500 Days of Summer

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500 Days of Summer
Five hundred days of summer.jpg
Promotional film poster
Directed by Marc Webb
Produced by
Written by
Narrated by Richard McGonagle
Music by
Cinematography Eric Steelberg
Edited by Alan Edward Bell
Distributed by Fox Searchlight Pictures
Release dates
  • January 17, 2009 (2009-01-17) (Sundance)
  • August 7, 2009 (2009-08-07) (United States)
Running time
95 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $7.5 million[1][2]
Box office $60,722,734[1]

500 Days of Summer (stylized as (500) Days of Summer) is a 2009 American romantic comedy-drama film written by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, directed by Marc Webb, produced by Mark Waters, and starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel. The film employs a nonlinear narrative structure, with the story based upon its male protagonist and his memories of a failed relationship.[3]

As an independent production, the film was picked up for distribution by Fox Searchlight Pictures and premiered at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. It garnered critical acclaim and became a successful "sleeper hit", earning over $60 million in worldwide returns, far exceeding its $7.5 million budget. Many critics lauded the film as one of the best from 2009 and drew comparisons to other acclaimed films such as Annie Hall and High Fidelity.[3][4][5]

The film received the 2009 Satellite Award for Best Original Screenplay and the Independent Spirit Award for Best Screenplay as well as nominations at the 67th Golden Globe Awards for Best Picture and Best Actor.


The film is presented in a nonlinear narrative, as it jumps from various days within the 500-day span of Tom and Summer's relationship, indicated by an animation that includes the day's number; the following summary is a linear version of the events of the film.

On January 8, Tom Hansen meets Summer Finn, the new assistant to his boss. Tom trained as an architect but works as a writer at a greeting card company in Los Angeles. Following a karaoke night, Tom's friend and co-worker McKenzie reveals that Tom is attracted to Summer. During the next few months Summer and Tom grow closer, despite Summer's telling Tom that she does not believe in true love, and does not want a boyfriend.

Tom shows Summer his favorite spot in the city, which overlooks a number of buildings he likes, although the view is spoiled by parking lots. After several months of dating, Tom gets into a fight with a man who flirts with Summer, and they have their first argument. On day 290, Summer and Tom end their relationship after they see The Graduate, a film which Tom thinks shows true love. Tom does not take the breakup well, and Tom's friends call his younger sister, Rachel, to calm him down.

Summer quits her job at the greeting card company. Tom's boss moves him to the consolations department, as his depression is not suitable for happier events. Months later, as Summer and Tom attend the wedding of their co-worker Millie, they dance at the wedding and Summer catches the bouquet. They sit next to each other on the trip home, and Summer invites Tom to a party at her apartment. He attends the party expecting the two to rekindle the relationship. Instead, he barely gets to talk to Summer and spends most of the night alone drinking until he spots her showing off an engagement ring. Realizing what kind of party he is attending, he leaves close to tears. Tom enters a deep depression, only leaving his apartment for alcohol and junk food. After a few days, he returns to work with a hangover and after an emotional outburst, quits his job. He decides to rededicate himself to architecture, makes a list of firms, puts together a portfolio and begins to attend interviews.

On day 488, Summer sees Tom at his favorite spot in the city, and they talk. Tom states his lack of understanding towards her actions. Summer explains that he was right about the existence of true love and that she discovered in someone else all the feelings she had never been sure about with Tom. Summer holds Tom's hand. She says she is glad to see Tom is doing well. As she leaves Tom tells her he really hopes she is happy.

Twelve days later, on Wednesday, May 23, he attends a job interview and meets a beautiful girl who is also applying for the same job. They talk, and Tom learns she shares his favorite spot and dislike for the parking lots. Before entering the interview, he makes a date to have coffee with her afterwards. He asks her name, and she replies "Autumn".




The style of film is presented in a nonlinear narrative. Each scene is introduced using a title card showing which of the 500 days it is. [6] Co-writer of the film Scott Neustadter admitted the film was based on a real romance. Neustadter explains that when he met the real girl who inspired the character Summer as a student at the London School of Economics in 2002, he was rebounding from a bad breakup back home, and promptly fell "crazily, madly, hopelessly in love" with the girl who "returned his kisses but not his ardor." The ending of the relationship was "painfully and unforgettably awful," which prompted him to co-write the film with Michael H. Weber. When Neustadter later showed the script to Summer's real life counterpart, she said she related more to the Tom character.[7][8] Weber also stated that, "we've all been in the trenches of love, we've all gone through the highs and lows, so Scott and I felt that the only way to tell this story was to come at it from a completely real place. It was pretty interesting for us because Scott was just going through a break-up and I was in a long-term relationship, so we each brought a totally opposite perspective, living it and not living it, and I think that tension helped to bring out more of the comedy".[9]


Director Webb has described the film as more of a "coming of age" story as opposed to a "rom-com". He stated, "We arrive at a different conclusion, for one thing. Plus, most romantic comedies are more loyal to a formula than to emotional truth. It's about happiness, and learning that you'll find it within yourself, rather than in the big blue eyes of the girl in the cubicle down the hall. I wanted to make an unsentimental movie and an uncynical movie. In my mind, I wanted it to be something you could dance to. That's why we put a parenthesis in the title – it's like a pop song in movie form. It's not a big film. It's not about war or poverty. It's about 500 days in a young guy's relationship, but it's no less deserving of scrutiny. When your heart is first broken, it consumes you. And it's an emotion I wanted to make a movie about, before I forgot how it felt".[9] Webb also stated that Deschanel's character, Summer, is based on a stock character type; "Yes, Summer is an immature view of a woman. She's Tom's view of a woman. He doesn't see her complexity and the consequence for him is heartbreak. In Tom's eyes, Summer is perfection, but perfection has no depth. Summer's not a girl, she's a phase."[9] Gordon-Levitt explained that he was drawn to the role of Tom because of his relatability to the character. "I've had my heart broken before. Truly, truly broken. But when I look back at me in my heartbroken phase, it's pretty hilarious, because it felt so much more extreme than it really was. One of the things I love about (500) Days of Summer is that it doesn't make light of what we go through in romances, but it is honest about it and shows it for what it is, which is often profoundly funny".[9]


A photograph of a building interior showing stairs climbing up five storeys to the final floor where we can see the glass roof.
The Bradbury Building in Los Angeles was a filming location.

David Ng of the Los Angeles Times describes architecture as a star of the film.[10] Tom is seen reading Alain de Botton's The Architecture of Happiness. The film was originally set in San Francisco but was later moved to Los Angeles and the script rewritten to make better use of the location.[11] Buildings used include the Los Angeles Music Center (which includes the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion) and the towers of California Plaza.[10] The older Fine Arts Building is featured in the film, in a scene where Tom shows it to Summer and mentions its designers, Walker and Eisen, two of his favorite architects, although he incorrectly gives the partners' names as "Walker and Eisner."

Christopher Hawthorne of the Los Angeles Times describes the film as having "finely honed sense of taste" to include the Bradbury Building where Tom goes for his job interview.[12][13]


To help promote the film, Gordon-Levitt and Deschanel starred in the debut episode of Microsoft Zune and Mean Magazine '​s "Cinemash" series. In the episode, they "mash" the characters from the film Sid and Nancy with story elements from 500 Days of Summer.[14]

Marc Webb created a music video as a companion piece to the film, titled "The Bank Heist". It features Deschanel and Gordon-Levitt dancing to "Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?", a song by Deschanel's folk group She & Him.[2] Webb remarked, "when we didn’t include Zooey in the dance sequence [in 500 Days], she was a little heartbroken and I felt like I needed to remedy that."[15]


The film made its debut at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. It proved a huge success and received a standing ovation from festival crowds upon screening.[16] In Europe, 500 Days premiered in Switzerland as the opening film of the 62nd Locarno Film Festival.[17]

Filmed independently, it was picked up for distribution by Fox Searchlight Pictures and opened in US and Canadian limited release on July 17, 2009, later expanding to wide release in the US on August 7, 2009.[18] It was later also released on September 2, 2009, in Ireland and the United Kingdom, and opened in Australia on September 17, 2009.[19]


Box office[edit]

Upon the film's initial limited release in the U.S, it was expected to become the "breakout indie hit of the summer".[20] Later, during its full opening weekend, the film grossed twenty-seven times its original budget cost,[9] making it one of the most successful "sleeper hits" of the year.[21] By September 8, the film had taken in $1.9 million from 318 screens in the United Kingdom. This was regarded as a successful five-day opening by Fox Searchlight, earning around half as much as the science-fiction blockbuster District 9, which took in $3.5 million.[22] As of February 25, 2010 the film has grossed $32,391,374 in the United States and Canada and $60,722,734 worldwide.[23]

Critical response[edit]

The film received positive reviews from critics upon its release. Based on over 214 professional reviews, it obtained a "Certified Fresh" seal on Rotten Tomatoes with an approval rating of 86% and an average score of 7.6 out of 10. The consensus describes the film as "A clever, offbeat romantic comedy, 500 Days of Summer is refreshingly honest and utterly charming." Later, at the website's year-end "Golden Tomato Awards", which honored the best reviewed films of 2009, the film placed second in the romantic category.[24] At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the film has received an average score of 76% based on 36 reviews, indicating "Generally favorable reviews".[25]

Response in the American press was positive. Film critic Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film four stars out of four. He described the film as "a delightful comedy, alive with invention". He particularly praised the strong performances of Gordon-Levitt and Deschanel and summarized his review by adding, "Here is a rare movie that begins by telling us how it will end and is about how the hero has no idea why".[26] Premiere also awarded the film four stars out of four, stating "Much like the actual summer (the season, not the character), we never wanted it to end".[27]

Michael Ordoña of the Los Angeles Times gave a positive review. He wrote, "(500) Days of Summer is something seldom seen: an original romantic comedy. It bristles with energy, emotion and intellect, as it flits about the dizzying highs and weeping-karaoke lows of a passionate entanglement".[28] Dana Stevens of Slate also praised the film and described it as, "a keeper. It's fun both to watch and to talk about afterward, and it possesses the elusive rom-com sine qua non: two equally appealing leads who bounce wonderfully off each other".[29]

Lou Lumenick of the New York Post awarded the film three stars out of four. He praised the directing of Marc Webb, stating, "it's the oldest bittersweet story in the book, of course, but music-video director Marc Webb approaches his feature debut with great confidence, flair and a minimum of schmaltz. That's the whole guy-centric point of (500) Days of Summer, though. Sometimes you never, ever truly figure out why these mysterious creatures break your heart".[30]

Entertainment Weekly critic Owen Gleiberman gave the film an "A", and also praised the originality of the story; "Most romantic comedies have half a dozen situations at best: Meet Cute, Infatuation, Pop Song Montage, Contrived Mix-Up, Angry Breakup, and Final Clinch. (500) Days of Summer is about the many unclassifiable moments in between. It's a feat of star acting, and it helps make (500) Days not just bitter or sweet but everything in between".[31]

Film Threat critic Scott Knopf gave the film a maximum five-star rating and called the script "fantastic". He also lauded the film's innovative nature; "Of course they meet. Of course they fall for each other. Of course there are problems. It sounds cliché but what's remarkable about 500 Days is how the film explores new ways to tell the world's oldest story". He concluded that the film was "the best romantic comedy since Love Actually."[32]

Peter Travers of Rolling Stone gave the film three and a half stars out of four. He wrote, "Boy meets girl, boy loses girl. It's been done to emo death. That's why the sublimely smart-sexy-joyful-sad (500) Days of Summer hits you like a blast of pure romantic oxygen" and concludes: "(500) Days is otherwise a different kind of love story: an honest one that takes a piece out of you".[33] IGN critic Eric Goldman scored the film at 9.0/10 upon his review of the blu-ray release. He praised the film as "one of the best of 2009" and particularly complimented the innovative nature of the story in an often clichéd genre; "(500) Days of Summer proved there is a way to bring something fresh and new to one of the most cliche and often frustrating genres – the romantic comedy".[34] The New York Times[35] and Empire gave the film 4/5.[36]

The A.V. Club also gave the film favourable reviews with a B- grade.[37]

NPR was more dismissive: "For all its rhetorical whimsy and hipster dressings, (500) Days of Summer is a thoroughly conservative affair, as culturally and romantically status quo as any Jennifer Aniston vehicle."[38] Joe Morgenstern of The Wall Street Journal was also more critical, calling it, "synthetic and derivative, a movie that’s popping with perceptions while searching for a style."[39]

British newspaper The Times gave a mixed review. Despite Toby Young awarding the film three stars out of five, he critiqued, "It is hardly the freshest romantic comedy of past 20 years. Taking the best bits from other movies and rearranging them in a non-linear sequence does not make for an original film."[40] The Guardian film critic Peter Bradshaw said the film was "let down by sitcom cliches, and by being weirdly incurious about the inner life of its female lead."[41]

Mark Adams of the Daily Mirror, though, gave the film a glowing review, awarding it a full five stars, and writing, "It is a modern romance for grown-ups... a sweet-natured, funny, deeply-romantic tale that brims with energy and is blessed with top-notch performances by Deschanel and Gordon-Levitt, who are both charming and have real chemistry".[42] Chris Tookey of the Daily Mail was also impressed and described the film as "delightful and endearing", awarding four stars out of five. He wrote, "For the young, this is a worthwhile cautionary tale. If you're of more mature vintage, it will make you remember how it felt to be naive, energised by first love and mortified when that certain someone turned out not to love you nearly as much as you would have liked".[43]

Jordan Mattos of the World Socialist Web Site gave the film a negative review, stating that its omission of "the material realities and complexities that play a hand in determining the fate of contemporary relationships ... comes at too high a price". He praised Deschanel's performance as "honest, and terrifying in its calculating precision" but condemned the film for not taking "a searching look" at the development of Summer's personality.[44]

Chelsey Aquino of Racket Magazine gave the movie a positive review, granting the film a score of 8.5 out of 10. She wrote "500 DAYS was a breath of fresh air; they weren't afraid of showing the pear-shaped, more real and complex side of romance versus all the old clichés." Praise was also given, complementing how 500 Days of Summer was"a rare kind of film that transcends its genre and the stereotypes that it's often associated with."[45]


The film was also included in several "Top Ten" year end lists for 2009 by various film critics.

Publication Rank
St. Louis Post Dispatch 1[46]
About.com 2[47]
The Capital Times 2[48]
BBC Radio 1 3[48]
Richard Roeper 4[46]
Miami Herald 5[46]
Entertainment Weekly 6[46]
USA Today 6[46]
Associated Press 7[49]
Hollywood Reporter 7[46]
New York Daily News 7[46]
Premiere 7[46]
Chicago Reader 8[46]
Rolling Stone 9[46]
National Board of Review N/A[50]


Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber received numerous awards for their screenplay; including the 2009 Hollywood Film Festival's Hollywood Breakthrough Screenwriter Award on October 26, 2009,[51] the Satellite Award for Best Original Screenplay,[52] the Southeastern Film Critics Association Award for Best Original Screenplay (with the film also being named in the Top Ten Films of the Year),[53] as well as the Las Vegas Film Critics Society Award for Best Screenplay.[54]

Alan Edward Bell won the San Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Editing,[55] as well as the film being named one of the ten best movies of the year by the National Board of Review Awards 2009.[50] The film also received two nominations at the 67th Golden Globe Awards announced on December 15, 2009, for Best Picture (Comedy or Musical) and for Joseph Gordon-Levitt for Best Actor (Comedy or Musical). It has been nominated for four Independent Spirit Awards and won the award for Best Screenplay. It received a nomination for the People's Choice Award.

Award Category Recipient(s) Outcome
Broadcast Film Critics Association Best Comedy Movie Nominated
Best Original Screenplay Scott Neustadter
Michael H. Weber
Chicago Film Critics Association Most Promising Filmmaker Marc Webb Nominated
Denver Film Critics Society Best Original Screenplay Scott Neustadter
Michael H. Weber
Detroit Film Critics Society Best Film Nominated
Best Director Marc Webb
Best Actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Golden Globe Awards Best Motion Picture  – Musical or Comedy Nominated
Best Actor  – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Hollywood Film Festival Award Breakthrough Screenwriter Scott Neustadter
Michael H. Weber
Houston Film Critics Society Best Picture Nominated
Independent Spirit Award Best Feature Nominated
Best Screenplay Scott Neustadter
Michael H. Weber
Best Male Lead Joseph Gordon-Levitt Nominated
Indiana Film Critics Association Top 10 Films of the Year
Las Vegas Film Critics Society Best Screenplay Scott Neustadter
Michael H. Weber
National Board of Review Top 10 Films of the Year
Best Directorial Debut Marc Webb Won
Oklahoma Film Critics Circle Best Film Nominated
Best Screenplay - Original Scott Neustadter
Michael H. Weber
People's Choice Award Favorite Independent Movie Nominated
San Diego Film Critics Society Best Editing Alan Edward Bell Won
Satellite Award Top 10 Films of the Year
Best Original Screenplay Scott Neustadter
Michael H. Weber
Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical Zooey Deschanel Nominated
Southeastern Film Critics Association Top 10 Films of the Year
Best Original Screenplay Scott Neustadler
Michael H. Weber
St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association Best Film Nominated
Best Comedy
Best Screenplay Scott Neustadter
Michael H. Weber
Most Original, Innovative or Creative Film Nominated
Favorite Scene "'Expectations vs. reality' split-screen sequence"
"'Morning after' dance number"
Utah Film Critics Association Best Screenplay Scott Neustadter
Michael H. Weber
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Best Original Screenplay Scott Neustadter
Michael H. Weber


The film features a musical sequence after Tom and Summer first spend the night together. As Tom walks to work, he is overjoyed and struts down the street in a grand musical number set to the Hall & Oates song "You Make My Dreams" and others join his dance.[2]


500 Days of Summer
Soundtrack album by Various artists
Released July 14, 2009[56]
Genre Indie rock, alternative rock, folk
Length 52:26
Label 20th Century

The soundtrack for the film was released on July 14, 2009. The soundtrack peaked at #42 on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart.[57]

  1. "A Story of Boy Meets Girl" – Mychael Danna and Rob Simonsen
  2. "Us" – Regina Spektor
  3. "There Is a Light That Never Goes Out" – The Smiths
  4. "Bad Kids" – Black Lips
  5. "Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want" – The Smiths
  6. "There Goes the Fear" – Doves
  7. "You Make My Dreams" – Hall & Oates
  8. "Sweet Disposition" – The Temper Trap
  9. "Quelqu'un m'a dit" – Carla Bruni
  10. "Mushaboom" – Feist
  11. "Hero" – Regina Spektor
  12. "Bookends" – Simon & Garfunkel
  13. "Vagabond" – Wolfmother
  14. "She's Got You High" – Mumm-Ra
  15. "Here Comes Your Man" – Meaghan Smith
  16. "Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want" – She & Him

iTunes Bonus Tracks

  1. "Here Comes Your Man" – Joseph Gordon-Levitt
  2. "Sugar Town" – Zooey Deschanel
  3. "At Last" – Kevin Michael


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External links[edit]