Although very much an indie film in look and feel, (500) Days of Summer was advertised like a mainstream film. At least in my market anyway, as I seemed to see trailers for this film every night when I’d watch Comedy Central. The odd thing, of course, ended up being that it only came to my town in a very brief showing so I never got to go see it anyway. Still, the film always stayed in the back of my mind as it looked like a very cute and quirky film and reviews of it were overwhelmingly positive as well. So once the Blu-ray finally hit I was eager to check it out…and not at all disappointed.
Boy meets girl. Boy falls in love. Girl doesn’t. Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment presents the critically acclaimed, offbeat romance that proves when it comes to love some people know nothing at all as (500) Days of Summer arrives on Blu-ray Disc (BD) and DVD. Zooey Deschanel (Yes Man) and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra) star in this quirky romantic comedy about love and fate, as a young greeting card writer (Gordon-Levitt) who is hopelessly, helplessly searching for the girl of his dreams… and his new co-worker, Summer Finn (Deschanel), may just be “the one.” But the 500 days of their offbeat relationship reveal (in no particular order) that the road to happiness can be unpredictable, uncontrollable — and unbelievably funny! From first time feature film director Marc Webb (Jesse McCartney: Up Close), the hilarious true-to-life film also stars Matthew Gray Gubler (Alvin and the Chipmunks) and Clark Gregg (“The New Adventures of Old Christine”) in a unique dissection of the uncertain and whimsical year-and-a-half of one young man’s no-holds-barred love affair, where he learns that love can be difficult, but it’s also by far the best thing life has to offer.
This film is a lot like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind in that it’s told in a non-linear fashion and is incredibly quirky. It’s not like Spotless Mind in that it doesn’t confuse the crap out of you and make your head hurt (although that movie did it in a good way…and I greatly enjoyed it all the more because of it), however, so it’s a lot more relatable and family friendly than that film was. Still, there’s a lot about this film that feels familiar; it’s not particularly an original tale in the story it attempts to tell, it just does it in a way that manages to feel fresh.
While the film could be considered a romantic comedy, it’s also a lot like…well, for lack of a better reference, it’s a lot like How I Met Your Mother. You may ask how that show isn’t a romantic comedy as well, but that series is more about the journey to find the woman of your dreams, which is kind of what (500) manages to go for as well, only it switches things up a bit more. It’s not your usual romantic comedy in that…well, I won’t spoil the ending for you but it’s definitely not really what you expected from the way the trailers portrayed it. Although whenever you look at Zooey Deschanel, you don’t really believe that the character she plays here (or anywhere, really) could actually be tied down to anything.
Speaking of Deschanel, the cast here really is fantastic. I’ve yet to see G.I. Joe so my opinion of Levitt as an actor hasn’t changed much since the last film I saw him in (which I think was The Lookout…which he was pretty fantastic in), but it doesn’t really matter as he has some wild range on him. I grew up watching him on 3rd Rock from the Sun and while he kind of disappeared for a few years there, he still remained in films for quite awhile. It was actually kind of weird because after I watched this film I watched 10 Things I Hate About You for the first time, which Levitt is also in. And now he kind of looks like Heath Ledger in a way, so that’s just doubly weird.
But I’m getting off track. The film here really just rests on the shoulders of Levitt and Deschanel and they handle each scene brilliantly. There are all the romantic couple staples, but the way the film progresses entirely out of order is just another appeal that it has to show off. I’ve no doubt it would have been as entertaining in order as well, but it just felt “right” for this kind of film. I’ll use the word “quirky” again only because it summarizes this film quite well and should give you a good idea of what audience you should belong to before stepping into this film.
While it’s not genre changing or mind blowing in any real specific regard, the film is still a Highly Recommended viewing. It’s just really well done and manages to leave you with warm fuzzies at the end. You’ll laugh, you’ll smile…and, well, not much else. But that’s really all you need in a film like this.
Fox puts (500) Days of Summer out on Blu-ray in a standard two-disc Elite Blu-ray case. The second disc, of course, is the digital copy and there are a trio of inserts inside to distract you while the Blu-ray loads up. One is the redemption code for the film, the other is an advertisement for Whip It, and another for some Hall & Oates CD and the soundtrack to (500).
Visually the AVC encoded (@33mbps) 1080p transfer is quite stunning. It’s a bit washed out and soft at times, but this is likely an intentional effect done to the transfer to help set the mood of the film. Color tones are strong, colors are great and black levels are solid. Everything about this transfer just looks fantastic in HD and the unique view of the city that Levitt’s character boasts about truly does look stunning in HD. While not the type of film you’d think would matter in HD, it really does look just amazing from start to finish.
The audio, a DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix, is not surprisingly subdued (it is a romantic comedy after all). It’s the soundtrack, as if often the case with these type of indie-style romantic comedies, that really shines in the surrounds, however, as it brings forth some genuinely fantastic sounding music in a terrific mix. It’s hardly something to bust out the surround sound system for, but it’s definitely a solid mix to play loud if you enjoy the music that this film presents to you.
Feature commentary with Director Marc Webb, Writer Michael Weber, Co-Writer Scott Neustadter and Actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Lost Days of Summer: Deleted and Extended Scenes With Optional Commentary by Director Marc Webb, Writer Michael Weber, Co-Writer Scott Neustadter and Actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt – (14:42, 1080i, 9 total scenes)
Not A Love Story – Making (500) Days of Summer – (29:21, 1080i)
Summer At Sundance – (13:46, 1080i)
Two Audition Tapes With Optional Commentary By Director Marc Webb – (7:01, SD, Geoffrey Arend and Matthew Gray Gubler)
Summer Storyboards – (3:31, SD, two sequences)
Bank Dance Directed By Marc Webb – (4:18, SD)
Mean’s Cinemash: “Sid and Nancy/(500) Days of Summer” – (3:28, 1080p)
Music Video: “Sweet Disposition” By Temper Trap – (4:01, SD)
Six Conversations With Zooey and Joseph – (12:26, SD)
Filmmaking Specials – (11:48, SD, four total)
I honestly was pretty surprised by the setup here. I know we’re used to hours and hours worth of extras now and award-winning documentaries…but for this type of film, what we get here is more than enough for me. The commentary is fantastic and all of the deleted scenes are well worth watching (not only because they’re in HD but also because they’re actually just unseen “days” that we didn’t see of their relationship…good stuff). The other featurettes are pretty straightforward in their production, but the cast, crew, and candid on-set moments you see are all well worth checking out if you enjoyed the film. The storyboards are a bit superfluous in a film like this, but still a cool addition nonetheless.
Overall a great A/V package, solid extras, and a very entertaining film. Hard to go wrong with this one. Recommended.
(500) Days of Summer is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.