Finding something to love in (500) Days of Summer is a fairly easy task to accomplish. Marc Webb’s indie-rrific paean to failed romance is filled with enough jubilant laughs and heartbreak to make it an instantaneous hit (the $27,000 per screen average the film scored this weekend bears this out). But … something about it just didn’t sit well with us: Underneath all its “romantic comedies are bull—this is the way things really are!” pretenses, (500) Days of Summer is nothing more than a typical romantic comedy. What gives!?
Perhaps we were naive to believe otherwise, though we can’t take all the blame. For star Joseph Gordon-Levitt—no matter what issues we had with the film, one thing is clear: This man is poised to be the next “greatest actor of his generation”—was quoted by New York as saying that most Hollywood romantic comedies sell audiences a “bill of goods you know is wrong.” Just last week, screenwriter Scott Neustadter (who co-wrote the film with Michael H. Weber) told the The Observer that (500) Days of Summer came from his anger in “rejecting the last 20 years or so of these Hollywood romances where if you look like Matthew McConaughey, you’re going to be alright.” Sounds good to us! As The Observer’s Sara Vilkomerson wrote back in February, movies like He’s Just Not That Into You warp the mental state of the country’s single population by presenting an ideal that will never, ever (ever!) happen. Well, think of (500) Days of Summer as the male version of He’s Just Not That Into You: Despite it’s protestations, the film is filled with ridiculous things that only happen in romantic comedies. If we thought they were there for the sake of irony, maybe we would have loved the film more—but everything is played so earnestly straight that it must be taken seriously.
Summer really takes a turn for the worse in the finale. (Stop reading if you don’t like spoilers!) Tom (Mr. Levitt) has another meet-cute with another incredibly gorgeous girl outside of a job interview; he asks her out, and, of course, she says yes. After all he’s learned—that love isn’t about coincidences and what kind of music you like, but something else entirely—Tom gets swept away by a girl who just so happened to “know him from somewhere,” and, naturally, she’s readily available to him. We get that this is the kind of “things don’t change” ambiguous ending screenwriters think is awesome, but, to us, it was completely unearned. For a movie that spends two hours telling audiences that there are no fairy-tale endings, how dare it end like a fairy tale! We still want to see the romantic comedy that everyone who worked on (500) Days of Summer thought they were making. Oh well, maybe next time …
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