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Laramie Movie Scope:
(500) Days of Summer

My favorite romantic comedy of the year

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by Patrick Ivers, Film Critic
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(2009) What could possibly come after Summer? On January 8th the office staff of the New Hampshire Greetings card company in Los Angeles, including Tom Hansen (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), is introduced by their boss Mr Vance to his new assistant, Summer Finn (Zooey Deschanel), just arrived from Michigan.

She has a mysteriously alluring effect on males (statistics provide the evidence), though McKenzie (Geoffrey Arend) warns Tom that she's a bitch. (But then McKenzie has little inside knowledge of women.) On day 290 (the chronology jumps forward and backward for contrasts) after the breakup, Tom's little sister Rachel (Chloe Moretz) arrives, anxious to settle him down, while Tom's breaking dishes in the kitchen: "I don't want to get over her. I want to get her back."

At the outset the narrator (Richard McGonagle) informs us that what we are about to watch is "not a love story," yet it is; and I fell in love with the truly alluring Deschanel, who pours just the right amount of insouciance into a mixture with Gordon-Levitt's innocence for a fascinating chemical reaction. There are plenty of fish in the sea, but poor Tom has swallowed Summer's hook, line, and sinker; and she can't decide if he's the one she wants to haul in.

Director Marc Webb's romantic dramedy, from Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber's brilliant blueprint of a screenplay, is a comic construction of cosmic forces coming into play, creating significant, life-changing coincidences.

On day 4 in the elevator, Summer approvingly says to Tom, listening to music with headphones, that she likes the Smiths. "I'm in love with Summer," Tom realizes on day 154, feeling his life's having worth and opening up to possibilities. But on day 22 he'd been sure everything was over between Summer and himself.

Six days later at a karaoke party with Tom, asked by McKenzie, Summer admits that she doesn't have a boyfriend and doesn't want one (not a lesbian either): "No such thing as love; it's a fantasy." However, afterward she tells Tom: "I think you're interesting" as a friend.

On day 31, unexpectedly while both are in the copier room, Summer kisses Tom passionately. Three days later, play acting in an Ikea department store, she compliments him - "You're funny" - but in his apartment, before getting very casual in his bedroom, provides caveat emptor: "I'm not really looking for anything serious."

Buildings go up (Tom, who studied architecture in college, takes Summer to his favorite place in the city, Angela's Plaza, where he draws a cityscape on her arm) and come crashing down; McKenzie references Henry Miller's recommendation of turning a woman into literature to get over her.

Summer lets him (on day 109) enter her world, bringing Tom into her apartment, gradually letting her wall come down: "I've never told anybody that before." On day 118, Rachel informs her brother of possible competition, a guy at the gym with "Brad Pitt's face and Jesus's abs."

On day 259, frustrated and confused, Tom - after getting insulted, "I can't believe this is your boyfriend," and punched in a bar - declares: "I say we're a couple," only upsetting Summer further (not impressed with his getting into a fight over her); later he again acquiesces to her rules of engagement: okay, no label but just wanting "some consistency" in the relationship. "I can't give you that," she replies: "Nobody can."

Tom's best friend Paul (Matthew Gray Gubler) expresses his view of love, with regard to his girlfriend of ten years since 7th grade: "Robin's better than the girl of my dreams. She's real."

Following a chance meeting (day 402) on a train trip to Millie's wedding (an older woman on the office staff), Summer (who'd left the company) invites Tom to her rooftop party where his expectations clash with reality. Unlike Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate, a movie that deeply affected Summer when they watched it together, Tom (who sometimes imagines himself as a movie star) doesn't (Is that what she was expecting?) whisk her away from the altar to which she's heading.

Bitter, lonely, and spiteful, he makes a scene at work, denouncing greeting cards as being like movies and pop songs, nothing but lies: "People buy cards because they can't speak for themselves."

In Angela's Plaza on day 488, Summer finds Tom, as she expected she would, who says what's happened "Doesn't make sense," to which she answers: "It was meant to be." Summer ends on day 500, and the next season begins on a Wednesday, May 23rd.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in video and/or DVD format, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2009 Patrick Ivers. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Patrick Ivers can be reached via e-mail at nora's email address at juno. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)