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DVD Review: (500) Days of Summer

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(500) Days of Summer is a romantic comedy starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel. Tom (Gordon-Levitt) is a writer at a greeting card company who is instantly smitten upon meeting his boss’s new assistant Summer Finn (Deschanel). While Tom thinks it's a great relationship, Summer isn’t looking for anything serious and does her own thing. The film chronicles the 500-day period of Summer and Tom’s relationship, told in a nonlinear fashion as it jumps around to numerous points in their romance.

The non-linearity is what I really liked about the film; you see the beginning of the relationship, the end (which occurs on Day 290), good times and bad, the mending of the friendship, and the end of their time together. As with all relationships, things that Tom finds cute or endearing in the beginning, like the way Summer licks her lips or has a cute birthmark, become an irritant after they break up and he still thinks about her.  It also had the male lead as the idealistic romantic, and the female lead wanting to keep it casual, which isn’t often done in films.

In addition to the nonlinear storytelling another cinematic trick used in the film that works very effectively is the split screen, which on the left side shows Tom’s expectations while the right side shows the reality of the situation. As in real life the expectation is usually better than the reality, such as after Summer invites him to a party and Tom has all these ideas of how the night will go and then he realizes what the party is actually for.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt was miscast as the psychopathic Cobra Commander in this summer’s film G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, but is a great choice as the idealistic Tom, who really wants the relationship to work; he becomes even more convincing as he goes through the depression of the relationship ending. Zooey Deschanel is great as the quirky ingénue, who is herself and doesn’t want anything more than to live in the moment.

The extras for (500) Days of Summer include a commentary with co-writers Scott Neustadter and Michael Webber, director Marc Webb, and star Joseph Gordon-Levitt. The quartet discuss what it was like to make the film. Highlights of the commentary include when Neustadter talks about the girl and relationship that provided the basis for the screenplay. The enjoyment that the participants had making (500) Days of Summer comes across during the commentary and makes you want to know more about their experiences. Gordon-Levitt talks about working with his co-star and how his years on 3rd Rock From the Sun and the great cast helped him throughout the making of this film.

The other extra is about 14 minutes of deleted/extended scenes which were either trimmed for time or just didn’t add to the overall plot. While it’s understandable why the scenes were trimmed or deleted entirely, it’s nice to have the option to view them now.

What’s missing from the extras is a making-of featurette and Zooey Deschanel’s thoughts on the movie. We have her co-star's thoughts thanks to the commentary, but it would be nice to have both sides of the story.

(500) Days of Summer is a quirky romantic comedy that depicts what one person deems a significant relationship. The other person is just part of it until something else comes along.

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