Yeah, this was mostly extremely familiar territory. Normal and yet charming guy (with a generic, boring name like Tom) looking for love? Check. Pretty, quirky blue-eyed girl (whereas she has an exotic name like Summer) who likes the same bands? Check. Best friends who provide comic relief? Check. Indie Soundtrack? Check. Literary references? Check. Too-smart-for-their-age younger sibling? Check. Drunken Karaoke session? Check.
Gordon Levitt is really good as John Cusack and Zooey Deschanel’s big blue eyes do a great job here as well. I went back and forth on the writing. On the one hand, I loved the comedic bits in the film. I found myself laughing quite a bit and the movie is definitely quotable (Just someone with Brad Pitt’s face and Jesus’s abs; It’s love, not Santa Claus, the “named my cat after Springsteen” bit and several other lines I can’t recall right now.). And I’ve always wanted to play house inside an Ikea store.. so that was fun. Otoh, I thought Zooey’s character was really badly written. I hate evoking the MPDG tag but her character was so typically indie-film-quirky-heroine (but no, she’s different…her favorite Beatle is Ringo Starr ) that it really annoyed me. I understand that she’s supposed to be somewhat enigmatic but some of her actions remain incomprehensible right till the very end and I think that’s just lazy plotting frankly. Which seemed consistent with giving the little sister nothing to do except make pithy statements that provide lucidity to Tom and the friends don’t get to do much else either. That’s a relatively minor complaint compared to the rest frankly.
Secondly, the film’s numerous hipster references just bugged me after a while. And the quirkiness of adding music + animation + French film (where at least one scene looked totally like Le Bonheur to me) starring JGL and friends were fun in a way but don’t really add up to anything. It just felt like the director had all these ideas he thought were so cute and clever and he was too busy putting those in rather than really trying to elevate the character-development or the story above the predictable.
Incidentally, I didn’t get the scene where she starts crying at the end of The Graduate. That montage of scenes seemed like Tom looking back on the relationship and realizing that it wasn’t quite all butterflies and roses as he remembered it being… so we get the scene where she’s being (slightly) selfish and the not holding hands and so on and then the scene at The Graduate which didn’t quite fit in except for what happens after the movie at the cafe. Is it meant to imply that he doesn’t really understand her emotionally? Whatever. To me it seemed unnecessary. And at the end, she had to specify that she was reading Oscar Wilde when she met this other guy? Meh.
It’s not a terrible movie by any means but also not deserving of the adoration it received at my screening last night. The person sitting behind me seemed ecstatic that he had the same couch(or some other piece of furniture) as Tom does in the movie. It got a standing ovation!