[“Have you ever heard that cover of Love will Tear Us Apart by Fall Out Boy? Better than the original!”]
*I haven’t written anything in a hot minute because, well, life and junk, but enjoy this!
My favorite passing comment about this movie comes courtesy of a blog (I can’t remember where it came from, sorry) that posted the trailer months of before it got a theatrical release with the doe-eyed emo remark, “This movie is going to ruin me.” I can wholeheartedly agree with that sentiment.
With its idiotic parenthetical title, “(500) Days of Summer” is both the most enjoyable and irritating movie I’ve ever seen (and this is coming from someone who owns a DVD copy of “3 Ninjas: Kick Back”). It simultaneously romanticizes chasing a Manic Pixie Dream Girl, while vilifying her. Ostensibly, it’s PG-13 porn for people who shop at Urban Outfitters.
"(500) Days of Summer" centers around Tom, a greeting card writer who has given up on his dream of being an architect for living an easy, yet supremely, unsatisfying life. He’s flanked by his best friends, Matthew Gray Gubler and Geoffrey Arend (that’s Mr. Christina Hendrix or Upchuck from Daria to you) and his moppet, wise-beyond-her-years teenage sister, who fills the role typically reserved for a Magical Negro. When Summer, a role filled out by MPDG archetype Zooey Deschanel, enters his life, he goes from being a tepid white dude to being an annoyingly happy guy. When she dumps him, his world crashes and burns and he fights to get her back on his road to self-discovery.
What I initially liked about “(500) Days of Summer” was that, like “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” before it, it did a good, if not slightly ham-fisted job of capturing the somewhat darker sides of modern breakups, without the sexual fantasies that enter your mind. But there’s more to this movie that I dislike and which is why it’s one of the most irritating movies I’ve seen.
For one thing, Tom is kind of an idiot. Millions of girls will no doubt disagree with me. “I would date someone like Tom in a heartbeat!” the would shoot back. No, you wouldn’t. Tom is a clingy guy who filters out what Summer wants for the basis of their relationship simply because he gets to sleep with her. It’s stupid. Hell, even Joseph Gordon-Levitt recognizes this in interviews. Also, he doesn’t have a beard and is thin as fuck, so he’s not ready for the Tumblr set. Just sayin’.
Like all Manic Pixie Dream Girls, Summer is a one-note presence, whose Pitchfork-approved music tastes and neo-mod aesthetic makes her the kind of girl that guys would want to marry, kill, AND fuck. It’s quite the feat, let me tell you. Most disappointingly, the movie spends the first two acts (have you tried to watch this shit in chronological order?) building her up as a carefree pixie who cannot be tied down to the institution of marriage, only to vilify her when she turns around and marries the next guy she dates. Tom learns of this and is completely broken for the entire third act before saying “Fuck the world” and gets his life together.
The movie’s darkest moments, which typically feature a semi-suicidal Tom, is what a lot of guys cling to, so as to validate their sad-sack behavior. Real life isn’t that simple and while those moments are my favorite parts of the movie, the fact that broken hearted guys who listen to nothing but Elliott Smith all day cherish it makes it creepy to me.
In my circle of friends, my polarizing opinion of this movie is understandably unpopular. Most of my friends, who are women, tend to look at the lengths that Tom goes through to court Summer and puts her on this sorely unreasonable pedestal. Most people want to feel that way, which is what they probably connect with it. I, on the other hand, have found that the movie’s moodiest moments (which includes a rather strange ode to Bergman’s “The Seventh Seal”) to be the ones I have the most perverse fascination with, though don’t get it twisted, I don’t necessarily enjoy it.
The biggest reason why a movie like this still continues to enter my psyche from time to time is based on how people have changed their dating habits BECAUSE of it. Seriously, think about when you saw this movie and how you altered your journey to romance as a result (if you haven’t seen this movie, I recommend it), whether you wanted to date a clingy guy who doesn’t listen or you approach love through cynical lenses.