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(500) Days of Summer

A 2009 romantic comedy film starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel

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500 Days - Worth most of the 95 minutes

  • Aug 24, 2009
  • by
Much like the complicated relationship on display in this film, I had things that I loved and things that I could do without.  I liked the movie...I thought it was pretty good.  It might be that it didn't live up to the hype that I had been subjected to hearing.  Anyway, let's dive in

"You should know up front, this is not a love story"

The trailer tells it like it is.  You will not see a typical "boy meets girl" Hollywood love story.  On some levels, the characters are a perfect match, but underneath they are so vastly different that they are doomed.  In a brilliant polar shift, they swap perspectives, but tragically, still different.

The storytelling employs a nice technique.  We see the story from a fragmented and scrambled time-line and it actually works well.  This technique is a highlight of the film.  I didn't leave saying "what the *&(% was going" on like I did with Memento.  Because of the use of time shifting, we get to see how the status of a relationship can alter very similar situations.  Brilliant.

The Boy and the Girl he meets.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Tom.  Tom is a bit awkward and lacks some confidence, but he is a romantic optimist and believes in his "soul mate" and that gives him strength he needs to interact with a woman who is seemingly out of his league.  Tom is played quite well by Joseph and his subtleties in performance suit the character well.

Zooey Deschanel plays Summer.  She is, in a word...intoxicating...with her charisma and charm.  Cool and popular seem to ooze from her pores.  I was thoroughly impressed with Zooey's performance and although she is an attractive young woman you are drawn to her speaking cadence and mannerisms and the "it" that popular girls (and movie stars) have.  She is obviously the object of desire without needing to resort to overt sexuality in either dialogue or wardrobe.

My only quip is that the film didn't seem to trust the acting.  They did what my friend Lisa is teaching me to despise; they "told" what was already being "shown".  Lisa tells me to "show not tell" in my writing and she's made me a convert.  Don't tell us via a narrator that Summer is a special girl that turns heads...just show us.  Some of this part of the film is clever and funny, but I think it could have been more "show" than "tell" and been as effective.


At some points, I think the movie tries too hard to be "cool".  One scene that particularly annoyed me is when Tom is happy and in a celebratory mood and is walking down the street.  All of sudden strangers are congratulating him and low and behold - they start a Bollywood style dance.  There is even an animated bird to add just another layer of cheese.  It goes on too long and doesn't seem to fit.

There are other movie genre gags that really only serve to interrupt the great flow of the film that could have stood stronger on it's own story and acting.

The film did use a really strong tactic.  At one point the filmmaker used a split screen and labeled the two sides "Expectation" and "Reality".  This worked to perfection and not only told the story in a unique way, but it made you really feel for Tom to see his expectation next to the reality of the situation.  We've all felt that separation, and it may touch you to see them both played out in real time side-by-side....it did that to me.


Though this is not a perfect film, there are many great things to love.  Sometimes in the pursuit of love you have to ignore the flaws...even significant ones.  That is my advice to you with this film.  Go and see it because there are moments and performances worth seeing.  Go see it because this is a great story about love that isn't a love story.  Go see it and expect that like love there are ups and downs.

EDIT (New Bonus Material)

I can't believe that I forgot to mention the worst part of this movie...the part that makes me sad for television and movies in general.  I know product placement is important with budgets and Tivo skipping commercials, but this movie took it to a new level.  They had what I would like to say is an extended IKEA commercial.  They run through, they play house, they cuddle on the bed, they make jokes about the facade sets (we get it, the faucets and TV's don't work).  At the end of one of the scenes, they even leave the camera for a few seconds on some in-store promotional signage.  It wasn't even veiled.  BLAH!  

What did you think of this review?

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May 08, 2010
Fantastic review, Jeff! I just wrote one on the movie too if you want to read it. I would love your input. You can find it here. :)
December 02, 2009
I had high expectations of this film and was subsequently disappointed that it didn't meet them. I am a romantic and love a love story, so when it states that its not a love story - I think its wrong. It is a love story even if it is one of unrequited love. I would like to see a love story that is able to show love but without being predictable and in being unpredictable to not be a predictable unpredictable take on the story. I hope that makes sense. having said that, after reading your review I have decided to have a watch it again to see if I was blinded by my disappointment. Thanks
October 12, 2009
I have been thinking of watching this film, it sounds really great. Thanks for posting this review its so through!.
October 01, 2009
Interesting breakdown on the film. Although I'm seeing far more romantic comedies than I ever would have thought possible when I was younger, I have to admit that the American variety isn't quite my taste. I like the fact that this flick is trying to get out of the mold a bit and try different things. That makes some big points with me. The attempt at Bollywood dance wouldn't have bothered me at all either--unless they botched it badly. You really have to have everyone singing too in order to have it work right. =)
October 12, 2009
QB - I hope you will see this film and let me know what you think. The Bollywood dance wouldn't have bothered me much either, but I think it went on too long and didn't seem to "fit". The IKEA informercial...I mean product placement was what really got me and yet, I still enjoyed.
October 12, 2009
I'll see it eventually but American made films aren't usually high on my list anymore, alhugh since this one does try to add a Bollywood element to it I might make an exception. The product placement on the other hand, does bother me a bit. A bit too blatent--though I did see Shah Rukh Khan taking a swig off a very prominently labeled can of Pepsi recently...
September 02, 2009
Ew product placement....blech kind of like what Michael does to Lelaina's movie in Reality Bites? So, you're saying this is for the Netflix cue....
October 12, 2009
Well...I would put it in my Blockbuster By Mail cue myself, but if Netflix is your thang then that'll work too. :)
November 07, 2009
alright Jeff, you've got me curious - what don't you like about Netflix?! BTW nice review! I'll never see this movie because I sort of abhor Zooey Deschanel, but I thought your review was great :)
November 07, 2009
Thanks Melissa. I'm not a Netflix hater...I'm just a Blockbuster customer so I wanted to be precise! :)
August 29, 2009
Nice review. Don't go to too many movies these days but I was considering this one. Despite the flaws you have pointed out so eloquently this one might be something I would enjoy.
August 29, 2009
Thanks! Like I said there are definitely flaws in my mind, though I talked with someone yesterday who liked the sequence with the dancing so it may strike a different chord with different people. Let me know what you think if you see it.
August 24, 2009
arg...how could I forget to mention the product placement played out in infomercial form??? Oh well, that's what the EDIT button is for.
August 24, 2009
Really nice Review! I have never thought about the concept of "show and tell" but I totally see what you mean. It is so much more effective to let the "show" do the talking. Since you are a discerning movie fan, I was wondering if you have seen the Big Picture with Kevin Bacon? I saw it again last night on cable after having forgotten about it years ago. Really funny.
August 29, 2009
Thanks! I have not seen "Big Picture", but I will put it on my list. I'm not so sure about the "discerning" part, but I'm learning to describe what I like and don't like. :)
October 01, 2009
You'd like it, I think. It's one of my favorites but it's not easy to find a copy if you're looking to buy. It can be expensive.
August 24, 2009
Yay!  I was hoping that you would Lunch about this after I saw in my FB feed that you were seeing it.  And Lunch you did! :)  Too bad it isn't +5 though.  I agree with that Bollywood-esque dance scene with the animated bird though.  I saw that in the trailer and thought "what the...?"  Other than that, I'm still going to catch this film because I love Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon Levitt and JD approves of this film! :)
August 29, 2009
Nah...not a +5, but good. Have you seen it yet?
August 31, 2009
I haven't seen it yet since most of my friends are party people and not movie people. I might just have to take myself out on a date!
August 31, 2009
I'd take you, but I won't drive 8 or 9 hours to pick you up! :D
September 03, 2009
You make it sound like such a long drive!
October 01, 2009
I THINK I would have loved the Bollywood scene but ONLY if they played it VERY Bollywood with people dressed in very vibrantly colored clothing actually dancing in a sort of Bollywood style--you know, really carried through with it. Of course the "B" in my name is coming to stand more and more for "Bollywood" these days...
August 24, 2009
Great review. I think your new motto "show not tell" is working!:) Haven't seen this yet, but I think Zooey Deschanel rocks.
August 29, 2009
If you love Zooey, then you'll like this film. She is mesmorizing and you fall for her while watching the film.
More (500) Days of Summer reviews
review by . May 02, 2011
I think that it is perfectly safe to say that (500) Days of Summer is probably the best romantic comedy of the last 10 years. However, most things in that genre are absolute garbage, so that's not really a fair title to give it. However, this is a truly splendid film, girded by strong performances and believable chemistry from its two main stars as well as a strong supporting cast. I also think that Summer Finn is a vicious cruel manipulative harpy, but I'll explain why later. The movie …
review by . May 08, 2010
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500 Days of Summer (...Bitch)
      "Any resemblance to people living or dead is purely coincidental...Especially you, Jenny Beckman...Bitch."      From the introduction of this film, I knew the movie was not going to be your average romantic comedy. In fact, I would classify it as an "anti-romance." It's the worst situation anyone in love could be in. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who plays Tom Hansen, is in love with Zooey Deschanel, who plays Summer Finn. The problem? …
review by . September 24, 2010
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4 stars: Love is a tough thing when you don't know why it ends
  No one really quite knows the exact reasons why there relationship ends or how it ended in the first place or why it came to end the way it did. All we know is that the relationship is over and there is nothing we can do about it they have moved on so should we however, that is sometimes easier said that done. Tom Hansen (Joseph Gordon-Levitt)   knows this all too well as h e has just broken up with his loveless, girlfriend Summer Finn (Zooey Deschanel). He is wreck after there …
review by . August 15, 2011
Don't be fooled by the opening narration. (500) Days of Summer is very much a love story. Just not the kind we're used to seeing.      Come to think of it, the title's also a little misleading. This is really the story of Tom Hanson, and the 500 days he spends being in love with Summer. But while we get to know Tom very well, thanks in large part to a charming and nuanced portrayal by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, by the end of the movie Summer remains something of an enigma, …
review by . October 11, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
"This is a story of boy meets girl. But you should know up front, this is not a love story."       Upon first hearing about (500) Days of Summer, your first instinct is probably that it is a love story.  It has the basic setup from the get go.  Boy meets girl and girl meets boy.  The difference is that the boy falls for the girl... but the girl does not.  In short, what we're really viewing is actually one man's misinterpretation of the relationship …
review by . October 06, 2009
 Perhaps the best way to describe (500) Days of Summer is to explain what it is not. Right at the outset, the unseen narrator warns, “This is not a love story.” But you may not be prepared for exactly how much it’s not a love story. This is not a standard-issue chick-flick tale of a klutzy cute girl who stumbles into a nice guy, or a drop-dead gorgeous career woman who figures out that her job is distracting her from her heart; and nowhere is there a grumpy …
review by . May 18, 2010
Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a twenty-something greeting card writer, recalls the 500 days in which he loved a girl named Summer (Zooey Deschanel). Though she made it clear she was a free spirit and didn't want a boyfriend, the two coworkers became involved and then parted, reunited briefly to be parted again.       This much talked-about romantic dramedy is fairly lightweight stuff, aimed at the teen and early-twenties set. To my older eyes, it seemed a bit of fluff, a forgettable …
Quick Tip by . June 26, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Cute movie. BUT I felt like it was trying too hard. Trying to be smart and hip, which annoyed me more than it charmed me.
Quick Tip by . January 25, 2010
meh.. entertaining enough to hold my attention. not great, not bad. also not very emotionally evocative, which was a bummer.
review by . December 30, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
(500) DAYS OF SUMMER is a refreshing bit of fluff about the dance of contemporary courting - with a twist. Writers Scott Neustader and Michael H. Weber demonstrate a keen understanding of the bumpy road of romance and have been able to make a film that balances humor and tenderness very well. Director Marc Webb encourages his two fine lead actors to give performances that could just be career boosts for both.    Tom Hansen (Joseph Gordon-Levitt in a completely different role …
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Jeff Daly ()
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Member Since: Jul 13, 2009
Last Login: Mar 4, 2013 03:52 PM UTC
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(500) Days of Summer is a 2009 United States romantic comedy film. It is directed by Marc Webb, produced by Mark Waters, and stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel. This is Gordon-Levitt and Deschanel's second movie together (following Manic). Principal photography began in April 2008 in Los Angeles, California. The film opened in US limited release on July 17th, 2009, and will be released in Australia on September 17th, 2009.

Tom is in a meeting when his boss (played by Clarke Gregg) introduces the board room to Summer, the new assistant/secretary. Tom works in a greeting card company similar to Hallmark as a copy writer. He comes up with all the slogans for their cards. He is immediately taken by Summer’s beauty.

Tom talks to his friends about how much he likes Summer. While at first he plays things cool, he is convinced she is the one after an exchange in the elevator over their mutual love of the Smiths. He spends two weeks pining over her and executing awkward attempts to initiate conversation but can’t hit a chord. An opportunity arises when Tom’s best friend tells him that the entire office is going to a karaoke bar the following evening.

Tom arrives at the bar as his best friend is singing. He sees Summer and she seems happy to see him. Summer goes up and sings while Tom drinks with his friend and watches Summer. Summer then gets Tom a little drunk and has him sing karaoke. Afterwards, the three sit together and talk about ...
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Director: Marc Webb
Genre: Drama
Release Date: July 17, 2009
MPAA Rating: PG-13
DVD Release Date: December 22, 2009
Runtime: 1hr 35min
Studio: Fox Searchlight
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