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Monthly Archives: June 2011
500 Days of Summer neither captivated me nor bored me. It just sort of drifted listlessly forward, occasionally bumping into clichés, sometimes managing to subvert them, but mostly just letting the romantic comedy current carry it along. In many ways it shared the characteristics of its female lead – quirky enough to pique your interest, but without a great deal of substance beneath the carefree, offbeat exterior.
That isn’t to say the movie does not have its strong points. I am a sucker for non-linear editing, and this movie employed it admirably. The countdown clock that jumped back and forth showing us where exactly where we were in the timeline was a nice addition, and it helped to perfectly line up some of the film’s well-crafted echoes. The expectation/reality split screen is a particular creative touch, and one I expect to be both emulated and parodied by future works. Both Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel performed their roles well. And hey (minor spoiler alert) the fact that the main couple does not end up together – though it’s been done before – is almost always a plus in films trying to turn the romantic comedy formula on its head.
At the same time, much of this original or unusual framing in the film felt fairly gimmicky, without much substance to back it up. No, the movie did not follow the usual romantic comedy formula, but it didn’t truly innovate much either. It takes more than a dose of bittersweet and inventive editing to truly subvert the usual and expected when it comes to a boy-meets-girl story. Summer Finn may be “just a phase,” but she also feels like a walking trope adorned with a few shiny ornaments to distract you from that fact. The entire film seems aimed at picking out as many tricks as possible to cloak its fairly run-of-the-mill tale in the guise of something greater.
Cars is easily Pixar’s most poorly-received film. The movie, featuring a world of anthropomorphic automobiles, completely rankled fans of the studio. These detractors view Cars as a rare misstep amidst Pixar’s otherwise unblemished offerings. While movies like A Bug’s Life may have underwhelmed, and those like Ratatouille flown under the radar, no Pixar film has engendered as strong a negative response from the faithful as Cars. With a sequel coming out soon, these doubters have renewed and redoubled their critiques.
Personally, I generally enjoyed the film as a bit of harmless popcorn entertainment, and I believe that Pixar is, in many ways, a victim of its own success. The studio has a remarkable track record of releasing uniformly outstanding feature films, from its initial offering of Toy Story to classics like Finding Nemo to recent triumphs like Up. When held up against these lofty brethren, Cars status as merely “pretty good,” makes it seem overly lacking by comparison. It’s a solid, but unspectacular film, doomed by the company it keeps.