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Tag Archives: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Someday, The Simpsons is going to end.
As a diehard fan, even one who has some significant misgivings about the current state of the show, that’s a tough pill to swallow. The Simpsons has been on as long as I’ve been watching television. Even at its lowest lows, it’s been the small screen version of comfort food for me, and sooner or later our favorite family will sign off for the last time.
If show runner Al Jean is to be believed, that might not be for another twenty-five years. Still, the day is going to come, and I think it’s close on the horizon. With the recent contract negotiation, standoff, and finally renewal through Season 25, the end of the show appears to be on the minds of those who work on and produce it. Whether it’s threats to pull the plug in order to prompt salary cuts or requests for a share in the back end profits of the show, those involved seem to have a not-too-distant endpoint in mind.
This begs the question – how do you end a show that will have been on television for a quarter of a century and produced more than five-hundred episodes? How do you sum up, honor, and conclude twenty-five years worth of adventures? It’s a tall order to say the least.
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.