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.

The Avaricious Elephant & The Splendorous Sonic Drive-In

Lucy Elephant Sonic Drive In
I spent the weekend in Atlantic City and Wildwood or “The Wildwoods” as they’re apparently also known as, and I felt the need to report back to you with an account of my experiences.

She’s an icon and she always has people going inside her. No, I’m not talking about Tera Patrick, it’s Lucy the Elephant! For years, I’ve meant to visit this local oddity, but I suppose visiting an inanimate 65-foot elephant doesn’t take precedence over seeing Motley Crue or watching old episodes of Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians (A man needs to have priorities). While heading home on the Garden State Parkway, I thought “Why not stop in Margate and see Lucy the Elephant?” Not the greatest idea of mine, believe it or not.
After taking the Margate exit, I awoke the voice of William Daniels by firing up my Knight Rider GPS, and he informed us that there would be a toll road in our future. Confused, I wondered why there would be ANOTHER toll since we already exited the Parkway? We began to see signs for a toll coming up as we drove through a swampy dock area. After rolling over a short bridge we officially entered Margate City and we were greeted by a toll exchange that only had room for 3 or 4 cars to go through at a time. I couldn’t believe we were getting soaked for ANOTHER toll! Usually on the Garden State Parkway the toll fees range from $0.50 to $1.00, but this toll was $1.50! Forget appalled, I was downrightsupermuthaf-cking PISSED!!!
Once we arrived at Lucy’s chill zone, the sight of her was exactly what I expected. If you’ve seen pictures of Lucy then that’s all you’ll ever really need. A tour of Lucy’s innards is available, but I assure you it’s nothing like Body Wars. Go ahead and have your girl take silly pictures of you standing under Lucy’s bunghole, it’s all fun and games until 2 1/2 minutes later when you realize you’ve exhausted all activities with the wood and tin behemoth. When it’s time to go, make sure you scrounge up as much change from your pockets as you can, because you’ll have to cough up that $1.50 toll when LEAVING Margate also! The balls on these people! The country is in a terrible economic crisis and they’re charging $3.00 to enter and leave a town to see a f-cking elephant?!?! It’s not like we’re going to get to interact with an animatronic Snuffleupagus!
That $3.00 could have gone to much better use at Sonic.
Rio Grande, NJ’s Sonic Drive-In was the absolute best fast food experience I ever had the pleasure of enjoying. You might think that’s an embellishment because my Sonic cherry has been popped so recently, but it’s every bit as good as their commercials make it seem. For years, Sonic has advertised in the Tri-State area via TV commercials, magazine ads, and billboards, but there’s only one or two locations in New Jersey, and they are not around the corner. We noticed a Sonic billboard while driving into Wildwood and vowed to finally eat there on the way home.
At first, we didn’t realize that Sonic was exclusively a drive in. I figured it was just part of the gimmick and that there must be an option to sit inside and eat, but that’s not the case. When I noticed the patio furniture we opted to sit outside since it was sunny and cool. Did I mention that it was only 10:00 AM? This meal had to serve as my breakfast, lunch, and keep me fueled for the entire monotonous drive home. I ordered a cheeseburger, fries, and a Watermelon Creamslush. All were superb and exceeded my expectations in the taste and quality department.
I shouldn’t have, but my curiosity forced me to check out the nutritional information that’s published on the Sonic website. How could they do this to me? I might as well blow up right now like Violet Beauregarde in Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory. I’d really love to have a Sonic closer to where I live because I’d be there everyday trying a new Creamslush. I know it’s for the better, otherwise they would need a crane to remove me from my bedroom.
If you’re also a Sonic Drive-In virgin, then you might want to take a trip to their Howell, NJ or Hasbrouck Heights, NJ locations to experience it for yourself.