At last, a cringe-proof romantic comedy
January 16, 2009
Marc Webb hates romantic comedies.
When he received the script for "500 Days of Summer," he stuffed it in his backpack and didn’t read it for months. True to the genre, by the time he read the script and fell in love with the project, it was almost too late. Webb had to undergo rigorous interviews with the producers and the production company to direct the film.
Also true to the genre, everything worked out in the end.
"I find romantic comedies profoundly unappealing," Webb said. "I could tell the writers felt the same way I did. It was romance inside a cynical heart."
He likened reading the script to "seeing a really cute girl."
The film gets its title from its lead female character, played by Zoey Deschanel and while its themes may be common, some of its modes of storytelling are new. Audiences delve deep into the psyche of the hapless guy named Tom, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who falls for Summer. The film includes split screens and dance numbers that express Tom’s feelings more generously than the situation permits.
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Webb jumped at the chance to tell a love story that didn’t stick to the surface-level fizz and bubble of infatuation. "It gives you the chance to create scenes of whimsy rather than reality," he said. "We all have this secret love, this secret hope, for romantic comedies."
Webb shot the film in 20 days in Los Angeles. He said too many romantic comedies released today are a "facsimile of a facsimile of a Billy Wilder movie." Instead, "500 Days of Summer" addresses the casual approach to dating common in the last year of the first decade of the century.
The film doesn’t use a high-concept or gimmick to pit the two office mates against each other. "Love is complex and dramatic and stands on its own right. We build the drama and comedy from that."