(500) Days of Summer

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"This is a story of Boy Meets Girl, but you should know up front, this is not a love story."


(500) Days of Summer is a 2009 independent Romantic Comedy starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel.

Tom Hansen works as a writer for a greeting-card company; Summer Finn is a quirky young woman hired as his boss's assistant. Tom, a hopeless romantic, immediately falls for her; Summer doesn't believe in true love, and isn't looking for a relationship. They quickly become more than just friends, but while Summer doesn't consider their affair to be serious, Tom believes she's "the one", and wants something more. The film takes a look at their quasi-relationship from Tom's perspective, numbering the days and events that lead to its buildup and eventual downfall.

Directed by Marc Webb (from a script by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber), the film has been praised by critics for eschewing romantic comedy cliches. Instead, it portrays the highs and lows (mostly lows) of a modern relationship and the fractured way in which we remember them.

Tropes used in (500) Days of Summer include:
  • Adorkable: Tom. He's awkward and silly, but you can't help but love him. Rachel thinks he's a bit of a nerd.

Rachel: Just because some cute girl likes all the same bizarro crap you do doesn't mean she's your soulmate.

  • Anachronic Order: The film begins on Day 488 and then jumps around among the 500 days as Tom (through the Narrator) recalls them.
  • Better Than a Bare Bulb
  • Bigger Is Better in Bed: In the case of one of Summer's ex boyfriends, whose name is Puma.
  • Bi the Way: Summer talks about her exes, including Charlie. "She was nice."
  • Blind Date: Tom goes on one with another, unnamed girl after Summer dumps him; as he's still too distraught to do anything but talk about their breakup, it doesn't go well.
  • Book Ends: Day 488.
  • Boy Meets Girl: To quote the Narrator: "This is a story of Boy Meets Girl." Deconstructed.
  • Brick Joke: The Graduate.
  • Color Failure
  • Comically Missing the Point: Tom completely misinterpreted the ending of The Graduate as a child, contributing to his tendency to romanticize relationships as an adult.
    • It's shown fairly evidently in the script, where it is shown that after his college girlfriend (briefly mentioned in the film) broke up with him in a flashback by using a song he showed her as a metaphor (skipping the song that she used to like), Tom misinterprets it and tells her it's a "fucking good song."
  • Cool Big Sis: Technically, she's a Cool Little Sis, but she sure does not sound or behave like a kid.
  • Creator Breakdown: In-universe example; Tom writes increasingly caustic and inappropriately cynical greeting card messages as his relationship with Summer deteriorates.
    • "Roses are red, violets are blue, fuck you, whore."
  • Crowd Song: A Crowd Dance, to be more accurate, since the characters onscreen are not the ones singing: the morning after Tom and Summer spend their first night together, Tom giddily struts down the streets of L.A., where he is joined by a crowd of dancers, a marching band, and animated birds, all set to Hall and Oates' "You Make My Dreams".
  • Deconstruction:
    • Deconstructs traditional "happily ever after" endings of most romantic comedies.
    • It's also the first real cinematic Deconstruction of Garden State-style quirky indie romances.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: The audience knows this from the start.
  • Did You Just Have Sex?: One of Tom's friends asks him this, not realizing that Summer is in the other room, listening.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: After Tom discovers that Summer's marrying someone else.
  • Emotionless Girl: How the Narrator introduces us to Summer. Probably evidence that he's an Unreliable Narrator.
  • The Faceless: Summer's Husband.
  • Foregone Conclusion: The Narrator tells us right near the start, "This is a story of Boy Meets Girl. But you should know up front, this is not a love story."
  • Fourth Date Marriage: The entire story, including Tom's post-break-up depression, takes place over a little less than a year and a half. Consider how Summer spends less than half that time (Days 288-500). Most couples spend more time between the engagement and the wedding than Summer took meeting a total stranger and getting married to him. Including Millie.
  • Freudian Excuse: According to the Narrator, Summer's parents' divorce when she was young is the reason she's become an Emotionless Girl, unable to form any permanent attachments. But see also Unreliable Narrator.
  • Freudian Slip: Zooey Summer fakes one in order to gently tease Tom and to let him know that she overheard the Did You Just Have Sex? conversation between him and his friend.
  • Genre Savvy: Most of the characters—except when they're Wrong Genre Savvy.
  • Here We Go Again: Tom meets a new girl at a job interview. Her name? Autumn. Day 1.
  • Heroic BSOD: Tom's response upon learning that Summer has gotten engaged to someone else.
  • Hollywood California: Set in Los Angeles; Tom, having trained as an architect, takes Summer on a tour of his favorite architectural sites around the city.
  • Hollywood Tone Deaf: Characters sing in a karaoke bar at a few different points in the movie, and their supposedly awful efforts are played for laughs, but they aren't actually that bad. Doesn't hurt that Zooey is an indie singer in real life. Seriously, go watch the cotton ad she was in.
  • Homage: Specific scenes from Children of Paradise, Persona, The Seventh Seal, and The Graduate. More generally, the films of Woody Allen, especially Annie Hall.
  • How We Got Here: The first day of Tom and Summer's relationship we see is Day 488, near the end of it -- in fact, exactly two hundred days after she dumped him, and several days after she married someone else. The rest of the movie jumps back and forth through the five hundred days to explain How We Got Here.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Incessant.

Summer: All we do is argue.
Tom: That's bullshit!

"Yes, Summer has elements of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl -- she is an immature view of a woman. She's Tom's view of a woman. He doesn't see her complexity and the consequence for him is heartbreak. In Tom's eyes, Summer is perfection, but perfection has no depth. Summer's not a girl, she's a phase."

Summer: "They used to call me Anal Girl."
*Tom spit-takes*
Summer: "...I was very neat and organized."