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(500) Days of Summer

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

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This is Not a Love Story. It is a Story About Love.

  • Oct 11, 2009
"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 he had with a girl.  To him it's love.  To her it is nothing more than friendship.  When you know this about (500) Days of Summer, the film grows from being a simple love story to being about something so much more.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt steps into the role of Tom Hansen.  A man who has what can best be described as a misguided conception of love brought on by British Pop Songs and a total mis-reading of The Graduate (that joke is only funny if you've ever actually seen The Graduate).  Tom believes in true love.  And believes that he has found the one.  And her name is Summer Finn... played by Zooey Deschanel.  And boy does Tom fall hard for her.  The story is told in a very non-linear fashion.  As the story is told it jumps around through all the days.  One moment we're on day 488 and the next we're on day 1.  As the story opens we really do seem to think we're in for a love story.

But it goes much deeper.

Tom works at a company that meets greeting cards.  Summer is hired as his bosses assisstant.  This is how they meet.  And they become fast friends.  Tom slowly learns, however, that Summer doesn't believe in true love.  What if she's wrong?  What if Summer just hasn't found the right guy?  Tom thinks he's that guy for her.  Midway through those 500 days, though, Summer breaks it off.  What unfolds next is the story showing us the ups and downs of their relationship, and how Tom interprets this.  What we discover is ultimately what it means to be close to someone, and what it means to really truly get over them.  For Tom the entire of ordeal of getting close only to realize he isn't the one for Summer takes 500 days.  The story may be told in a non-linear fashion but it is most certainly not difficult to follow.  The story is more about Tom discovering that life is no fantasy world than anything.  There is something much greater that the film is trying to say.  About love, destiny, coincidence and all around chance.  But most important what (500) Days of Summer gets at is that sometimes "the one" isn't who you think it is.  THAT'S what the film is about. 

I repeat: It's not a love story.

It is funny.  Not just because the writing is well done and crafted but because much of the comedy is offbeat and the delivery is spot on from the characters.  We're laughing but to the characters on screen much of this is very natural.  In short the actors act as though they are unaware they're being fimed.  Or perhaps it's because we can be absorbed in the premise of the film in and of itself.  A friend of mine said he didn't want to go see it because it looked like a chick-flick.  There are a lot of things (500) Days of Summer is, but a chick-flick is definitely not one of them.  It's a romantic-comedy and it's about love, but it's very honest (sometimes a little too honest).  And at times we're as confused as Tom is about who he is getting into.  From the onset of the film we know it won't work.  The fun of it all is figuring out why it won't work and how it al falls apart.  We come away actually learning something. 

The premise of a relationship, break up and moving on is nothing new in Hollywood.  But the execution of (500) Days of Summer is incredible, original and best of all, brings us along for the ride.  It's not trying to be cool, quirky or sincere, it just has something to say and comes out and says it.  Sometimes it's hard for us to realize that not every movie has to be deeply challenging or complex.  For those complaining about nothing original coming out of Hollywood (500) Days of Summer is the answer to your begging pleas.  In some ways it does challenge you, but in most ways it's just a very neat premise with a great story.  There are moments when you have to let go for a moment but I can't actually tell you why because it would spoil one of the films greatest and most memorable moments.

If you want romantic comedy that's a little different, then you might be surprised with (500) Days of Summer.  It's funny, heartfelt, but most of all it has a good story and message behind it.  It moves a little slow at some points and fast at others but it does make use of some interesting techniques and it does bring its characters to life in a way most movies don't.  We see as Tom struggles with losing Summer, but we also see why Summer is who she is.  When all is said and done (500) Days of Summer is a very satisfying film.  It's not a love story... just a story about love in and of itself.

Now let us count the days.

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May 07, 2010
Great review, Sean! I'm working on my review for the film as well. I'm rating it a bit lower, but I still enjoyed it immensely.
May 07, 2010
I have a lot of movies that I really like a great deal, but the list of movies that I really loved the first time I saw them isn't big.  I might see three or four movies a year in which that happens.  (500) Days of Summer was one of my favorite movies of 2009... albeit it didn't seem like anyone else saw it.
May 08, 2010
It's pretty cool that it touched you that much! It has that initial affect on viewers, I think. I thought it was pretty good with some highs and some lows. I just posted my review of the film if you want to check it out. :)
March 14, 2010
I just saw this last night and I really liked it. Great review.
January 03, 2010
I just saw this last Tuesday and it was very good. I agree with your review wholeheartedly, except maybe I'll rate it a 4 because it doesn't have great replay value and some scenes became a little too heavy-handed. I liked the idea that this time around, it was the guy who wanted a relationship while the girl wanted a casual one. Nice movie, but I don't think I'll do a write up since you summed it up perfectly.
October 11, 2009
5 stars from Sean and it is a romantic-comedy?! Alert the presses! LOL Actually, I am not fond of romantic comedies (most of them that is) but a comedy about life that uses romance as its backdrop can be compelling and engaging. I think I only reviewed 2 or 3 romantic comedies in my 4+ years of reviewing...excellent review! I'll have to make time to see this...
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
posted in Movie Hype
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 . August 24, 2009
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" …
review by . September 24, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
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 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 …
About the reviewer
Sean A. Rhodes ()
Ranked #7
I'm a more analytical person. I believe that the purpose of the review is not for me to give you my opinion but for me to give you an analysis and help you decide if you want to get it. If you reading … more
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About this movie


(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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