Monday, February 15, 2010

Monday Movie Review: (500) Days of Summer

(500) Days of Summer (2009) 4/10
Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) meets Summer (Zooey Deschanel) and begins a romance that we know from the outset will end. Title cards show us which of the 500 days we are looking at in each of the scrambled-time-sequence scenes.

About half the reviews I've seen of (500) Days of Summer were delighted and laudatory. Most of the others suggested that the movie was too cutesy and self-satisfied with its own happy cuteness. In response to those, I thought, Wow, sounds like the movie for me! I love cute. Finally, some reviews suggested that the movie was sexist, and while I don't love that, I love movies, and a lot of them are sexist. I survive.

Boy, was I not prepared for the hellfest that was (500) Days of Summer.
First of all, cute just doesn't cover it. Cloyingly cute. Smugly cute. Derivatively cute. Me shouting at my TV "STFU with your cuteness you stupid cute thing!" cute. Dude, you are not Ferris Bueller, stop trying to trick me into thinking so. Your cute checklist is so obvious! Wise-beyond-her-years preteen, adorable musical moment, cute jobs (at a greeting card company, of all things), cute drunkeness, and Zooey Cute-chanel.

Now, all of this is not to say that the movie isn't often witty. It is sometimes well-written, and its stars are six kinds of awesome. My love of Joseph Gordon-Levitt is well-established at this point. And yes, there were several times I laughed out loud. Even during greeting card scenes.

But in order to fully examine what's wrong with this movie, we have to move on to the sexism. By which I mean, the deep-seated misogyny. The movie opens with three screens of white text on a plain black background: (1) The following is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental. (2) Especially you Jenny Beckman. (3) Bitch.

When I saw that, my stomach knotted up. Anything that followed, no matter how cute, was now tainted by this angry, gendered outburst. Later, during one of the late-relationship days (circa 280), Tom writes a greeting card that says: Roses are red, violets are blue, Fuck you, whore. Fuck you, whore. For the record, Summer has not cheated on Tom; the only thing she's done to warrant being called a whore is to be female and hurt Tom's feelings. There's just this deep undercurrent of misogyny throughout the film, and again, no matter how sweetly it's painted, how do you forget that? Even the final scene, which is obviously going to be about closure and moving on, seems pointedly designed to erase Summer as if she no longer deserves to exist.

So I dunno. Some people liked it. But if you're reading my reviews and going by my opinion, I have to tell you, Do Not See This Movie.

(Cross-post: Day 21)