My Favorite Movies – (500) Days of Summer (2009)

16 May

By Tanner Smith

Marc Webb’s (500) Days of Summer has gotten somewhat of a backlash in recent years, and I…honestly can’t quite understand why.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Tom is a selfish guy who sees himself as a romantic lead who has this delusion of what he thinks true love is or should be…THAT’S THE IDEA!

Oh, but he unlearns the harsh lesson he learned upon the very end of the film…THAT’S THE JOKE!

Yes, the myth of the Nice Guy has been debunked–but are you seriously telling me that you’re realizing Tom’s character flaws NOW??

“(500) Days of Summer” works BECAUSE of that character and his flaws. It’s not a love story–it’s a cautionary tale. I was 17 when I first watched this movie in 2009, and even I could see that! (And I was one of those Nice Guys!! It’s because of life experiences and movies like this and Ruby Sparks that I was able to grow out of that toxic mindset.)

PSA: don’t be a Nice Guy–it’s too easy. Be a Kind Guy instead.

Don’t worry, you still have good reason to love this movie: because it’s great!

Part of the reason it’s great is because of the brilliant screenplay by Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber (the screenwriting duo that has since gained recognition for writing The Spectacular Now, The Fault in Our Stars, and The Disaster Artist). The story of how Tom (Gordon-Levitt) met, courted, and ended things with Summer (Zooey Deschanel) is told in non-linear fashion, telling us how one way went in another direction in this relationship and how an attitude can change upon life experience. I haven’t seen that many movies that carry this approach THIS effectively.

Another reason it works is because of the lead performance by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. It’s so easy to mistake Tom for the common romantic leading man, but it turns out he’s more complicated than that. He causes us to look at romantic leads from previous romances and see if THEIR actions hold up–that makes sense, considering Tom learned all his “expertise” on romance probably from watching those movies.

“(500) Days of Summer” is a movie about a guy who learns some harsh lessons about love and life, and that’s what it was always meant to be. And it’s great at being that.

So lighten up!

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