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(500) days of summer

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New resolution: posting brief thoughts on every movie I see.  Emphasis on brief.

I usually find overly comparative criticism (i.e. Jackie Brown sucks because it’s not as good as Pulp Fiction) a soul-sucking drag.  A good movie is a good movie regardless of how many better movies have been released before it.  And yet, while (500) Days of Summer rarely falters on a moment-to-moment basis, the end result is profoundly underwhelming, and the film’s repeated references to The Graduate don’t help matters.  The sense of 20-something ennui that Summer gamely tries to capture is infinitely better expressed in The Graduate and even this year’s criminally overlooked Adventureland; the film’s sporadic flights of fantasy pale in comparison to the casual inventiveness of Annie Hall; and Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s third act tirade against the greeting card industry—perhaps the one truly bad scene in the movie—is a blatant retread of John Cusack’s “Am I miserable because I listen to pop music?” monologue in High Fidelity.

But the biggest obstacle on (500) Days of Summer‘s path to memorability is 2004’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.  To be fair, I don’t envy any film that invites a comparison to Eternal Sunshine, which Summer‘s altered chronology and heartbreak-fueled melancholy clearly do.  But where Eternal Sunshine confirms its status as one of the defining American films of the decade with each passing year, I’d have a hard time arguing that Summer is one of the defining American films of the month.

I don’t mean to slag on the film.  It’s pretty good.  Romantic comedy-prone audiences could do a lot worse.  But at the end of the day, it’s just a cute movie about a cute girl that likes The Smiths, no more, no less.  Oh well, E for effort.

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Written by Tim

July 23, 2009 at 2:35 pm

Posted in Movies

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