Aggravating and cloying from minute one, (500) Days of Summer feels like it was written by a bunch of marketing executives who just took a class on indie quirkiness at the Learning Annex. Joseph Gordon-Levitt (yes, yes, adorable, in adorable cardigans) falls in love with Zooey Deschanel (yes, yes, her giant eyeballs), but she does not believe in love. They flash backward and forward through the 500 days of their doomed and dull relationship, doing gimmicky young-people things like appreciating Los Angeles (most people just don't get it) and listening to this little indie band called the Smiths (who!?!!?!?!?) and trying to remember the tune to the Knight Rider theme. I wanted. To die.
The idea here, the thing, the reason this movie thinks it's smart, is that it's not just another romantic comedy (it basically screams NOT JUST ANOTHER ROMANTIC COMEDY from every rooftop in Silver Lake or wherever-the-fuck-is-the-new-Silver-Lake). It is NOT about a boy and a girl who fall in love, and then there's conflict and they break up, but then the wisdom of children happens (or some shit), and one of them realizes that the other one was the one they wanted all along, and till death do us smooch, then grandma (Cloris Leachman, I'm sure) says something sexual and falls in the cake. You know. It's not that.
What happens here is much more true to life: Tom (Gordon-Levitt) is infatuated with Summer (Deschanel). Summer only kind of likes Tom, but he can't see it because of his big, fat infatuation. So she says she doesn't want a relationship, but he thinks if he's persistent she'll change her mind because of true love and all that, and she ends up accidentally taking advantage of him, and he ends up getting hurt. Sound familiar? OH RIGHT, THAT'S BECAUSE IT'S LIKE EVERY SINGLE BORING RELATIONSHIP THAT YOU AND EVERYONE YOU KNOW HAS EVER HAD. Like a late-night chat with some friend who should have gotten over it a year ago but still wants to talk and talk and talk—now played out on-screen in all its repetitive, stubborn glory. Plus the Smiths. Hooray?