So, you wanna talk rom-coms? You can have your When Harry Met Sally, your Love Actually… you can even have Katherine Heigl’s entire ouvre (except Knocked Up, obviously—who do you think I am?) All I need is (500) Days of Summer.
(500) Days is that rare rom-com made by men, (mostly) for men. This audience breakdown stems at least partly from accusations that Summer fits the manic pixie dream girl archetype and therefore represents an unfair depiction of women by the filmmakers. I would push back by arguing that we are intentionally shown Summer not as a complete person, but as a manifestation of the perfect girl in Tom’s mind. In other words, we see Summer as a caricature because she is, in fact, a caricature to the protagonist and yadda yadda yadda. Whatever. I could write a MCM essay on this, but it is neither the time nor place. (Nor will it ever be, MCM department. Never again.)
One disclaimer before we go any further: there will be spoilers. And realistically, this will be far more interesting if you’ve seen the movie.
Okay, very well. I hereby present my five favorite moments out of all five hundred days.
5. “I’m Autumn…”
Yes, it’s a bit corny and predictable in retrospect, but the new girl’s name being Autumn and the calendar flipping from (500) to (1) are the perfect finishing touches on a near-perfect movie. The ending also presents us with the problematic conclusion that Tom hasn’t learned anything from his relationship with Summer and is doomed to repeat his failures (my high school English teacher/fellow (50o) Days enthusiast is a major proponent of this theory). This is probably the appropriate, if not the most heartening, interpretation of the ending—and also all the more reason to wish for a sequel. (I’m sure a sequel would just ruin the original, but it always seems like a great idea in principle.)
Also, for my money, Autumn is cuter than Summer. Minka Kelly get at me.
4. You Make My Dreams
Perhaps the most iconic scene in (500) Days, inasmuch as anything in a recently released non-landmark film can be iconic, is Tom’s dance number to the aptly selected Hall & Oates ditty “You Make My Dreams.” The routine does capture the early euphoria in a budding relationship, though we as viewers all know Tom is getting way ahead of himself here. Come on, dude, this girl kissed you for like twenty seconds at IKEA last night. Not sure it’s time to call the marching band out yet. Memorable moment anyway, I suppose.
3. “I really do hope you’re happy.”
My aforementioned English teacher suggests that the most unforgivably cold-hearted thing Summer does to Tom is holding his hand in this climactic scene. I disagree (it has to be dancing with him at Millie’s wedding, hands down), but the fact remains that the park bench interaction manages to capture everything that is simultaneously irresistible and insufferable about Summer. Oh, and at the same time, it breaks your fucking heart. “I just kept thinking, ‘Tom was right.’ It just wasn’t me you were right about.” COME ON. Absolutely brutal.
2. Copy room first kiss.
There’s no video for this one, which is too bad, because it speaks for itself. Their first kiss is in the goddamned copy room. Why? Because Summer walks over and initiates it out of nowhere. She is diabolical. But also… UGH.
1. Expectations vs. reality.
To me, this is without a doubt one of the most heartbreaking scenes in any movie ever (the clip cuts out halfway through the scene, sorry). The Regina Spektor shit going on in the background is fucking devastating by itself, and then you add in Tom’s disappointment building up and up and up until he sees Summer’s ring and leaves. It’s hard to make a sadder scene without somehow getting death involved. I mean, holy shit.
Whew. Thanks for sticking that one out with me. While I hope this countdown was enjoyable, what I really wanted to do was write that aforementioned MCM essay. So, if anyone ever wants to talk (500) Days in more depth, hit me up with an email and I will be there for hours/days/years. Can’t wait.