|YMMV • Radar • Quotes • (Funny • Heartwarming • Awesome) • Fridge • Characters • Fanfic Recs • Nightmare Fuel • Analysis • Tear Jerker • Headscratchers • Trivia • WMG • Recap • Ho Yay • Image Links • Memes • Haiku • Laconic|
Tom Hansen works as a writer for a greeting-card company; Summer Finn is a quirky young woman hired as his boss's assistant. Tom, a hopeless romantic, immediately falls for her; Summer doesn't believe in true love, and isn't looking for a relationship. They quickly become more than just friends, but while Summer doesn't consider their affair to be serious, Tom believes she's "the one", and wants something more. The film takes a look at their quasi-relationship from Tom's perspective, numbering the days and events that lead to its buildup and eventual downfall.
Directed by Marc Webb (from a script by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber), the film has been praised by critics for eschewing romantic comedy cliches. Instead, it portrays the highs and lows (mostly lows) of a modern relationship and the fractured way in which we remember them.
This film contains examples of the following tropes: Edit
- Adorkable: Tom. He's awkward and silly, but you can't help but love him. Rachel thinks he's a bit of a nerd.
Rachel: Just because some cute girl likes all the same bizarro crap you do doesn't mean she's your soulmate.
- Anachronic Order: The film begins on Day 488 and then jumps around among the 500 days as Tom (through the Narrator) recalls them.
- Better Than a Bare Bulb
- Bigger Is Better in Bed: In the case of one of Summer's ex boyfriends, whose name is Puma.
- Bi the Way: Summer talks about her exes, including Charlie. "She was nice."
- Blind Date: Tom goes on one with another, unnamed girl after Summer dumps him; as he's still too distraught to do anything but talk about their breakup, it doesn't go well.
- Book Ends: Day 488.
- Boy Meets Girl: To quote the Narrator: "This is a story of Boy Meets Girl." Deconstructed.
- Brick Joke: The Graduate
- Color Failure
- Comically Missing the Point: Tom completely misinterpreted the ending of The Graduate as a child, contributing to his tendency to romanticize relationships as an adult.
- It's shown fairly evidently in the script, where it is shown that after his college girlfriend (briefly mentioned in the film) broke up with him in a flashback by using a song he showed her as a metaphor (skipping the song that she used to like), Tom misinterprets it and tells her it's a "fucking good song."
- Cool Big Sis: Technically, she's a Cool Little Sis, but she sure does not sound or behave like a kid.
- Creator Breakdown: In-universe example; Tom writes increasingly caustic and inappropriately cynical greeting card messages as his relationship with Summer deteriorates.
- "Roses are red, violets are blue, fuck you, whore."
- Crowd Song: A Crowd Dance, to be more accurate, since the characters onscreen are not the ones singing: the morning after Tom and Summer spend their first night together, Tom giddily struts down the streets of L.A., where he is joined by a crowd of dancers, a marching band, and animated birds, all set to Hall and Oates' "You Make My Dreams".
- Did Not Get the Girl: The audience knows this from the start.
- Did You Just Have Sex?: One of Tom's friends asks him this, not realizing that Summer is in the other room, listening.
- Drowning My Sorrows: After Tom discovers that Summer's marrying someone else.
- Emotionless Girl: How the Narrator introduces us to Summer. Probably evidence that he's an Unreliable Narrator.
- The Faceless: Summer's Husband.
- Foregone Conclusion: The Narrator tells us right near the start, "This is a story of Boy Meets Girl. But you should know up front, this is not a love story. "
- Fourth Date Marriage: The entire story, including Tom's post-break-up depression, takes place over a little less than a year and a half. Consider how Summer spends less than half that time (Days 288-500). Most couples spend more time between the engagement and the wedding than Summer took meeting a total stranger and getting married to him. Including Millie.
- Freudian Excuse: According to the Narrator, Summer's parents' divorce when she was young is the reason she's become an Emotionless Girl, unable to form any permanent attachments. But see also Unreliable Narrator.
- Freudian Slip:
ZooeySummer fakes one in order to gently tease Tom and to let him know that she overheard the Did You Just Have Sex? conversation between him and his friend.
- Genre Savvy: Most of the characters -- except when they're Wrong Genre Savvy.
- Here We Go Again: Tom meets a new girl at a job interview. Her name? Autumn. Day 1.
- Heroic BSOD: Tom's response upon learning that Summer has gotten engaged to someone else.
- Hollywood California: Set in Los Angeles; Tom, having trained as an architect, takes Summer on a tour of his favorite architectural sites around the city.
- Hollywood Tone Deaf: Characters sing in a karaoke bar at a few different points in the movie, and their supposedly awful efforts are played for laughs, but they aren't actually that bad. Doesn't hurt that Zooey is an indie singer in real life. Seriously, go watch the cotton ad she was in.
- Homage: Specific scenes from Children of Paradise, Persona, The Seventh Seal, and The Graduate. More generally, the films of Woody Allen, especially Annie Hall.
- How We Got Here: The first day of Tom and Summer's relationship we see is Day 488, near the end of it -- in fact, exactly two hundred days after she dumped him, and several days after she married someone else. The rest of the movie jumps back and forth through the five hundred days to explain How We Got Here.
- Hypocritical Humor: Incessant.
Summer: All we do is argue.
Tom: That's bullshit!
- It Got Worse
- In Medias Res: Related to the Anachronic Order, we see the effects of their breakup in the first scene, before we even meet the couple.
- Ironic Echo: Because of the film's Anachronic Order, we often hear the echoed version first. One of the reasons the movie is in some ways Better on DVD.
- Just Friends: Despite being Friends with Benefits, the core of the tension between Tom and Summer is his desire to be more than Just Friends, and her desire not to.
- Lampshade Hanging: Of Romantic Comedy conventions. Usually (but not always) by the Narrator. Usually (but not always) subverted or deconstructed.
- Le Film Artistique: During his post-break up depression, the protagonist sits through a collection of European monochrome movies that strangely resemble events from his own life.
- Lemony Narrator: Certainly a mild example compared with the Trope Namer, but the Narrator is definitely odd and quite possibly at least a little unreliable.
- Love At First Sight: Tom's feelings for Summer. Summer seems to evoke this response from most men she meets.
- Love Hurts: Oh, yes.
- Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Subverted/deconstructed; Tom initially thinks of Summer as one, and pursues a relationship with her even though she flip-flops between being clear that she's not interested in anything serious and leading him on, which leads to getting his heart broken when she dumps him and marries someone else. Thus are explored the very true-to-life hazards of treating a woman as a romantic ideal rather than a human being. Arguably, Tom may have been a Manic Pixie Dream Guy to Summer, who tells him at the end that he taught her that love is real. Word of God on the subject:
"Yes, Summer has elements of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl -- she 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."
- Master of the Mixed Message: It seems like every time Summer tells Tom she's not interested in something serious, she immediately throws a curve ball in the form of hand-holding, kisses or sex. Just before she breaks up with him, she impulsively kisses Tom in the street.
- The worst example of this would be when they have a huge fight, Summer tries to tell him they are Just Friends, he storms out, and Summer goes over to his place in the morning, in the rain, has sex with him and implies she was wrong and wants to stay in the relationship.
- Meaningful Name: Summer and her possible successor, Autumn. Also, the names Tom Hansen and Summer Finn are a Shout-Out to Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.
- Meet Cute: On (Day 4), in the elevator, between Tom and Summer. Also, on (Day 500) / Autumn: (Day 1), another more standard Meet Cute, between Tom and Autumn, as they wait to interview for a job they're competing for. The two Meet Cutes have something in common: one party was already interested beforehand while the other was oblivious to that person's existence. The first time, it's Tom who's already interested and Summer who's been oblivious; the second time it's Tom who's been oblivious (too caught up angsting over Summer) and Autumn who's already interested.
- Mood Whiplash:
- Between romantic elation and romantic disappointment. Repeatedly.
- Tom's reactions to breaking up with Summer is both funny and heartbreaking.
- Never Trust a Trailer: The title and trailer imply that the movie is about the 500 days in the relationship between Summer and Tom. In fact, Summer breaks up with Tom on Day 288, and the remaining days document his attempts to get over her. Furthermore, most viewers of the trailer expected Summer to be a straight portrayal of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl -- considering she's played by Zooey Deschanel and all -- instead of a Deconstruction of the trope.
- Oblivious to Love: Summer to Tom.
- One-Scene Wonder: Chloe Moretz as Rachel, Tom's sister.
- Our Lawyers Advised This Trope: Parodied with the Suspiciously Specific Denial cited below.
- Perspective Reversal: In the beginning, Tom is hopelessly romantic, while Summer does not believe in love. By the end of the movie, their dispositions toward love are inverted.
- Post Modernism: Plenty, including the nonlinear narrative, the spontaneous dance sequence, the onscreen count of the actual 500 days, and one scene which contrasts "Expectations" vs. "Reality" via split-screen.
- Pun-Based Title
- Punny Name: "Summer" in the movie's title.
- Reality Ensues: The movie's climax.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Tom's and Summer's boss.
- Regina Spektor: Has two songs on the soundtrack. The first being "Us" in the opening credits, and "Hero" during the Expectations vs Reality party.
- The Reveal: At a party Tom already finds just about unbearable, he suddenly notices Summer's engagement ring.
- Romantic Comedy: A Deconstruction of the genre in the general vein of Annie Hall and Manhattan.
- Roses Are Red, Violets Are Blue: "Roses are red, violets are blue, / Fuck you, whore." Arguably qualifies as a Precision F-Strike, too.
- Running Gag: Plenty of them.
- The Meaningful Names Tom Hansen and Summer Finn are a Shout-Out to Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.
- See also Suspiciously Specific Denial for an incredibly obscure Shout-Out in the guise of a fake Take That.
- Tom's crowd dance number is suspiciously close to what Questionable Content has described at least twice.
- Summer calls Tom "young Werther". Notice the potential parallel?
- Single-Target Sexuality: Tom for Summer. Even on his blind date, he can't stop talking about Summer (albeit not exactly the nicest things, but still).
- Also, his obliviousness towards Autumn, who had seen him before, but he never noticed her until they meet.
- Spiritual Successor: It has a lot in common with another recent movie that deconstructs the romantic comedy genre, 2008's Definitely Maybe, including but not limited to a flashback-centric narrative structure, an ambiguous, less-than-happy ending, and a female lead named "Summer".
- Spit Take:
Summer: "They used to call me Anal Girl."
- Tom spit-takes*
Summer: "...I was very neat and organized."
- Stalker with a Crush: Very early in Tom's relationship with Summer, one of his friends teases him that he's one of these toward Summer. Of course she overhears.
- Stealth Parody: See Stock Character and Wise Beyond Their Years, below.
- Stock Character: Rachel, the absurdly Wise Beyond Their Years younger sister of main character Tom.
- Stupidest Thing I've Ever Heard: Tom's thoughts about Summer's "PENIS!" game.
- Suspiciously Specific Denial: The film's opening disclaimer: "AUTHOR'S NOTE: The following is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental. Especially you Jenny Beckman. Bitch."
- Take That:
- Parodied in the Suspiciously Specific Denial.
- Played straight when Tom complains about a kind of fashion that isn't even present in the film.
- Teen Genius: Or rather, pre-Teen Genius: Rachel, Tom's kid sister. In her case, Wise Beyond Their Years by so many years that she acts more like a Cool Big Sis (see above).
- This Is for Emphasis, Bitch:
- "Especially you Jenny Beckman. Bitch."
- "Better luck next time... bitch."
- Tragic Dream: Tom has two: 1) Winning back Summer. 2) Becoming a great architect. By the end of the movie, it's possible he's on his way to making the latter dream less tragic.
- Tranquil Fury: Tom smashing plates with a blank expression.
- Truth in Television: Applies to most of the movie, but the Expectations vs. Reality scene is so excruciatingly truthful that it's heartbreaking.
- Unreliable Narrator: A lot of things the Narrator says about Summer turn out to be, if not flat-out incorrect, then at least skewed. It's as if the narrator were Tom himself, looking back at the relationship from years later. See Emotionless Girl, above, for an example.
- Viewers Are Geniuses: The Anachronic Order, of course. In addition, the film includes throw-away allusions (including running gags) to Shakespeare, Magritte, Hopper, Serrano, Bergman, Wilde, and Goethe. Plus, you know, obscure stuff.
- What Is This Thing You Call Love?: Summer's attitude is somewhat of a version of this.
- Wise Beyond Their Years: Tom's pre-teen sister Rachel is possibly the wisest character in the whole film.
- Write Who You Know: The story is inspired by a real romance co-writer Scott Neustadter had. When he showed the script to the woman who inspired the character of Summer, she said she identified more with Tom.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: Many of the characters, but Tom most of all.