Can there be a thing as too much cute? This is the dilemma for Summer (also the name of Zooey Deschanel's scary-adorable character), which plunges us with twee abandon into a relationship gone bad. The comedy unfolds entirely from the perspective of Tom (the winningly bewildered Joseph Gordon-Levitt), who tries to figure out why the girl of his dreams has dumped him. His inquest is aided by two wacky pals, his preciously wise preteen sister, a basso-voiced NFL-style narrator, and the movie's date-clicker device, which spins us (and Tom) back and forth during his 500-day period of romance-and-recovery. It's all a bit much. I laughed consistently, but the quality of those laughs wore thin. The movie is so closely edited, so proud of its wit, that it's like an entire season of Friends packed into 96 minutes. Moreover, Tom must be a sweater-vest-and-tie-wearing kind of a guy, who writes copy for a greeting-card company. This means that his Summer crisis must also result in a professional crisis. He must rediscover the artist (well, architect) within! The movie's in no way bad; it's just trying way too hard, frequently slipping from funny to glib and back within the same scene. And the leads are both charmers. It's not their fault that the movie—which deserves to be a minor hit—often feels like an indie sitcom pilot.
Our favorite couple of July: Gordon-Levitt and Deschanel.
Opens at Guild 45 and Lincoln Square, Fri., July 17. Rated PG-13. 96 minutes.Read our SIFF interview with director Marc Webb.