From the Editor

Movie Review Archive

Thank you for checking out my movie review archive. I'm in the process of transitioning to something else, so I will no longer post new reviews to this blog. In the meantime, I will keep these reviews archived; these are from the fall of 2008 to April 2011. Please watch this blog for more info and keep in touch (you can still find me on Facebook and Twitter). Here's to more great movies!

Wes Singleton

North Texas Film Critics Association

Saturday, July 11, 2009

500 Days of Summer - A-

Rated PG-13 for sexual material and language, 95 minutes

Two reasons to like the quirky, bittersweet "(500) Days of Summer": Zooey Deschanel

I have two announcements that I'd like to formally make right here to start my review: I have a big crush on the darling actress named Zooey Deschanel, who steals your heart, not to mention Joseph Gordon-Levitt's, in the new offbeat but tenderly bittersweet romantic comedy "(500) Days of Summer," which I'd like to anoint as the sleeper hit of the summer, maybe even the year. It's an unconventionally amusing, often pensive but moving love story.

"(500) Days of Summer" is the first anti-romantic comedy to come along in sometime, which explains a big part of its appeal. It tells the year-and-a-half story of a hopeless romantic and altogether sensitive dude and greeting card writer named Tom (Gordon-Levitt), who feels he isn't complete without the perfect woman in his life. He seemingly finds that in Summer (Deschanel), a new co-worker whom he is smitten with even after she says up front she really isn't looking for love, but maybe a good friend. Tom likes Summer. Tom loves Summer. But Summer is looking for other things, which lead the two down a unique and unpredictable but one-sided love affair.

"(500) Days of Summer" is an unsusual but bitterweet rom com with room for fun with sublime performances from the leads. The paths it takes are certainly unconventional, but remarkably moving. "(500) Days" is perfectly and exceptionally cast, with two actors who are made for something this offbeat. Deschanel is the best thing about the film: charming and quirky but wholly sympathetic as the girl who's unsure at what she's looking for, and makes you forget she was in the awful horror film "The Happening."

Just as good is the boyishly handsome Gordon-Levitt, who's morphed from the geeky mullet-haired alien boy in "3rd Rock from the Sun" to a terrific actor and a dashing leading man. Gordon-Levitt's sensitive portrayal of a guy with a rather stilted view of love and who wears way, way too many sweater vests anchors the film nicely, along with a playful chemistry he shares with Deschanel.

"(500) Days" is an auspicious first feature debut from director Marc Webb and the writing team of Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber. Their slightly peculiar views and explanations of romance are refreshingly different, though the jumpiness of the plot occasionally gives it an uneven feel, and a large part of the relationship quirks seem surface level. Still, "(500) Days" makes up for its choppiness by adding some entertaining, memorable scenes along this different romantic journey.

One such amusing scene in "(500) Days" has Tom dancing to the Hall & Oates '80s tune "You Make My Dreams" (part of a great soundtrack that should become a hit, with the exception of that hideous Patrick Swayze song "She's Like the Wind" from "Dirty Dancing") following an amorous evening with Summer. "(500) Days" goes back and forth in time, detailing the high and lows of Tom and Summer's relationship, blurring love's reality and love's expectations. What you want to happen often doesn't and what you don't want to happen often does.

As a warning, the final scene between Tom and Summer is a heartbreaking one, but Gordon-Levitt is astonishingly poignant (closely watch his face as he turns away and I dare you not to be moved). Just you think he's about to give up on love, fate brought two people together that led to bringing two more people together who were really meant for each other. Strange as it sounds, it all makes sense when you see "(500) Days."

"(500) Days" is unconventional but enjoyable, pleasurable summer fun, even for a romantic comedy. In spite of the slightly unsatisfying but brave ending, I still could watch Zooey Deschanel in anything, even with "She's Like the Wind" playing in the background.