500 Days of Summer (2009)

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The guy who made it was called Marc Webb. His next movie was The Amazing Spider-Man. I’m not making that up. Really, look it up.

Monkey status: There is one ape featured in this film

This film was one of those romantic comedies that critics acclaimed as a romantic comedy that deconstructed romantic comedy, like When Harry met Sally and Annie Hall. But at the end of the day those films are still just rom-coms. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, actually. I forget my point.

OK the point was that I remembered seeing this film when it came out and I had this distinct memory of Joseph Gordon-Levitt riding a bike around anempty downtown Los Angeles at night with a little rhesus monkey poking its head out of the basket like a furry ET. So of course I had to go back and verify the memory.

I don’t know what movie I was watching in 2009 but it definitely wasn’t this one. JGL’s bike doesn’t even have a carrier basket in this film!

This film has a lot of Regina Spektor music and conversations about greeting cards that I didn’t really understand. It doesn’t have many monkeys. They could have included a scene between Tom and Summer where they go on a date to the zoo or something, it wouldn’t even have seemed shoehorned!

Actually, on that note – the characters are seen watching The Graduate, a movie which contains a scene identical to the one I just described. We could have watched Tom and Summer watching a movie with a monkey in it. That would have been several levels of monkey-ness.

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Tom and Summer presumable watching Dunston Checks In judging by the looks of glee on their faces

So I watched the credits roll with a sinking feeling. My mind seemed to have artificially inserted a monkey into my memory of a film again. It seems to be happening more and more these days.

I wasn’t going to accept that grim reality just yet, though. I rewound right back to the start and sat through the film’s 95 minute runtime again. And again. And again. Until the sun was peeking in between my banana print curtains.

It was mid-afternoon before I hit paydirt.

Tom is hanging out with his friends Paul and McKenzie at a cafe cum arcade somewhere in Los Angeles. They are lounging over an old table-style arcade machine with coffees in their hands, talking about Tom’s crush on Summer. I sat there with my eyes glazed over watching this scene for the umpteenth time, despair beginning to ensnare my heart in her cold tendrils.

And then I heard it – if you listen to the background noises beneath the banal dialogue spouted by Tom and his co-workers, you’ll hear it, too:

The arcade machine that Tom and his friends are hanging out over is Nintendo’s 1981 classic, Donkey Kong. The game is famous for being the first ever appearance of Mario, Nintendo’s flagship character. But the antagonist and titular character of the game is what interested me.

Donkey Kong is a giant gorilla wearing a red necktie and nothing else. He was based in part on King Kong and Bluto from Popeye, and he is undoubtedly, incontrovertibly, undebateably, a non-human primate.

So it just goes to show. Never stop looking for the monkey in the movie. He may be hiding, but he will reveal himself to you if have the patience and the wherewithal to keep your vigil as long as it takes. Now I need some sleep.

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