500 Days of Summer
Things have been a bit heavy around here lately. But it's Friday. So let's talk about love. Not a love story. But a story that's -- sigh -- about love. Like a lot of urban twentysomethings who listen to She & Him and venerate "Brick", I've seen "500 Days of Summer." And I liked it. I'd even recommend seeing it. But the movie is marred by a crucial bit of cowardice toward the end. This'll require some spoilers, so it goes below the fold:
The movie is much of what you've heard it is: It's stylish and surefooted and self-aware and quirky. But it is not what it promises to be: an attack on the conventions of romantic comedies.
The major conceit of "500 Days of Summer," of course, is that Tom and Summer break up. Like, whoa. There's no "happy ever after" here. This is, like, real life man. Sort of. Toward the end of the film, though, the story flinches. It can't quite bring itself to say that "happily ever after" isn't how it works. So it says, instead, that it's not how it worked this time. Summer leaves Tom, as I remember, a bit before the 300th day. By the 480th day, she's married to someone else. That means she met someone, fell in love, accepted his proposal, planned a wedding and carried it out, in a bit less than six months.
Say what you will, but the girl is efficient.
Summer's quickie marriage is squeezed into the film to avert a depressing conclusion. It allows her to tell Tom, who she runs into on a park bench, that he wasn't wrong to believe in love and fate and kismet and happily ever after. In fact, it was Summer who was wrong to question those things. "You were right," she tells Tom. "Just not with me."
It's a bit of a whiff for a movie that's supposed to be about the inadequacies of romantic comedies to end in a ringing affirmation of their central thesis. The movie presents itself as the antidote to your standard romantic comedy genre, but in fact, it's actually trying to be a prequel. That doesn't mean it's not a fun few hours in the cinema, and hey, I love romantic comedies and like the idea of "happily ever after." But given that this film's whole advertising campaign is based around patting itself on the back for resisting the easy fantasy of a sunset ending, it's a bit of a bummer to sit through it only to learn that the sunset happened just off-screen.
July 24, 2009; 2:05 PM ET
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