Friday, January 15, 2010

A to B Back and Forth Review: 500 Days of Summer, Part II

Yesterday, Kozy and I started with our analysis of 500 Days of Summer, posting Part I of our back and forth conversation. So yeah, read that first. Today we conclude with Part II.


Hey Andrew,

I saw (500) Days of Summer twice in the cinema. That is a lot for me. Normally I won’t see a movie twice in any format, even if I think it is great. My second screening was with two friends. Following a noon show we all walked out onto a sun filled Amsterdam street with smiles on our faces and bliss in our hearts. That was the exact sentiment from all 3 of us.

We were happy. I did not have to spend the following days thinking "what do I make of this movie?" like after Inglorious Basterds. No. I just lived in the moment and enjoyed my ear-to-ear grin. What more can I ask from a movie, really?

To assert that this movie is 99.4% hipster and then criticize it for that reason seems a tad hypocritical. As a blogger currently ranking the top 50 albums of the 2000s, many with titles that nobody outside the hipster indie music scene have heard of you walk a fine line.
Look at those cute little Hipsters!

I realize that you are not a self identified RomCom fan, but surly you would choose a hip, innovate ‘gimmick’ movie (your word), over any of 2009’s generous offering of bad romantic comedies. I defy you to find a film from this list better than (500) Days of Summer. The Proposal, Couples Retreat, He’s Just Not That Into You, Ghost of Girlfriends Past, All About Steve, New in Town, Jennifer’s Body, I Love You Beth Cooper, Away We Go. Only a few of these films were tolerable, and only one was, dare I say good; and that one, Away We Go, was slapped with your exact same criticism as being too ‘hipster’.

So did I read your email right – your biggest knock on (500) is that it has an “excellent” gimmick? That it tries too hard to be off-beat, clever and different? If that is the case, then I think you should just declare yourself genre opposed and step away from the category.

Anyways, Tom is not hipster. He is cool in that undiscovered way. A hidden gem if you will. He is hip in the romantic Lloyd Dobler sense, but not in the Tyler Durden rock star kind of way. Clearly, like Dobler he is inexperienced in relationships and that is part of his appeal. Luckily Tom’s got a plucky little sister who is smart and funny without crossing into the dreaded Juno territory of acting and speaking like someone twice her age.

Maybe there is a good reason you and your friends could not define a hipster. Hip people tend to be critical and uncompromising. Frankly I am surprised at your distant view of hipsters. Maybe that means you are one...



My main man!

Why is it that on the movies where we disagree, even slightly, you bounce back armed with an ad hominem using cherrypicked evidence from this here blog? First I'm not sufficiently nerdy to appreciate Science Fiction and now I'm not allowed to like a Romantic Comedy? You know that I think that 80% of them are terrible, and your helpful list serves to drive that point home. 80% of them are terrible. I don't begrudge your smile, and I didn't hate this movie. I in no way implied that it's in the lousy 80%. Perhaps my observations were too highbrow; but then again a sunny smile is not exactly a review.

Here's where I'm netting out. The movie was creative in its gimmick, and yes, I'm going to keep using that word. It's a great way to approach a relationship because it's exactly how we view them at the end. That they tell us right up front that this is not a love story, so we really shouldn't get our hopes up. That they deliver on the promise makes it all the more unique within the RomCom genre.
A gimmicky photo, yet this gimmick is also quite worthwhile, hmm?

I brought up the Hipster approach to this movie as observation, not attack. Though I do think that there were cop-outs galore. Characters were built on superficiality, with Hipster counterculture being the vehicle. But as I said before, this is a great way for the movie to make its point. Tom falls in love for reasons that are largely superficial. It blinds him into thinking he has a real relationship. (Speaking of, Paste Magazine presents the the ten year Evolution of the Hipster.)

As far as my biggest knock on this movie, it is that it just wasn't very funny. I found its most "creative" scenes, like the post-copulation dance routine to be pretty hackneyed humor - the kind of stuff you saw on Friends ten years ago. Besides that, they totally distracted the viewer from the main story. But the overall concept made the film worthwhile. There are thoughts to be provoked here. We grow up. We get better at this whole dating thing - not necessarily at "bagging chicks," but getting into relationships that work. That's how you got yourself a wonderful wife, superior in every way to Raquel. I'm in a great relationship, one I would have surely screwed up ten years ago. You get the feeling that Tom will be there one day, too, though it may take him a lot longer than a mere 500 additional days...

So we agree to (kind of) disagree on this film. I'm in no hurry to watch it again, but I'm sure one day I'll give it another peek. Maybe you're already gunning for round three!

Until next time (most likely a certain James Cameron vehicle...?), Saludos y un abrazo muy fuerte!


Emily said...

I agree w/ you 100%, Andy. This movie was too much about the aesthetics of the counter-culture. I had the same problem with Napoleon Dynamite.

Reed said...

Interesting observation, Emily. Also interestingly, I gave them the exact same OWR value - 65, signifying a good but not great movie. I guess I come away thinking that this movie had some of what is needed to get up into that 85-or-better range, but they didn't go for it all. Hence the "detached" OWR. They preferred to hang out in Ringo-land instead of making a more meaningful film (ala Say Anything... as Brad referenced).

Thanks for stopping by, Em!

hanum said...

I like this movie a lot, it reminds me of someone. Good.. Good..