500 days of summer in spring

500 days1
500 Days of Summer deserved to be nominated. During our impromptu Oscar gathering, I went a little Rainman. "Write it down. Did you write it down? An Education and 500 Days of Summer. Now."  Then I repeated it. And again.

500 Days of summer isn’t exactly the story of Boy Meets Girl, Loses Girl, Gets Girl Back–and yet, it fit the criteria: the feeling criteria. When I see a romantic comedy, I don’t look to laugh; I look to feel. And thank God, because so few of them are actually funny. And I’m fine with that.

All I want is to be surprised and to think. Most romantic comedies set up a problem that seems insurmountable, then they go ahead and pull a Houdini, bringing the impossible back to possible, then leave us with a sense of happily ever after. This wasn’t that movie.

500 Days of Summer made me think. It’s a non-linear script, showing us 500 (or so) days in a real relationship, only we don’t see the days in order. It’s this juxtaposition that creates the comedy. Experiencing the greatest relationship high, when your favorite colors seems brighter, when strangers smile at you, then pat you on the back, then lift you onto their shoulders and bust into a musical number, complete with cartoon birds, with all of us whistling to the office, with the whole world in our hands. The elevator doors close behind us… and then… flip. Another day. What day will this be? We don’t need to ask. It’s on his face. The elevator doors open, and we see "mud face." The face that hurts, the one that’s too hurt to move. It’s the very worst day of your relationship. And it’s wonderful (for us). Delicious. We laugh. Because we know. We so know.

And we like remembering because it’s not us this time, but we can feel it with you. It’s what makes this movie feel so real. I felt along with them, felt all giddy, falling in love just as they did, remembering what lust feels like, remembering what it’s like when you have tension, when there’s a chase, firsts, when in a moment someone’s mood can shift and just like that they can leave, in the middle of the night. All the small things about falling in love, the way you can’t help but want to rush things, to use the "L word," the "M word," to look at the way your hands fit together, to catch him watching you in the mirror when you’re getting ready, and wondering if you’ll be doing just that for the next 60 years. I love all the little moments of rapture, the getting-to-know-you process, and I love the idea of playing with how that infatuation and the idea of destiny, fate, and love contrast with our internal gears, our neediness, our patterns and habits, our familiar, our needs, clingy-ness, self-esteem, and how much all that creates the emphasis we place on all the rest.

I love most the smaller moments, the way she falls asleep on his shoulder on a train, and I remember moments in my life when that moment was the moment.

The film reminded me that my high of choice is love. I love the idea of being in love and am, by far, infatuation-centric. I want so much to live there, with a Pantene shine, a colorful gathered skirt flowing with each step. The way it happens in the movies.



  1. Ha yeah that’s a big reason You need to realize that the guys in the movies
    have all kinds of things to make them look better. And they have a scripted role thats supposed to be your dream guy!
    Like Hugh Grant for example he played many charming roles but in reality he cheated on Liz Hurley with a prostitute.
    How dreamy is that?
    There is some really great guys in this world, you just have to go and find them or let them find you.

  2. Loved this movie until the ending which was so cheesy and expected when the rest of the movie was so wellone.

  3. Despite how sh/tty I feel b/c of my current relationship feeling as though it’s on the brink of ending and I don’t want it to, and I really don’t think my boyfriend wants it to either but is just plain afraid, this entry made me smile and see the good in love. thank you for sharing your love for love.

  4. My friend was one of the screenwriters. He was really expecting to get nominated too. However “The Messenger” is the movie that bumped him from the slot. I haven’t seen it, but I hope it’s good.

  5. The smaller moments are what I remember as well. Maybe I’m just getting old.

  6. I wonder if there is a similar formula for guy movies. You know, the reason Boiler Room, Godfather, The Hangover become quotable and men obsess.

  7. And now Corey Haim has died. My youth is being torn from me one popular culture icon at a time.

  8. I’m looking for any little known movie to make me feel. Any suggestions? I loved The Puffy Chair.

      1. Box of Moonlight. Sam Rockwell, Catherine Keener, John Turturro, Dermot Mulroney. 1996 movie. A lot of people dont know about it. I love it still. Takes about 20 mins to get into but it’s definitely worth it.

      2. I agree wholeheartedly about Doctor Parnassus – it got lost in the Avatar craziness, but was brilliant. Creative storytelling, incredibly imaginative and surreal imagery. One of the most creative movies I’ve seen in a long time. Loved, loved, loved it.

  9. Longtime-ish reader (saw you on Rachel Ray), first time commenting. I love when you write about things like this. I don’t know what it is exactly. I like when you get to this far off place in your writing, almost nostalgia. It’s you writing from above. You do it so well. (Just bought my copy of 500 days of Summer)!

  10. Didn’t like 500 Days of Summer, it was too…blah. I was there until the ending, when they did do the unimaginable (SPOILER ALERT) and marry off Zoey’s character. WTF?

    Also, to the person who recommended The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, don’t do it. What a waste of time. I can’t get behind being different for different’s sake. Terry Gilliam isn’t my cup of tea because he strikes me as the type of *artist* who isn’t really trying to tell a story but instead just confuse you to demonstrate his psuedo superiority.

    @Tina, if you want a really good movie to watch try Real Women Have Curves with America Fererra (pre-Ugly Betty).

  11. I loved the originality of this film. I’m so tired of romance films that reveal themselves in their previews. You really never know where it’s going to go.

  12. I know you kept comments closed on the An Education post, but I just wanted to tell you that you’re 100% right! The soundtrack is wonderful. AND I love love loved how you wrote about the film.

  13. Off subject, but I can’t WAIT to meet you at SXSW! I’m going to email you now.

    1. Fun but done … Most Sandra movies seem to follow the same boring RomCom formula (well, minus The Blind Side I suppose, but I haven’t seen it). Which is why I love this post extolling the uniqeness of 500 Days.

  14. I loved this movie. I was sort of sorry I waited so long to catch it, and heard really good buzz. It didn’t disappoint. (Signed, An avid romantic comedy lover).

  15. I have read your website and books for years and years but never commented….until now. I have re-read this post over and over again not just because I love the movie(I do), but I am currently going through this very sentimental “new love” period. Reading this made me realize that it is ok to be in love with love and to reject the cynicism and fear that i’ve come to associate with new relationships.

    Thank you Stephanie and keep ’em coming


    A loyal fan and fellow sap ;)

  16. However “The Messenger” is the movie that bumped him from the slot. I haven’t seen it, but I hope it’s good. Terry Gilliam isn’t my cup of tea because he strikes me as the type of *artist* who isn’t really trying to tell a story but instead just confuse you to demonstrate his psuedo superiority.

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