Being different doesn't automatically make a movie good but it can make it more interesting than the norm which is what I would say "500 Days of Summer" is. Here we have a romantic comedy which isn't you're run of the mill romantic comedy, it's a love story whilst also not being a love story and whilst delivering a happy ever after ending doesn't deliver the happy ever after ending you expect. Basically "500 Days of Summer" tries to be different and quirky and it succeeds, delivering a romantic comedy unlike your normal romantic comedy. And to be honest it's all very entertaining with some nice performances from Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt but it's not great or at least as great as some have proclaimed it to be.
Tom Hansen (Joseph Gordon-Levitt - 10 Things I Hate About You) is a romantic he is looking for the one and the one might just be Summer Finn (Zooey Deschanel - Yes Man), the new girl who works for the same greeting cards company as him. But whilst Tom has these notions about love Summer doesn't always share them but still they end up together, well at least for a time. Depressed when it's all over Tom looks back at what may have gone wrong whilst also trying to move forward.
Early on in "500 Days of Summer" we are told "This is a story of boy meets girl, but you should know upfront, this is not a love story" and in a way that's right. What we have is two stories basically running in tandem, you have the story of Tom falling for Summer and then at the same time you have the story of Tom moving on from being dumped by Summer. They run in tandem flicking between the various days in their relationship so you go from Tom meeting Summer and feeling attracted then him feeling depressed following being dumped. It's different and it makes it a lot more interesting because you go from romantic fun to the comedy of Tom feeling fed up, something not ideal for a writer of Greeting cards.
But this isn't just throw away comedy because there is a beautiful realism which lies behind the comedy, the nervousness of Tom trying to ask Summer out, the despair he feels when she ends it, this is all real stuff just delivered in an amusing way. It does make "500 Days of Summer" far more interesting than your normal romantic fairytale whose grasp on reality is weak at best. And because it's more real you actually find yourself connecting with Tom because you know what he is going through, the despair and not understanding why, the fall into morbid depression following being dumped its amusingly believable.
But that is just one of the strengths of "500 Days of Summer" and the other is that it doesn't pander to being an uplifting fairytale in fact it uses your mainstream romantic comedy as cannon fodder. There is a peach of a scene after Tom and Summer spend their first night together and you watch Tom walking down the street with a huge grin on his face greeting all he meets till it becomes a song and dance routine. It's cheesy but takes the piss out of mainstay romantic comedies magnificently yet still feels kind of right in what is a quirky movie.
The quirky side of "500 Days of Summer" is helped by the spot on casting of Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel who not only excel at delivering the quirky humour but also the more realistic romantic side. Right from the start you warm to Tom because Gordon-Levitt makes him a nice bloke, not a sap but someone who believes in romantic destiny whilst Deschanel is just as loveable as the kooky Summer. Unlike so many romantic comedies there is a spark between them and you do believe that not only do they fall in love but when it is over Tom is heart broken. It's partly down to Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel that "500 Days of Summer" comes off as being more than just quirky.
But here is the thing as whilst I like the quirky, I like the different romantic tale and I like the underlying level of realism to the comedy there is something which is missing and that is being memorable. Oh "500 Days of Summer" is certainly more memorable than your normal routine romantic comedy but there is something missing which stops it from becoming great. I can't put my finger on it, maybe it's a little too quirky, maybe it seems to take longer than necessary in certain areas, maybe the ending whilst different is also normal, watch it you will see what I mean. There is just something which stops "500 Days of Summer" from being a movie you will have warm memories of in say a year or two's time.
What this all boils down to is that "500 Days of Summer" is fun, it is different and it certainly works. There is in fact little wrong with it and makes a very pleasant change from your normal romantic comedy especially with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel delivering both quirky and realistic performances.