500 Days of Summer (Blu-ray)
Much like Summer (Zooey Deschanel) is reluctant to ever put a label on the relationship she has with Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), I’m reluctant to put a label on 500 DAYS OF SUMMER. It’s not a comedy, but it does have some humorous moments. It’s not a drama, but it has dramatic elements. If I have to give it a label, I’m going to call it a romantic dramedy. Yes, I just made that up, but this film doesn’t fit a mold of any particular genre, which is one of the many things that makes this a wonderful film.
Simply put, this film is about the 500 day-long relationship that Tom and Summer have. Like the announcer makes clear in the beginning; this is not a love story. If you want Sandra Bullock to realize she loves her crazy boss, then go rent a standard Hollywood rom-com. But if you’ve been wanting a film that explores the male-female relationship from multiple points of view with varying degrees of insight, then this will be a refreshing film for you.
This film, more than any other film I’ve seen, captures a true fact of human relationships, which is that when the relationship is good, it’s really good. But when the relationship is bad, it’s horrible. There’s a correlation there somewhere, but the idea the film portrays is that the more power you give someone to make you happy, the more risk you give that person to make you miserable. That’s the lesson that Tom has to learn throughout the film. Most of us have been in a relationship like that and what we think about it now is greatly dependent on how we choose to remember it (another lesson Tom learns).
Summer was a tough character to pull off given the fact that the film is very sympathetic to Tom. There’s a fine line between understanding her and hating her, but Zooey Deschanel was a perfect choice to pull it off. She’s naturally very likable and we as an audience are willing to give her the benefit of the doubt. Her cuteness and charm prevent us from ever hating her and therefore enough time passes for us to realize her actions were not malicious, they were just different from what our hero wanted.
What’s surprising about this film is the sheer number of “lessons” we watch Tom learn during the course of the relationship. Most films are lucky to provide a single insight into the modern relationship, but this film managed to give us multiple revelations that we haven’t seen before. Perhaps the most important lesson (and the one that is the hardest to learn) is that sometimes you need the help of someone else to allow you to grow as a person in order to be ready for when you finally meet someone special.
Commentary with Marc Webb, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber: I have a feeling that with the large fan base this film has acquired since its theatrical release, this commentary is going to go over really well. It’s an in-depth, fascinating commentary with wonderful comments about the film and the various aspects of making the film. I was concerned with having four people at the same time, and aside from confusing the voices, it was fine. Everyone had something to say and I was interested in most of what they said.
Lost Days of Summer: Deleted and Extended Scenes (14:42): Let me first say that all of these deserved to be cut. With that said, all of these were interesting. We got more of the interviews at the end and even an added character with Tom’s mother. With the extended scenes, most were minor changes, but again, the original scenes in the film were better. The highlight of the bunch was the “alternate” dance number, set to the same song, but this time much later in the relationship.
Bank Dance, Directed by Marc Webb (4:18): This is an entire musical number set to She & Him’s ‘Why Do You Let Me Stay Here’. She & Him, in case you don’t know, is Zooey Deschanel’s folk band.
Mean’s Cinemash: “Sid and Nancy/500 Days of Summer (3:28): Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt act out a couple of scenes from SID AND NANCY. The funny thing is that they switched gender roles, and “mashed” the film with 500 DAYS OF SUMMER; definitely an acquired taste.
Not a Love Story: Making-of Featurette (29:21): All of these are basically the same in that the filmmakers and various people involved discuss in general terms the merits of the film. But this one was enjoyable and most of the people involved opened up about the film and their involvement. In a slight change of pace, the people I enjoyed hearing from were the producers, Mark Waters and Jessica Tuchinsky and writers Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber. They talked a lot about where the story came from and how it came to be.
Conversations with Zooey and Joseph (12:26): Actors talking about acting can be mind-numbing, but these two keep it light and interesting while talking about the movie or their takes on acting. Seeing them discuss things together is much better than having them answering questions from a reporter. If you’re a fan of either of these actors, you’ll enjoy this.
Summer @ Sundance (13:46): It’s exactly what it says it is; a short featurette that follows the crew at the Sundance film festival. If you’re not familiar with the festival, or what it’s about, then this would be nice for you. I’ve heard most of this before (every small film goes to Sundance), so it wasn’t anything new.
Audition Tapes (6:01): Here we get two audition tapes from Matthew Gray Gubler (Paul) and Geoffrey Arend (McKenzie), who played Tom’s friends in the film. Both of them replicated their characters in the film pretty well, but audition tapes aren’t really my thing.
Filmmaking Specials (11:37): This is a giant hodgepodge of mini-featurettes that don’t fit in with anything else. I put the combined times, but the downside is that you don’t have the option to watch them all at once. You have to select each one individually, which is frustrating when the longest one is just over 3 minutes. Not all of them are interesting, but I was fascinated when Marc Webb talked about the color palettes in the film. Basically, he didn’t use primary colors and made a point to use blue whenever Summer was around.