Friday, July 24, 2009

Movie Time: Summer is Feminist!


I love the movies. All movies. Even completely unfeminist "chick flicks" that are convinced women can only be happy when men find them attractive and men can only be happy with women who are incredibly and conventionally beautiful.

Tired stereotypes and old cliches still seem to make studios the most comfortable and rightfully so as movies like The Proposal and He's Just Not That Into You are consistent box office hits. While I admittedly see these movies and enjoy the experience of the theater and the Junior Mints I purchase, I can never rid myself of the nagging sense that the experiences being lived out on the screen are just not real.

Growing up in a US where the divorce rate seems to rise by the minute and my young The Little Mermaid viewings were immediately followed by lectures from my wonderful feminist mother about the unrealistic nature of Ariel and Eric's story, I am unable to accept the fairytale love that summer romances try to convince us exists.

Thankfully, our generation proved with the success of unconventional movies like Juno that young people today accept less escapist/romantic fairy tales and want more realistic versions of young love.

Hollywood has responded with the charming (500) Days of Summer.

(500) Days of Summer announces from the get go that "THIS IS NOT A LOVE STORY". The basic premise is Tom Hansen (Joseph Gordon-Levitt 10 Things I Hate About You) meets Summer Finn (Zooey Deschanel) and is convinced he has found THE ONE. From the beginning the idea that men hide from commitment while women run to it is turned on its head with the commitment phobic personality of Summer and the one true love mantra of Tom.

Summer's character is everything women in most romantic comedies are not. Her top priority is not her love life. She does not go through some sort of makeover transformation. She does not swoon when men fight over her. She makes the first move without thinking twice. She does not engage in woman on woman competition or embrace jealously. She does not have to chose between her romance and her career, smarts, friends, or family.

Finally, my personally favorite, Summer does what no women of summer romances are ever allowed to do...She breaks up with the boyfriend and does not regret it (even Kathrine Heigl was not allowed to break up with the ridiculous Seth Rogan in Knocked Up). Summer is the first female lead I have seen who ends the relationship with the male lead and is not ultimately portrayed as the villain (ie Slut, bitch, uptight, too career driven...).

(500) Days of Summer explores a realistic and relatable relationship. Summer and Tom both turn stereotypes and cliches for "rom-coms" on their heads without being pretentious. While the film is not perfect and holds a fair amount of anti-woman rhetoric (Tom's little sister advises him "not to be a pussy" when interacting with Summer... REALLY? a little girl would relate acting like a girl to acting stupidly? I don't think so...) overall the movie is on point and a very enjoyable watch.

(500) Days of Summer is a truly refreshing take on the typical summer romantic comedy and definitely worth a trip to the movies (with a box of Junior Mints of course). Also get ready for an amazing dance number involving Joseph Gordon-Levitt, a cartoon bird, and Hall and Oates's "You Make My Dreams Come True" (I swear!). I will definitely be seeing this movie two or three more times just to dance in the isle with fellow movie goers... an inevitable side affect of the film and Gordon-Levitt's amazing dance moves.

picture courtsy of


Emily said...

Yes! I loved this movie, and I feel like a lot of feminist bloggers were quick to criticize it before it even came out because Summer is a bit of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl (,2407/), but it was so refreshing to see a romantic film where the woman was not desperate to get a man. It just made me happy.

Bianca Reagan said...

I criticized it after I saw it. I wanted to like the movie, but the inherent misogyny bothered me.