Most weeknights I leave work feeling agitated, tired, and defeated. The very last thing I want to do when I get home is prepare a meal for myself, which leaves me with several options. As a very, very, single bachelor, I don’t usually go too over the top unless I’m preparing something for a girl. Dinner usually consists of a protein (either frozen chicken breast (s), ground beef, or steak if I have gotten paid recently) and an accompanying carb like rice, pasta, or cous cous. I try to keep preparation time under twenty minutes, which leaves me with just enough time to take a shower (yes, I shower after work, you heathens), jerk off, and select a tv show or movie to watch before inevitably falling asleep around 9:30. It’s a mundane lifestyle, but it has to be this way when my weekends leave my wallet empty and my dignity nowhere to be found.
I watched a movie called 500 Days of Summer last night. You might have heard of it. It stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt and the always quirky Zooey Deschanel. I was texting intermittently with a close, platonic girlfriend of mine while I watched. She loves it, of course, but she had an interesting take on the movie that I hadn’t noticed before. The first time I watched this movie a few years back, I was going through the messiest breakup of my life, so I, of course, sided with Tom, the sad sack of shit who gets dumped by Summer halfway through the movie and is left to pick up the pieces forgotten and alone. I related to his plight on a personal level, so one could say that I watched the movie through rose-colored glasses that first time. Last night? Last night I had no glasses on. I watched as Switzerland, merely a neutral observer.
According to my friend, Tom is the person you are supposed to leave the movie theater hating, not Summer. I relayed what I remembered about Summer’s character to my friend, and she texted me back astounded, almost offended. Tom was told in the very beginning that she wasn’t looking for anything serious, and he caught feelings anyway. I never noticed this key piece of information because I am a dumbass, and the only thing I concentrated on was the way that Tom was treated by Summer during the relationship and following their break up. She led him on by going to that coworker’s wedding with him. Falling asleep on his shoulder on the train ride home? ARE YOU KIDDING ME, SUMMER? She’s a tease of the highest order. The expectations vs reality scene cut me deep because I’ve been there myself. But what I’m trying to get at is that you should hate both of these characters. They’re both egotistic, self-serving asshats in their own special way.
Between the greeting card job that he absolutely loathes and his love of The Smiths, the world’s very first emo band, Tom is a douchebag and most likely clinically depressed. For girls, he’s that guy you dated in high school or college who clearly is not emotionally stable enough to be in a relationship. This is the guy who needs constant affirmation about the status of the relationship. He’s not fully mature yet, and neither is Tom.
Tom is a naïve puppy that can’t grow up. “She makes me feel like anything is possible and like…like life is worth it.” Puke. Following his breakup, instead of concentrating on work like most people do in that situation, he quits his job, refuses to speak to his friends and becomes a borderline alcoholic, subsiding on Twinkies and Jack Daniels while his 12-year-old sister tries to break him out of his slump. Because who better than an adolescent pre-teen to give a twenty something advice on dating?
Here are two people that work and subsequently meet at a fucking greeting card company. Give me a break. That is not a real job. If I wasn’t such a cynical asshole, I would love this movie. But my idea of love and healthy relationships has been built up and torn down so many times it’s only natural that I am able to find the holes in this storyline and run with it. 500 Days is predicated upon some Hollywood director’s notion of what a relationship should and shouldn’t be. I audibly groaned during the scene when Zooey Deschanel gets on stage for karaoke and sings Nancy Sinatra’s “Sugartown”. Because of course she sings that song with her stupid bangs and raspy, lower-than-normal voice for a girl. She is a Brooklyn hipster’s wet dream.
Both Tom and Summer are tragically flawed characters, by design. Tom, the self-loathing underachiever who finally gets the pretty girl. Summer, for whom is everything is sunshine and fairy dust, is the type that seems to never let anything bother her. People are naturally drawn to her, and if we’re being honest here, she throws Tom a pity fuck. She knew what she was doing the whole movie. Tom thought this was his one true love. Summer knew that this was a fun fling.
You know what happens in real life? Tom never gets up enough courage at that karaoke bar to tell Summer how he really feels and Summer ends up dating an investment broker which in turn allows her to quit her shitty job at the greeting card company. Tom then settles for some Philadelphia 7 and is miserable his entire life.
But you can’t end a movie like that, and because of Tom’s horrible breakup with Summer he realizes that he should pursue his dream of being an architect. Go Tom!
I guess my conclusion here is this: the movie is bad, and you should hate both characters equally. I should have watched re-runs of Seinfeld on Hulu for the thousandth time last night. I guess the silver lining in 500 Days of Summer is that Tom more than likely fucks Minka Kelly following his interview at that high-profile architectural firm. And if he got to do that, then I guess the pity party he threw for himself post-breakup with Summer was worth it. .
Image via YouTube