(500) Days of Summer (UK - BD RB)
If Marcus had Zooey sing The Smiths to him in a elevator, he'd be in love too...
This is a story of boy meets girl. The boy, Tom Hansen (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) of Margate, New Jersey, grew up believing that he'd never truly be happy until the day he met the one. This belief stemmed from early exposure to sad British pop music and a total mis-reading of the movie 'The Graduate'. The girl, Summer Finn (Zooey Deschanel) of Shinnecock, Michigan, did not share this belief. Since the disintegration of her parent's marriage she'd only love two things. The first was her long dark hair. The second was how easily she could cut it off and not feel a thing. Tom meets Summer on January 8th. He knows almost immediately she is who he has been searching for. This is a story of boy meets girl, but you should know upfront, this is not a love story.
(500)Days of Summer is a movie I’ve been itching to get back to since seeing it last year. The soundtrack has sat snugly on my MP3 player for months, Joseph Gordon-Levitt's career seems to be going from strength to strength with a fine slew of indie flicks and some great projects coming up (yes, I’m choosing to ignore G.I Joe—let him have his fun) and I may be a little bit in love with Zooey, what with her onscreen persona and that singing voice. Anyway, gushing aside (500) Days of Summer was a movie that put a spring in my step and totally broke my heart. A fine combination!
From the opening Regina Spektor track ‘Us’ ringing out, I was immediately hooked on the feel good nature of this flick, all this despite the downer opener revealing Tom isn’t with Summer anymore and giving us our first nod that this story isn’t going to be told in order but by selecting random moments from the five hundred days and jumbling them up.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt is immediately likable once again and plays his role with a fine balance of goofy, besotted and just plain cool. This easily allows the viewer to put themselves in his shoes as he grows more and more infatuated with Summer and with his little crush coming to a head with the simplicity of hearing Summer say she likes The Smiths and singing a couple of lines in the lift is pretty much the perfect way for anyone to fall hook line and sinker in love with Zooey Deschanel. Did I mention I adore her singing voice… I’m gushing again aren’t I?
Anyway, after the two pair up (not become ‘a couple’) and we travel through Tom’s journey of the ‘500 days of Summer’, we get all the highs and lows of a blossoming relationship, including the greatest feel good moment since the Jackson Five moment in Clerks II, a full on dance routine to show Tom’s happiness, all set to Hall & Oates ‘You Make My Dreams’ and one of the finest Star Wars references in recent memory. I mean come on, who doesn’t want to see Han Solo in their own reflection and have him wink back? You know everything’s pretty perfect at that stage, right?
Of course it’s not all roses. As we discover, things don’t go so well when you’re besotted with someone and they don’t return the feelings. And frankly this is where 500 Days of Summer shines. It has so many moments that for anyone who’s ever has had their heart broken knows ain’t pretty. The awkward meet ups, the feeling that there’s nothing you can do and the overpowering sensation that going through the day-to-days of life is entirely pointless is played out well and still manages to raise a few smiles while it’s at it.
Marc Webb does a fine job at balancing all of drama, comedy and relationship stuff and steers the plot at a nice pace (adding a lot of faith in his handling of the rumoured Spider-man reboot if he gets the gig—after all we now know he too can pull off a goofy little dance moment in the middle of a movie when it’s called for). His cast’s strengths are used to full affect and thankfully he’s managed to produce one of those rom-com’s for people who don’t think girls falling over or being lied to, only to make everything right in the last scene scenarios are the only option and frankly he’s woven it together with a crackin’ soundtrack.
Straight away I was surprised that this wasn’t quite as bright and colourful as I’d remembered it. Watching it again here, I noticed more that it has quite a soft palette of colours with much of the early half of the movie having a pink-ish tone to it. Colours are quite muted and skin tones and textures are quite soft as opposed to razor sharp.
The detail levels vary from not being that noticeable to showing off quite natural approaches to things. Zooey’s face can look very naturally lit a lot of the time and shadows are allowed to creep onto the cast’s faces without the usual rom-com lights banishing them. Additionally, some of the close ups really highlight the good stuff in the transfer. Eyelashes, skin blemishes and hair styles all pop off of the screen in glorious HD.
While, I was pretty happy with the presentation overall, I wouldn’t say that it does anything that impressive. It does all it needs to do for the genre and in many ways the reduced sharpness of it all aids the style of the movie. Beyond the odd speck, the transfer is clean and pleasant enough but it could be argued that the image is a little dark in places and a little soft for some tastes.
As usual, there’s not exactly lots to do for a drama-romantic-comedy (draromedy?) beyond clear dialogue and making the soundtrack sound good in all the right places. In that respect (500) Days of Summer totally succeeds. Dialogue is clear and sometimes with a nice bit of bass backing it up. The soundtrack places itself nicely knowing exactly when to whack the volume up and when to hover in the background speakers.
Beyond the sturdy basics, ambient noises such as bird chirping and cars passing fill the surrounds nicely but never enough to call too much attention to themselves and generally the DTS-HD MA track pleasantly goes about its business with very little fuss.
Up front it’s probably best to mention that the US version of (500) Days of Summer has a thirty minute making of, a commentary with director Marc Webb, writers Michael Weber and Scott Neustadter, and actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt and a few other featuettes that don’t show up on this UK release. Boo!
What we do get is the leftovers. The deleted alternate scenes (14:42 HD) are more alternate than deleted and really the only great offering is the 'worst morning ever' version of the Hall & Oates musical moment in the film.
‘Conversations with Zooey and Joseph’ (12:26 SD) has the two leads discussing acting and L.A. in short fluff pieces used to promote the movie. They are a bit of fun despite their weird subject matters, but then the disc gets really fun.
Firstly there is a great little spoof 'Mean’s Cinemash: 'Sid and Nancy'/(500) Days of Summer' (03:28 HD) which has Zooey as Sid and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a creepy bearded Nancy. There’s a whole lot of chuckles to be had with the short and the same can be said for ‘Bank Dance directed by Marc Webb’ (04:18 SD) which has the pair in a silent short that ends up with them dancing to She & Him’s (Zooey Deschanel’s band incidentally—check out the album it's awesome) ‘Why Do You Let Me Stay Here’. Lastly there’s a music video for ‘Sweet Disposition’ by Temper Trap (04:01 SD).
On a side note the disc came with a glossy leaflet announcing that pre-orders for Avatar start on January 29th with some artwork and no there’s no mention of a release date of features yet. Wave two of the hype train begins!
(500) Days of Summer provides an adequate release on Blu-ray, with a good enough AV presentation and an okay basket of extras to enjoy (despite missing off the meatier stuff of the US region locked release).
The movie itself besotted me because it isn’t afraid to wear its emotions on its sleeve whether it’s falling in love or breaking a heart and can be as hard to watch as it is fun to play along with and frankly that’s never a bad thing.
The leads provide two characters that are fun to be around and with that great soundtrack backing them up, it’s hard not to want to rush back for more from this charming little movie, if only for the guaranteed smile the dance number provides after the reassuring wink from Han Solo.
* Note: The above images are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over
Release Date: 18th January 2010
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English, Audio Description 5.1 English
Subtitles: Danish, English HoH, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish
Extras: Deleted and Extended Scenes, 'Bank Dance', Mean's Cinemash, Music Video, Conversations with Zooey and Joseph
Easter Egg: No
Director: Marc Webb
Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Zooey Deschanel, Chloë Moretz, Geoffrey Arend, Matthew Gray Gubler, Clark Gregg, Rachel Boston, Minka Kelly
Genre: Comedy, Drama and Romance
Length: 95 minutes
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