What a dreary film this turned out to be. That’s about where I am with (500) Days of Summer, a film that was nowhere near as funny as I anticipated, and one that I didn’t really enjoy all that much. I had heard almost unrelenting praise regarding the film, and almost all that praise didn’t seem to have much backing behind it after actually watching it.
There is only one main problem with the film, but that issue ends up hampering it enough to stop the film from being enjoyable. The misfortune of (500) Days of Summer is that it just isn’t funny enough to maintain the sense that it is a comedy. It definitely had its moments, like the aforementioned penis game, but these parts are too few and far between to keep interest in the film as a whole.
Told in a mostly non-linear narrative, (500) Days of Summer tells the beginning, middle and conclusion of a relationship between two people. Actually beginning with the relationship already over, we then learn what led up to the break up, and get to experience some of the nice moments within it.
Tom Hansen (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) believes that he won’t ever find love. One day, while at his job, his boss’ new assistant walks into the office. Her name is Summer (Zooey Deschanel), and Tom instantly becomes obsessed with her. She’s apparently not looking for a boyfriend, or so she tells him, but after time passes, they eventually become something closely resembling a couple, although neither will admit that they are together.
Their relationship does feel real, having highs and lows, just like in real life. This isn’t a fantasy for either character, and this quickly becomes apparent. Everyone has problems, issues that they have to overcome in order for the relationship to work out.
But wait just one second! We already know that their relationship doesn’t work out, What does it matter if they have problems? Well, not all of the film does take place in flashbacks. Or, at least, it didn’t seem like it. Near the end, once Tom has looked back on the past few months he spent, (or didn’t spend), with Summer, he comes to some sort of realization. Will he continue to try to get back with her, or will he move on with his life?
Thankfully, we do get an answer to this, and the conclusion he comes to is derived from things he figures out while reliving his relationship with Summer. In one night of thinking about what they’ve been though, Tom progresses as a character. He also changes throughout the flashbacks, switching from happy to depressed many times. See, the story switches back and forth between pre and post break up, offering a differing perspective of events that are somewhat similar.
This is the basic story, but unfortunately, it isn’t all that entertaining. Since real life relationships often times aren’t, why would an attempted adaptation of them be all that entertaining? The answer: it isn’t. The attempts to interject humor to the situations is cute at first, but quickly becomes tiring, with only a few bright moments. Most often, nothing important happens.
For a film that has a narrator stating that it isn’t a love story, (500) Days of Summer most definitely is. Or at least, it is an attempted love story, with Tom hoping to get, and stay, together with a woman who is obviously out of his league. He thinks this, his friends think this, and it even seems like this is what Summer believes. And yet, he tries, and initially succeeds in getting her.
His reasoning for this is because he believes that it is destiny. There is no logical reason for him to pursue her, and yet he does. This made me feel disconnected to him right off the bat, as that is something that I personally don’t believe is a good idea. Logic is something that the film doesn’t seem to utilize much, and that turns me off. It isn’t a fantasy film, but one that is trying to be realistic, meaning that it should have a logical core.
(500) Days of Summer actually did get off to quite a good start. It was funny, gave depth to its characters, and was quite entertaining. Then, about 10 minutes after it opens, it loses all of its steam. It tries to regain it later on, but doesn’t, only giving intermittent laughs. The characters aren’t all that interesting, and neither is their relationship. The story is told in an inventive way, yet still stays easy to follow. It’s just not a story that is fun or entertaining to watch.