500 Days of Summer is one of those movies that starts out so promising and subversive, but just wimps out along the way and ends up reinforcing all the old romantic comedy clichés we've grown tired of. A shame, too, because it could have been so much better, and the cast deserved a script worthy of them, but hey, I know better than to expect anything new from these movies, especially one that was so ubiquitous and relentlessly advertised.
The problem with the film, and this is spoilery, but I really can't tell you what's wrong with the movie without discussing its ending, is that it abruptly changes its mind about what kind of movie it wants to be in the third act.
It starts out establishing that trauma in one's formative years (either a nasty divorce or too much exposure to Smiths albums and romantic movies) can cause people to be too staunchly on either side of the issue of love: either a) it's a farce not worthy of pursuing that always ends in disaster, or b) it's a magical force owed to everyone, soulmates are real, and love means never having to say you're sorry.
Obviously, neither is completely true, and it's foolish to align yourself unwaveringly with either side. That is what this movie starts out being, and it's interesting for a while. Until it completely contradicts itself and just becomes the latter option at the end, that is.
As you've probably gathered from the omnipresent banner ads all over the internet, Joseph Gordon-Levitt's character is the die hard romantic, and Zooey Deschanel is the cynic. They date for about 400 days, she tells him from the get-go and throughout that she doesn't want a relationship because she doesn't believe in them, he fools himself into believing his love can change her, and he gets very hurt and angry when she dumps him when he gets too close.
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So then he's a cynic for a while, which happens. I don't have a problem with that part, and I should mention that there are some pretty fun visual elements in the movie -- whenever he experiences extreme emotional highs or lows he has intense daydreams, all of which were entertaining.
But here's the thing that drove me nuts about this movie: Zooey Deschanel just falls head over heels for some guy like the minute she dumps Gordon-Levitt and marries him immediately, and after the fact she tells her ex-whatever, and us, that it was fate that she met her husband in a coffee shop one day, and that he's her soulmate and that she's done a complete 180 and is now a convert to the rom-com canon.
Then Gordon-Levitt meets a pretty girl named fricking Autumn, if you can believe that, in the next scene, and he is instantly cured of his cynicism because he's found his soulmate and it's love at first sight, because apparently those two things exist in this storyworld now, all of a sudden, even though we just spent over an hour examining how foolish it is for grown-ups to believe in fairy tales or extremes when it comes to love in general.
So that's why this movie is stupid. If you're still interested in it, I recommend renting it and just watching the first 70 minutes, because the final scenes are a real aggravating bait-and-switch. If you want to be a Ghosts of Girlfriends past standard rom-com, just be that. Literally no one is stopping you. Just don't try to sell yourself as something better than that and crap out at the end. I paid 12 bucks for this!
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