(5) things I disliked about (500) Days of Summer

1. What was with those two friends of the main character? Are lines of dialogue that sound like they might have been plagiarized from an old Gomer Pyle television series episode now considered to be hip and funny?

2. What was with that little know-it-all sister? I think if there had been one more cute little scene with her in it, I would have had to leave the theater to go purchase a barf bag.

3. What was with that annoying calender that kept popping up on the screen every 13 seconds or so informing me about what day in the 500 day story I was currently watching? I guess this director had so little confidence in the sophistication of his audience that he thought we would all be hopelessly confused by the nonlinear plot unless he inserted a cheat sheet calender number in front of almost every scene. I guess Paint-by-number has been a great boon for individuals who want to paint a picture but have no talent for doing so. But please, do we really need a similar Scene-by-number technique of film producing?

4. When a trick pony does two or three tricks, it can generate delightful applause from an audience. But if the pony continues to do trick after trick after trick, at some point the applause starts to become motivated more by politeness than appreciation for the show. And if the pony continues until it does one trick too many, all of the positive feeling that was initially generated can turn sour. That is a lesson this director needs to learn. I think he used every cinematic technique ever invented (split screens, voice over narration, nonlinear sequencing, a dance number in the middle of the film … the list goes on and on and on). An auteur is able to get by with a handful of techniques, those that are appropriate for the film being produced, and the techniques that are used are often so subtle that they are not even noticed by the audience except after careful analysis. A less skilful director can easily fall into the trap of confusing quantity with quality, and like the trick pony, end up doing one trick too many.

5. The term “Kludge” derives from computer programming, and is defined as a clumsy or inelegant solution to a problem. I can not think of a more apt term to describe the ending of this film. The screenwriter/director spend most of the film setting up the audience to have a certain expectation about how the story will end. Then they want to surprise us at the end with an ending quite different from what was expected. This sets up a problem. How do the screenwriter/director demonstrate to the audience that there were clues all the way through the film that would have allowed the correct ending to be deduced if one had watched the film carefully? There are many potentially elegant solutions to this problem that the director/screenwriter could have employed. Unfortunately, the method chosen was a kludge of the worst kind.

I rated this film 2 out of 5 stars.



6 thoughts on “(5) things I disliked about (500) Days of Summer

  1. I tell you what, Ron, you viewed a completely different film than I did. What I saw was a clever, cute, sweet and sad tale of a young man who believed in the sentiment he slathered onto the greeting cards he wrote, a man who thought if a fellow falls in love with a woman, she will just naturally reciprocate. The goofy friends were a bit bothersome, but going clear back to the Bard, and rampant in all Asian cinema, one must have the comic relief, the mechanicals, for a sense of perspective. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Those nerds did not bug me as much as they did you. As to the little sister, again,you were lost out there in the perspective maze. To create a younger sibling who is wiser in the ways of the world is a strong motiff, a smart way to show the naivete of our protagonist. You and David just don’t do not seem to like clever or smart juvenile characters. I love them. I used to be one. Go watch Jody Foster’s film, LITTLE MAN TATE–see how that leaves you. This director did pull out all the stops using technique, but rather than criticizing him for it, most folks applauded the creativity, the bravura approach to his feature debut. The Bollywood dance number always kicks us into a new mode, but so what? A film can be, most always is a flight of fancy. So fly young Mr. Booth, and quite skimming along looking at your shoes. Yes, I agree, the director was having a hell of a lot of fun, and has not yet developed a serious or individualistic style, but like Ron Howard who hasn’t done so bad with his career, or Spielberg, he is a movie lover, and he knows how to deliver the goods. As to the calendar bits, yup that motiff did wear thin, but are you so young you do not remember the old Hollywood gimmick of using the calendar on screen to demonstrate shifts in time. Perhaps he first edited the film without the signposts, and it did seem disjointed, arbitrary, so this was a workable solution. Really, sir, for a guy who adores MEMENTO, which still stymies and confuses hordes of fans, I am surprised that you did not appreciate the shifts in paradigms and time and space. I think it juiced up the interest and kept intensifying the reflection of the relationship with Summer. As to the ending of the film, it came off like a bit of a pat fairy tale, kind of old fashioned, but did you not appreciate that his sentiment had, in fact, infleunced Summer, that not only did she realize that he had been “right”, but she shifted to his perspective and got married; just not to him. Then for him to follow his star and try for his architect dream, and on top of that to just fall into the lap of that gorgous stranger was a delicious cap to the his 500 days of simmer and summer.
    So we are diametrically opposed to each other, sir, competely on the opposite ends of the spectrum. The film rated 4 stars. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is an up and comer, the new Heath Ledger. Rent KILLSHOT, with him and Mickey Rourke. You will see some acting from him. Another thing….
    even when we only get 5-10 responsed, why can you not still set up the chart and graph? It will be skewed, for sure, but it will still exist.

  2. Always interesting to see antipodal point of view 🙂

    I just got back from Idaho where I spent a few days with our esteemed former director of the Tacoma Film Club, David Gilmour. While I was there I was perusing the New Yorker magazine when I ran across their assessment of the film. They summed it up so much more succinctly than I could do in one sentence (guess that is why we should leave these things to the professionals rather than reading blather by my ilk). Here is their summary:

    “Forcedly cute, clumsily mechanical, overdetermined, and undernourished, this ostensibly soulful romance is a plastic void.”

    How I wish wish wish I could write like that.

    Nevertheless, sounds like some like this kind of film — enjoy.

  3. Well, I guess there are “some” who like “this kind of film”, since it has stayed at the Grand for six weeks; quite a feat, and it has to be based on audience appeal, box office, and word of mouth. They don’t necessarily get smarter because they write for the New Yorker. Read Roger Ebert.


  4. love this film, watched it 3 times the last 2 days, now watching it again while researching about what others think about this movie

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