New Jersey’s Great Pop Culture Moments Vol. 33: 500 Days of Summer

500 Days of Summer
You have your moments. Not many of them, but you do have them.” 
– Princess Leia, Empire Strikes Back (1980)

When watching a love story on DVD with your woman for the first time, you might compare it to other films you have seen, or she may compare it to a classic romance novel you read not too long ago. Although, if you are like me and you have nothing to compare it to, it’s easy to arrive at the closest thing in my brain. STAR WARS! After watching 500 Days of Summer, the first thing that popped into my head was Leia’s grudging compliment to Han after he blended the Falcon into hunks of space garbage in Empire Strikes Back. The aforementioned famous quote perfectly describes 500 Days of Summer. It won’t blow your mind, and despite the buzz, it will not win an Oscar. It does have a handful of amusing moments though, not 500 of them, but it does have them.

“This is a story of Boy Meets Girl…The boy, Tom Hanson of Margate, New Jersey, grew up believing that he’d never truly be happy until the day he met the one

500 Days of Summer
SUMMER: Well you’re a perfectly adequate greeting card writer.
TOM: Thank you, that was actually my nickname in college, they called me “perfectly adequate” Hansen.
SUMMER: They used to call me anal girl.
TOM: (spits out drink)
SUMMER: I was very neat…and organized…
500 Days of Summer

SUMMER: “I wanted to sing ‘Born to Run’ but they didn’t have it.
TOM: I love “Born to Run.”
SUMMER: Me too.
McKENZIE: Tom’s from New Jersey.
SUMMER: Really?
TOM: Yeah I grew up there, I lived there ’til I was 12.
SUMMER: I named my cat after Springsteen.
TOM: OK, what was his name?
SUMMER: “…Bruce…”
TOM: That makes sense.

500 Days of Summer

After they do the horizontal hustle, we hear Hall and Oates’ “You Make My Dreams Come True” kick in. It’s a beautiful sunny day and, Tom, still glowing from his prior accomplishment, checks his hair in a nearby car window. Who appears in his reflection on the glass? Well, it just happened to be the coolest scoundrel ever to come from Corellia, Han Solo himself! I guess when you finally spend the night with the girl you’re in love with, you’re riding so high that you kinda feel like Han Solo is winking back at you. What follows is pretty badass, if you can see how a grandiose, cheesy, ’80s advertisement style dance sequence, replete with random people joining in, hands flailing in the air, a visit from an animated bluerbird, and a marching band would be considered cool. This was the high point of the film for me.

500 Days of Summer

My only issue with 500 Days of Summer lies with the likeability of the characters. It’s not that we have a hard time liking them, it’s quite the opposite. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Tom Hansen, a charismatic underdog who becomes smitten with Summer Finn (Zooey Deschanel), a sort of enchanting, intangible brunette who ensnares Tom with her natural beauty. Until that point Tom must not have felt the chill of dating such a secluded girl who keeps her personal life and thoughts a mystery. Once you mess with a girl like that you don’t want any part of it again. Watching the emotional ups and downs of our main character falling for this distant girl who isn’t ready to fall in love is frustrating to watch at times. The story is more about how our past relationships shape who we become rather than formulating a typical saccharine Hollywood vehicle. The main theme of the movie is that certain relationships may not survive, but what we take away from them sometimes helps eventually lead us to that sappy kind of true love. Tom just had to pound out some duds before he got to his prize.

By the end of 500 Days, you may find your mind too crammed with frustration to even remember the warning. If you haven’t seen the film, I urge you to heed the tip given before the opening credits: “You should know up front, that this is NOT a love story.” The film does have plenty of scenes gleaming with gratification, but for those of you seeking a fun romcom with wacky hijinks, this shouldn’t be your first choice. 500 Days provides a more realistic look at unrequited love thanks to shining performances from its two talented stars.