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IN SHORT: Sweet for dating grownups. [Rated PG-13 for sexual material and language. 96 minutes]
Anyone past college and still engaged in the search for the touchstones of life will be pleasantly surprised by 500 Days of Summer, a sweet little nothing that's fine for summertime dating BUT it is good enough that it should be a monster when the consumer DVD market opens in a couple of months
For those thinking ahead of the name, "Summer" is a character, even though the film does pass through the season of the same name twice. The story is about young Tom Hansen (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a New Jersey born guy who writes greeting cards for a living. Tom dreams of a "real" career as an architect. That career bump seems to work in his favor when Tom's boss hires a new secretary, Summer (Zooey Deschanel), just off a plane from Michigan. She is a fresh spring breeze amidst the Los Angeles smog and by day (30), Tom is smitten. They think alike. They like the same music (Springsteen and The Smiths) and the same kind of art (note to teens: don't snicker. You'd be surprised what you can learn about a date at an art gallery. That, and you usually get free wine). They like to play at pretend dating -- shopping at IKEA as if they were a couple (though we've always thought that was more of a female test of whether or not the guy is compatible. Been there. Done that.)
All that is in the way of a surprising permanent connection is Summer's dedication to staying single. Tom knew that from the beginning. Tom also thinks that, as the relationship develops and becomes intimate, that minds can change. Tom is no different than thousands of men that think have, at one time or another, followed that same line of thinking. You're looking at Cranky's life, circa 1983. We're sure it works for someone but we've never met 'em outside of teevee programs and other films.
There's really nothing extraordinary about what they do or what crosses their path but, as actors strive to achieve, sometimes ordinary life can be very interesting. That aside, we will say that there will be a wedding ring somewhere down the line. We're not going to say which or who gets it or how. We will say that we were enjoying this film far too much to slag it off as the standard dateflick, so we didn't write much of anything down. That's our first compliment for this film (one for the writing).
As the film whips back and forth across the 500 days of story, you'll see an animated graphic to keep you on track as to which day you're looking at. That's easy enough to do and clever and all -- BUT -- play close attention to the actual graphic behind the (###) count. The graphic detail is purposeful enough that we won't scream about it being film student pretentious (even though we sound like a film student just writing that way. Sorry.) . Director Marc Webb and his design team should take that as a major compliment from us. That's two in one review. We'll have to change our trademark.
The greater pleasure to be found in 500 Days of Summer comes from the chemistry between the stars.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to (500) Days of Summer, he would have paid . . .
Once you get past the twentysomething stage, finding an intelligent and enjoyable film gets harder and harder. Finding one you can take your spouse or date to; that will have something for both of you to enjoy is even harder. 500 Days of Summer doesn't go where you think it's going to go, unless it does, and is definitely recommended.
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