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Tag Archives: Zooey Deschanel
“I’m not gay. I’m not anything yet.” Bart Simpson’s nerdly friend Martin said those words in a Season 16 episode and reminded us that the children of Springfield have had a surprisingly robust romantic life for a pack of eight-to-ten year olds. Very few cartoon characters age, and for most animated shows, that’s not much of a problem. But when the audience has been watching a show’s adventures for more than two decades and yet the characters technically haven’t aged a day, a certain disconnect develops.
That’s why it’s a little strange that the premise of The Simpsons Season 24 premiere, “Moonshine River,” is a wistful look back at Bart’s halcyon, prepubescent loves. We’ve seen the characters on The Simpsons have a sizable number of adventures and go through a healthy dose of character development in the 500+ episodes the show has aired so far. Yet the status quo is supposed to be roughly the same as when the series started.
Granted, the blink and you miss it cameos from Sarah Michelle Gellar (Gina from “The Wandering Juvie”), Natalie Portman (Darcy from “Little Big Girl”), Anne Hathaway (Jenny from “The Good, the Sad, and the Drugly”), and Sarah Silverman (Nikki from “Stealing First Base”) portend that this episode was not meant to be a particularly deep look back at Bart’s nascent yet prolific love life. But it’s still a bit odd to watch Bart reminisce about his collection of old flames as a wee fourth-grader.
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.