I went with an unorthodox picture instead of the usual movie poster here, because for one, I certainly HOPE that nearly any of you reading this review have already seen this amazing movie, and two, it represents pretty well one of my favorite scenes in the entire movie, and, well, almost my favorite scene in any movie ever. So, here goes, this is probably another pretty biased movie review, but we’ve already established pretty much any review is biased anyways, so suck on dat. This review is going to be part of a weekly series, my favorite movies of all time, and this movie would probably fall at about a solid #7 on a top ten list were I to make one (and I have, many a time…I have too much time on my hands, just like that awesome Styx song). Once I figure out what the hell I am doing with this blog I’ll even put these reviews in a different category, because I assume that most people have seen these movies already – and if you haven’t, then shame on you.
But on to this brilliant, wonderful, genius little hour and a half of a movie. This is not a traditional romantic movie at all, you aren’t going to have Katherine Heigl in some zany situation where she ends up having to care for her dead aunts kid or something and shes paired with the dreamy Josh Duhamel or something – yes, that’s a real plot for a movie. But hey, if DEATH BED: THE BED THAT EATS can get made, well then of course we can get a couple of nonsensical garbage Katherine Heigl vehicles, right? But in between all that tripe and sex in the city sequels, we have this gem of a “romantic comedy”. I use the quotes there because, if it absolutely HAD to be classified, that’s probably where we’d put it. But it wouldn’t like being there. This movie warns you right from the start that “it is not a love story”, and of course, like any good tale, it secretly really is, but it wants to turn all of those cutesy boy meets girl stereotypical movie ideas, you know, the ones that usually piss off jaded cynics such as myself, right on its head. And it succeeds mightily, even if we DO have a couple of those cliche’s peppered here and there in the movie…but hey, can’t have an omelette without breakin some eggs, right? Mmm, I could go for an omelette.
So this movie stars the always lovely and incredibly talented Zooey Deschanel, who was actually mostly just an indie darling before this movie – although this movie could still be considered “indie”, I think it’s distributor knew it had a hit on its hand and so it was advertised pretty heavily for months leading up to its release – a far cry from other (also great) movies she had starred in previously, ones you’ve probably never heard of like All The Real Girls, Flakes, or Yes Man…..oh s*** she was in that pile of garbage with Jim “I’m far past my prime but keep doing these stupid movies that have the same plot as Liar Liar” Carrey, wasn’t she? Well, I forgive her because of this movie. Which is a tall order because good god in heaven, did that movie stink. So we have Zooey, who is just wonderful in this as she often is, and she plays Summer, the cynical, jaded girl who doesn’t believe in love. And we have my boy Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who is becoming pretty much a regular for the movies I review I’m noticing, in the movie that kinda skyrocketed him to fame in the mooovies. Well, I mean, he WAS Cobra Commander after this and was the annoying kid from 3rd Rock From the Sun before this, but wasn’t everyone on that show annoying anyways? Yes, yes they were. But this was the movie where he really shined. He plays the antithesis of Summer – the hopeless romantic, sappy, believes-in-love-at-first-sight type we usually see in these movies. For gods sake, he even works at a greeting card company and writes sappy things for people who can’t just say it themselves.
The movie jumps around a lot ala Pulp Fiction, giving you a number for one of the 500 Days of Summer – OH! He said it! and this makes the movie all the more interesting and able to mess with your perceptions even more. One scene will have them madly in love, the next he is devastated and lying in bed alone. It’s these different takes on a romance that make this movie work so well, and why it is still so memorable even after you watch it for the tenth time (like I just did last night). Another trope of writing, specifically poetry, makes this movie succeed as well – and you know that if I am breaking out the big guns and comparing a movie to poetry, well then, me obviously likey this movie a lot. But the trope I speak of here is repetition – a GOOD sort of repetition, like a chorus to a song you can’t get out of your freakin’ head (A GOOD song, not like, “Who Let the Dogs Out” or anything by stupid Katy Perry) – this movie repeats some of it scenes, often played in Tom (Levitt’s) head. Except where first this scene might be something great he remembered about Summer, why he fell in love in the first place, the next time we see the scene it is in a completely opposite light – much like human nature views being in love and falling out of love. Yes of course this is a movie, and you need to suspend your disbelief just like you always do – particularly in a song and dance number that occurs right after they sleep together for the first time, or when he sees her face in every person on the street – but some of the truly real human emotions this movie explores are another thing that make it anything but your traditional romantic comedy.
As I’m already rambling about this movie (jesus it sure is easy to do with the ones I really love), I’ll skip ahead to what is, arguably, my favorite scene in any movie I have ever seen – yes, EVER – and it is represented in that picture there. There is about a five minute segment in this movie that has two views – the expectations of what he expects to happen at a party she invites him to after they randomly end up together at a wedding long after they are broken up, versus the reality of what happens. I have no other word to describe this scene but to say it is brilliant. Maybe magnificent? Yeah, I don’t use that word enough anyways. It represents all of our human-ness in it – how we always expect the best, particularly with someone we are completely in love with, and how the reality is often far, far from what we expect. Yet we keep these expectations anyways. This scene left me shaking my head at the end of it – not because I didn’t buy it, because I did, wholeheartedly – but because man…that’s just LIFE man! Life will let you down, it often does for anyone, and this movie just NAILS it in five minutes. It’s brilliance is reminiscent of how the movie Up told a better love story in five minutes with no words at all, than 95% of any other movie you see today can do – particularly those ones involving sparkly vampires or a stuck up prissy spoiled bitch looking for “Mr. Right” with all her slutty, inane friends. The ending of this scene gets a little artsy on you and sort of colors his world to black and white…and then rubs out all of the surroundings around him…just fantastic. It represents that nothing else matters sometimes, our world and surroundings, no matter how beautiful they are (because he is most assuredly walking into a beautiful scene here), do not matter one bit if we can’t share them with the person we truly love.
Alright, it was part of my job when I set about writing this review that I had to talk about that part, and I’ve done it. This is just an incredible movie. For those of you who haven’t seen it, and I really hope there aren’t many anymore, but if you haven’t, I won’t spoil the absolutely spot on ending. It is what needs to happen, given the characters in this movie – Levitt needs to play it this way and Deschanel needs to do what she does at the end. It is perfect, it is fitting for both of them. Yes, in the middle we see a few romantic cliche’s, we have a few annoying supporting characters like Levitt’s guy friends who are essentially pointless, but for every misstep (and again, there are few), we are redeemed with something great – like his whimsical, down-to-earth little sister, played by the adorable Chloe Grace Moretz here – although she plays anything BUT adorable roles after this one, but thats ok, keep your eye on her, she was excellent from the start. This is a fantastic movie, have I said that enough already. Go buy it immediately and watch it every six months to put a great big smile on your face, and know that while hollywood keeps pumping out mostly garbage, rehashes, unnecessary sequels (I even reviewed one a while ago, neat!) and stupid pointless 3D movies to take your money, something magical like this can still get made every once in a while and truly surprise you.