Movie review: (500) Days of Summer

08/13/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The summer in the title of Marc Webb's (500) Days of Summer refers not to the season but to a girl, named Summer and played by Zooey Deschanel.

The number in the title refers to the length of time between the day the film's hero, a likable guy named Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), first spots Summer and the day he sees her for the last time and seemingly flushes her out of his system.

In between? It's a bumpy ride -- at least for Tom -- and an enjoyable mix of the ecstatic and the heartsick for the audience. Marc Webb's film -- from a script by Scott Neustadter and Michael Weber -- is pleasingly offbeat, if inconsistently quirky, as it bounces through time, forward and backward, in the life of this doomed relationship.

That's giving nothing away; Webb uses title cards showing which day of the relationship we're about to see and, within the first 10 minutes, has taken us from a scene of romantic happiness to a moment in which a highly distraught Tom is breaking all his dishes and has to be talked down by his calmer, saner young sister (Chloe Moretz). And so it goes -- a day or two during the uncertain early days, a downbeat scene from the pre-breakup period (she knows, he doesn't), a ray of sunshine during the sweet time when their feelings are strongest and most in synch.

If there's a problem with this device, it's that Webb abandons it about halfway through the film. Yes, some may find it too cute, too clever, too whatever -- but if you're going to toss it in, then commit to it. Don't just discard it to get on with a more linear kind of story-telling.

That's a minor caveat, however, in a film that has a lot of heart -- not to mention heartache of the post-adolescent obsessive romantic.

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