500 Days of Love and Heartache

Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Zooey Deschanel and Director Marc Webb in Fox Searchlight Pictures' 500 Days of Summer (2009). Fox Searchlight Pictures

The summer movie season often marks a period filled with obligatory Hollywood blockbusters and conventional comedies, but a new film recently released to theaters this season, "500 Days of Summer," stands apart from the mix.

Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt ("3rd Rock from the Sun") and Zooey Deschanel ("Elf"), the film takes a unique approach with by-now familiar subject matter often depicted by Hollywood. Exploring 500 days of a relationship between a young man and his female companion named Summer, this independent romantic comedy is told outside of chronological order, as many relationships are not remembered in a linear fashion.

The filmmakers, director Marc Webb and screenwriters Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, recently told CBS News about this unconventional form of storytelling.

"'500 Days of Summer' is kind of like boy-meets-girl-meets-'Memento'," Neustadter said.

"It's true," Weber agreed, "But we were probably more influenced by the John Hughes films."

But the screenwriters were quick to reinforce their determination to create a film totally unique from past standards.

"We all got so fed up with Hollywood romantic comedies ... We felt that these movies were pandering to their audiences and insincere," Weber said.

The film focuses on a greeting cards copy writer, Tom (Gordon-Levitt), who becomes enamored with a quirky office assistant, Summer (Deschanel). After the initial euphoria of their meeting and subsequent first dates, the "honeymoon" soon wears off, as the film explores Tom's inability to accept the reality of the attachment issues he faces.

Director Webb, originally a music video director who has worked with various artists ranging from Green Day to Jesse McCartney, said that the audiences' ability to relate to Tom's struggle was very important to him while on set. "Here's a secret weapon to this film ... Everybody has been in Tom's shoes," he said.

Perhaps it is fitting that this filmmaker was chosen for this project, as he himself, along with the screenwriters, also fit well with the quirkiness of the characters onscreen. Webb, for example, offered blueberries to journalists during the promotional press day for the film. The screenwriters also exhibit the same traits which embody a new generation of filmmakers who wish to experiment and explore modern styles.

But now, to the surprise and delight of the three filmmakers, "500 Days of Summer" has been well-received, with a warm welcome at this year's Sundance Film Festival combined with high praise from critics. In fact, a unique situation now arises when they show the film to viewers, especially males.

"Now, after screenings, people actually come up to us and ask us for dating advice," Neustadter said. This will likely continue as the film continues to grow by word-of-mouth. Both screenwriters said they were surprised by this, but Webb offered his thoughts behind the steady success of the film.

"There's really not a lot of relationship-movies out there which are told from the guy's point of view," Webb noted.

Finally, a romantic comedy which even male theatergoers can enjoy.

"500 Days of Summer" is now playing in limited release.
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    Ken Lombardi is an entertainment reporter for CBS News. He has interviewed over 300 celebrities, including Clint Eastwood, Oprah Winfrey and Tom Hanks.

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