts about it when I bought the ticket; But once we got to preview number three in the theater and it was another "indie flick" trying to be the next Wes Anderson, I began to worry. There's only ONE Wes Anderson. No one will ever match The Royal Tenenbaums or Rushmore. That's his style. Get your own. I actually blame it all on Juno. I think I was the only person who didn't like that movie. I understand why everybody liked it and it wasn't that bad, but now the theaters are clogged with actors trying to be Michael Cera and Ellen Page, with films that are trying way too hard to do self-loathing, under-achieving, awkward, normalcy. So I was worried I was going to have to sit through one of the said wanna-be films.

The movie begins. A black screen with writing in the bottom left corner:   "Author's Note: The following is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental. Especially you Jenny Beckman. [Followed by an expletive I don't think I'm allowed to write in this blog. Use your imagination]"  Cut to music and narrator. Everyone in the audience was laughing that knowing laugh - that 'I've-been-there-too' laugh.  Then a narrator begins to speak. It sounds just like Alec Baldwin narrating Wes Anderson's The Royal Tenenbaums. Sigh. 

The movie follows Tom Hansen (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), an underachieving 20-something who has a degree in Architecture but is stuck writing one liners at a greeting card company in NYC. Then there's Summer Finn (Zooey Deschanel), the cute new secretary with baby blue eyes and throw back 60's hair. It's love at first sight - well for Tom. Eventually a relationship ensues after bonding during a work party at a karaoke bar, despite the fact that Summer says she doesn't want anything serious. The movie cleverly jumps from the end of the relationship to the beginning, filling in the middle pieces as it goes along, with the narrator jumping in now and then to keep the story grounded and clear as it chronicles the couples fateful end. The storyline isn't deep by any means. It's more or less like a group of snapshots- each giving you little insights to certain moments in their relationship, each revealing a little more about the characters and how it all went wrong. It was fun knowing how it started and how it would end. It was like we were in on a joke that even the characters weren't in on yet. It made each scene like a little clue. So even if at times it did push the line of "tyring-too-hard-to-be-indie" [Note the crazy pants Zooey's character wears when she's introduced and the typical "You love the Smiths too?!" line] it was well balanced with moments that we could all relate to.

Overall, I loved the movie. Maybe because I saw a little of my old self in Zooey Deschanel's character, maybe because I always wanted a boyfriend who went to IKEA with me [if you see the movie you'll understand my reference], or maybe just because I love musical interludes. Whatever it was, I enjoyed it. And I like the message they left us viewers with as well: 1. There is such thing as love. (Kind of a 'duh'.) 2. Loving someone that's real, peculiarities and idiosyncrasies included, is so much better than chasing after Mr. or Mrs. Perfect. Or in this case I guess it was more of, loving someone that's real is better than getting abused by Mr. or Mrs. Perfect who ends up actually being a [enter previously unnamed explative in here].


On my iPod: The Smiths' Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me  (Yeah, yeah.... I know.)

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