Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Zooey Deschanel, Geoffrey Arend
Directed by: Marc Webb (debut)
Written by: Scott Neustadter (“The Pink Panther 2”) and Michael H. Weber (“The Pink Panther 2”)
With the number of offbeat romantic comedies hitting theaters this summer, there was bound to be some kind of overlapping scenarios between the projects. Not for “500 Days of Summer,” however. The quirky feature debut from director Marc Webb breaks from the pack with a rousing take on the most appealing and maddening factors in the boy-meets-girl relationship.
In “500 Days of Summer,” Joseph Gordon-Levitt (“The Lookout”) is Tom Hansen, a greeting card writer who immediately becomes infatuated with the new girl in the office, Summer Finn (Zooey Deschanel), after a brief encounter in an elevator where he discovers they share the same taste in music.
Problem is, Summer doesn’t believe in love. To her, love is a fanciful idea that she is too young to even consider. Still, there is something about Tom that reels in Summer like a schoolgirl, although she keep her distance. It’s almost as if the couple really isn’t a couple at all. We get a true sense of their relationship when they play house in a department store. For Summer, it’s fun to pretend and not have any expectations.
Through delightful narration and a non-linear story (all written – surprisingly – by the duo who gave us the dreadfully unfunny sequel “The Pink Panther 2”), we witness an extensive journey as Tom and Summer touch upon every nuance of a budding romance. Here, Gordon-Levitt and Deschanel basically switch roles as to not follow the same cliché situations we’ve seen before. Tom takes the role of the lovesick daydreamer while Summer seems to be biding her time until someone better comes along.
Unlike other quirky rom-coms of the summer like “Away We Go” and “Paperheart,” (the latter has yet to open in San Antonio) “500 Days” feels a lot less mechanical as it pinpoints all the emotions one might feel through a relationship where one participant doesn’t feel as strongly as the other. From the cold-bloodedness of a breakup to the sheer joy of a first kiss, the film elicits all types of heartache and adoration and is never gimmicky.
What we come out with at the end is an animated and vibrant tour through the lives of two young adults who meet each other when the timing just isn’t right. Depending on where you are in your own life, you can choose a side to empathize with more. There are no wrong answers in “500 Days.” With something as complex as a well-constructed romantic comedy like this, it’s refreshing to know there are also no blueprints involved.