Let’s be clear about something right at the top: (500) Days of Summer is not the Worst Movie of All Time. Come now. It’s not even the Worst Movie of the past two weeks. That would be Couples Retreat. Nevertheless, it was nominated, and the rules of the Hunt are such that any movie is a potential nominee. That’s the whole point! But it’s not a good movie. Let’s also be clear about that right at the top. It’s actually a pretty bad movie. Far from the worst, but also far from the best. Perhaps its most damnable characteristic is its mediocrity, which it cleverly hides in a thick shell of aesthetic camouflage. Unfortunately, I used up most of my poorly thought-out cliche-filled thoughts about the nature of love-based art last week in the introduction to Couples Retreat, although the fact that I would think the same things after watching both of these movies KIND OF MAKES MY POINT FOR ME. In both instances, the movies purport to explore the complications of love while actually being about something else entirely (free Hawaiian vacation for Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau/free handjob for Wes Anderson and Jean-Pierre Jeunet). And it’s not exactly that there isn’t anything left to say about love, although there probably isn’t anything left to say about love, it’s that saying something INTERESTING about love is hard, and it is much easier to make Speedo jokes, or just have your characters wear hoodies over neckties and talk about The Smiths a lot.

So, Couples Retreat 2: 500 Days Of Couples Retreat, let’s talk about it.

The narrator at the beginning of (500) Days of Summer informs us that this is a story of boy meets girl but that it is NOT a love story. Clever girl. Of course, if it’s not a love story, then what the fuck is it? I’m not sure anyone associated with this movie would actually be able to answer that question, so let’s just move on. Now, the movie is very “cleverly” and “complicatedly” structured, moving back and forth in time to present a portrait of the creation and dissolution of a relationship between Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel. It’s all very “I still remember the first time I saw Pulp Fiction in film school and it blew my mind.” Hey! Guess what? Pulp Fiction is a great movie, and you could choose much worse movies to use as your narrative-constructionist inspiration. But for our purposes, let’s unfurl and undo the structural complexity and lay things out in a linear plot just to get a sense of what happens: Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a would-be architect (OF COURSE HE IS) who is not pursuing his dream of architecture (SPOILER ALERT: he never gets the courage to do so, and he dies at the job he hates) but is instead working at a greeting card company as a copywriter (I’m sorry, what?). All his life, he tells us, he has always dreamed of meeting “the one” and settling down and getting married (I’m sorry, WHAT?). One day, Zooey Deschanel begins working at the greeting card company. Joseph Gordon-Levitt likes her. They both like the music of the Smiths, IF YOU CAN BELIEVE IT. Soul mates, I’m sure. At one point Joseph Gordon-Levitt sexually harasses her, but the movie brushes this off and moves on. Joseph Gordon-Levitt decides he doesn’t like Zooey because he is seriously a 14-year-old girl. We don’t see this happen, but he probably deletes his Facebook account, like, three separate times when Zooey doesn’t click “like” on one of his status updates. Anyway, after a drunken night of karaoke during which they have an impossible barfversation about “love,” they start a friendship. Then she kisses him in the copy room. Now they are fucking in the shower. And just as quickly as it begins, it is over, and they are breaking up. Now Joseph Gordon-Levitt is miserable. He wants to get her back. They see each other at a wedding and dance. He goes to a party at her house and learns that she is engaged to another man. He draws some buildings on his bedroom wall with chalk because architecture. Zooey Deschanel sees him on his favorite park bench (sure) and explains that he was right and that true love does exist, but that she just didn’t love him. Then he goes to an interview for a job as an architect and meets Minka Kelly, and we are led to believe that they will get married and never argue about anything and also her name is Autumn because fuck you.

So, just to clarify, Joseph Gordon-Levitt meets Zoey Deschanel. They go on a couple dates. She breaks up with him. He can’t get his shit together. Then he gets his shit together. THE END. I mean, that’s basically it. But with, like, way more Belle and Sebastian references.

The most obvious precedent for (500) Days of Summer (which, seriously, with the parentheses in the title? And I say that as someone who has an insufferable appreciation for parenthetical asides [no duh]), is Amelie. Actually, Amelie isn’t so much a precedent for this movie as it is its blueprint. If Napoleon Dynamite was Rushmore for assholes, then (500) Days of Summer is Amelie for lazy people. The problem, of course, is that Amelie was already Amelie for lazy people. I’m not trying to blow anyone’s minds or shatter anyone’s dreams, but Amelie, too, buried its emotional failings in a weaponized shell of aesthetic armor. The unanswered question in both that movie and this one is: WHY WOULD THESE PEOPLE FALL IN LOVE?

At no point does anyone in (500) Days of Summer do anything that is actually LOVABLE. Zooey Deschanel is certainly a worthwhile object for the male gaze (DING DONG, JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT’S CHARACTER ISN’T THE ONLY ONE WHO’S BEEN TO COLLEGE) but she doesn’t actually DO anything. She rolls around on a bed, which admittedly, is NOT BAD, but she is stand-offish and guarded. Also: all she talks about is how much she doesn’t want a relationship and doesn’t believe in love, which is a perfectly reasonable worldview, but is not a lovable worldview. By the end of the movie we know this about her: she likes The Smiths and pancakes, and she is OK at karaoke. That is literally IT. Meanwhile, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a hormonal basket-case. Are we supposed to feel bad for him that his love goes unrequited? Because a) I don’t, and b) I don’t know how you could. It’s not weird that a girl who already explained that she did not want a serious relationship is not head-over-heels about a guy who mainly seems to talk about how badly he wants to be in love, whose most trusted advisor is his precocious 11-year-old sister, and who smashes dishes and grows drunken and sullen and petulant when things don’t go his way. Cool! WHAT A CATCH!

The infamous dance sequence looks a lot different when you think of it NOT as an expression of the fluttery, exhilarating feeling of lightness and joy and everything-being-right-in-the-world that one feels in the presence of burgeoning love, and more as the overblown emotional exaggeration of a needy, narrow-shouldered wimp who just had sex with a girl who’s not even sure whether she likes him or not.

Admittedly, having sex with a girl you’re not even sure likes you or not IS NOT TOO SHABBY. I’m just saying, this scene is ridiculous.

A lot of people really liked (500) Days of Summer, and that makes sense. It’s an exceedingly easy movie to watch. It’s just that easy doesn’t equal good. You know when you’re driving along in the car and Sixpence None the Richer comes on and it’s not until 30 seconds before the song is over that you realize that not only did you listen to the whole song but you were singing along, but that Sixpence None the Richer is fucking terrible? That’s what this is. (500) Days of Summer is the Sixpence None the Richer “Kiss Me” of movies. (Incidentally, when I was looking for the Sixpence None the Richer video, I ended up letting it play for two and a half minutes before remembering to close the tab. I am my own control group!)

There is a moment early in the movie when Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s foul-mouthed little sister tells him that “just because she likes the same weird crap as you doesn’t make her your soulmate.” This is a halfway decent point about relationships, but it’s a REALLY good point about this movie. If you strip away the pop culture references and the MTV2 editing, it’s two-dimensional characters with very little in common and a nonsensical rant about greeting cards (as if greeting cards are something we all agree are a problem in this world?). Just because (500) Days of Summer claims to like the same weird crap I like doesn’t make it a good movie. ZING. Ya played yourself, (500) Days of Summer! You look like a punk! (But not as much like a punk as you think.)

Next week: A History of Violence. As always, please leave your suggestions in the comments or in an email. And if you haven’t done so already, please consult the Official Rules.

Comments (332)
  1. OH HAPPY DAYYYYY (haven’t even read this yet, that’s how happy I am that this is nominated and I have to show that happiness)

    • pretty pathetic that you were so desperate to be “FIRST!” that you had to post your comment before even reading the blog post in question, guy

    • To make your day even better, Steve Winwood replied to one of your comments. That’s like meeting Jesus or Joseph Gordon Levitt.

      • Plus I think a lot of Gabe’s review is unfair for a variety of fucking reasons.

        A. Movies are short so you’re only going to get a summarized version of “character” and a lot you will just have to assume, in terms of the depth of a person and their interests. To say Character X is only about these two things because that’s all we get to see is a totally inane and shallow criticism.

        B. In life as in art, “Love” doesnt make sense and is often wildly irrational. If I had a a nickel for every stupid crush, and out of proportion response I have felt toward unrequited love interests and exaggerated heartbreak that I have felt in my day then I would be rich enough to vote republican. Gabe the robot who feels nothing doesnt understand this and he can go to hell because I liked this movie.

        • I agree 100% with these two points.

          Also the parentheses in the title are a (too) subtle reference to the fact that the 500 days are fully enclosed, capped, finished. The 500 days of the relationship are complete, making the possibility of their reconciliation impossible. The movie is just a reflection on a relationship based largely on JGL’s infatuation, confused for love.

          This is an emotion I can certainly relate to. It also sort of answers the “not a love story” comment.

        • I very much agree with this rebuttal. I think Summer is a perfect repudiation of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope — she has a whole other inner life that we’re not privy to because our POV, Tom, isn’t privy to it. But there’s complexity there — the girl that dances with her ex while days away from getting engaged to someone else is an interesting character, and her speech at the end is really sad and good.

          Also yes of course to point B.

        • Who would have guessed Stevie was the type to get infatuated?

        • In reference to “B.” I knew it, Steve! And when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.

        • It’s not like Summer’s deficiencies as a character only exist because we didn’t get to know her well enough. She’s a terrible character because we learn basically nothing important about her in the entire time she stays on camera.

          There’s more depth to Timon and Pumbaa if you think about it. Summer just rambles about unimportant crap and never once shows the overly emotional (read: pussy) protagonist any notable bit of affection.

          In summary – annoying character falls in love with boring girl who doesn’t appear to like him and then spends way too long whining about it until it inevitably fails.

          • The most grating thing about this film was that Summer’s sole defining character trait was that she didn’t want to settle down. And then she goes and gets engaged, because women can’t exist in movies unless they are looking for a man, are the love interest in need of rescuing, or are someone’s mom. GAAAAAAAAAAHHHH.

          • and to add even more to Summers annoying character who acts like shes too good for love, she totally toys with the guy who is obviously infatuated with her. even though she tells him shes not interested in ‘anything serious’ shes the one who starts making it serious and more than friends. and doesnt seem to care that this guy is going to get hurt, cuz hes an unrealistically emotional man-boy.

          • I haven’t seen this movie but from what you guys are saying it sounds very similar to How Boys See Girls by David Gilmour, the awesome Canadian writer, not the dude from Pink Floyd. A very good book, far better than this movie I’m sure because I don’t think anyone has or would ever apply the adjective “twee” to it.

            I would say it’s available at your local book store but it’s probably not. HOWEVER! Sparrow Nights is just as awesome, if not more so, and it’s probably available somewhere. Ditto Lost Between Houses.

        • Well put. I thought it was a pretty good depiction of love in your 20′s. You’re not a kid anymore, you’re starting to experiment with “serious relationships” because you think you should, but you’re not yet mature enough to handle it. Maybe it hit this reviewer a little too close to home.

          • I can’t wait for the editors note Gabe makes in the Monsters Ball reminding you all to CHILL OUT.

            You understand the purpose of the WMOAT article right?

        • I have the weirdest boner right now.

        • Ok, I know that this is WAYYYY to late to be responding to a comment and no one will ever read this, but I just have to say something. I rarely comment on videogum and I understand that Steve is a big man around these interwebs, but I swear to god he must be trolling. Since I can’t sleep, I will feed ze trolls.

          So, totally inane and shallow criticism, says the man (boy?) who just proved he knows nothing about movies, or rather, good movies. Yes, obviously movies are generally 90-120 minutes, and so we can only learn a limited amount about the characters. That’s one reason why making GOOD movies with GOOD characters is so difficult. A writer must fully flesh out a character in a very short space. He or she might only have a few minutes or pages to make the audience feel like they know a human being completely. That’s not easy, in fact, it’s extremely difficult to use only a few details and a single action to show who someone is and make the audience connect, love or hate them. So if you know absolutely nothing meaningful about a character except for a few inane details (I LIKE RINGO BECAUSE I’M QUIRKY DERP DERP), then the screenwriter has FAILED. The movie has FAILED.

          Think about the opening scene of Oceans 11. Just by watching George Clooney teach poker we learn lots about who this man is, and we start to root for him. Or think about the opening scene of Michael Clayton, we learn everything we need to know about Mr. Clayton from a single, rushed conversation.

          If by the end of the movie and everything that has happened we still don’t know anything meaningful about the characters, then the movie is fucking stupid. You’re stupid too, probably.

          If I could, I would have sex with your mom and take pictures to post on the internet and then make fun of her in the comments.

          • I find your more recent comment about Monsters needing to get a life extremely
            funny in light of this comment.

            I’m glad I saved my downvote.

        • I think it’s silly that anyone would take any of the drivel Gabe espouses seriously. He’s not what I’d like to think of as an intelligent thinker, or an analytical righter. He seems to just spout out a bunch of emotionally charged nonsense, without any logical reasoning to back up any of his points or statements. He’s an idiot in short.

  2. But

    She’s Pretty

  3. Law Abiding Citizen is the absolute worst movie I have ever seen.

    • Yes I have nominated this before and will always say that it is the worst. Like I think they tried to make Jamie Foxx as big an asshole as possible and succeeded but he’s the protagonist? So we’re supposed to like him right?

      • I kept feeling like they wanted me to root for the implausible psycho-killer, like they were trying to make him Sam Jackson in Time to Kill. I know I wasnt supposed to like Jamie Foxx because at two different points in the movie he literally, not-even-shitting says “Fuck his civil rights!” Also the heavy-handed and contradictory political messages, what’s up with those?

      • Oh please yes. What a hateful, stupid mess of a movie. This needs to be in the Hunt!

    • Have you seen NELL? I recommend seeing NELL and then deciding which is worst.

      To recap NELL: Liam Neeson finds Jodi Foster on an island where she grew up in the wild and therefore has her own language. He’s a linguist who wants to study her, which a judge decrees he can do, as judges are often remanding orphans to the scrutiny of science. But of course she is also a human being (technically), so I forget but in the end we probably all learn a lesson about dignity. Along the way, lots of Oscar-winner Jodi Foster sounding like Ben Stiller in Simple Jack — just reams of lines like “Chicka chicka ree ree tiss tiss chicka!”

      I nominate NELL.

    • Heh I asked for a ticket for Where the Wild Things Are and the box office guy almost gave me one for Law Abiding Citizen. Same diff.

  4. The Smiths? I don’t date anybody unless they’re into this shit:

  5. i actually really liked this until the very, very end. i loved the idea of a romantic comedy with a shitty, fucked up ending and no point.

    i also thought that it was done really well from a film making perspective. it mocked itself. it was cool looking.

    i got to watch zooey deschanel for like 2 hours.

    then autumn happened.

  6. I feel like the Reality/Expectations scene perfectly describes this movie since I went in based on hype of people whose opinions expecting to love it, since I love Zooey and JGL and this type of movie is my type of movie, but ultimately I found her kinda cold and I don’t know I liked him I guess

  7. Guys, if you’re nominating films (or just want to read older entries), I’ve compiled a list of all the films that have ever been WMOAT-ed.

  8. I nominate The Happening for WMOAT.

    Although, it might break the Hunt, because we would all have to lay down our arms and agree that we have finally indeed found the worst movie of all time, so maybe in favor of keeping this going we should hold off?

    • (See wertrew’s post above.)

      • Actually you should just ignore me. I could have sworn The Happening was already done, and I’m baffled that it apparently hasn’t. I must be thinking of the many hilarious conversations that have taken place in the WMOAT comments about how awful that movie is. Or maybe it’s because I’m 80 years old and have dementia. Hard to say, really.

    • I am okay with this nomination as long as it doesn’t interfere with the consumption of my lemon drink.

    • You make a good point. Maybe after The Happening, this column could be renamed “The Hunt For A Movie That Is Worse Than The Happening (Even Though We Are Pretty Sure There Isn’t One, But It Doesn’t Hurt to Double Check)”

    • This movie most certainly deserves the title of WMOAT, buuuuut I have a theory: with each new movie that M Night Symalamawhoha makes, he dives deeper into new depths of shittiness (just look at his filmography in chronological order if you don’t believe me). This leads me to believe there only two possible outcomes for this man’s film career.

      1) He eventually creates the single worst piece of garbage ever put to film that actually causes people to become physically and mentally ill and causes like, wars and stuff.

      2) He creates the greatest film of all time that wins every award ever (and like 3 EGOTs) and ends up being the catalyst for curing cancer and ending world hunger.

      So, ya know, just give it time people.

      • So you’re saying M. Night Shamyalan = J.O. Incandenza. That… makes some sense, actually.

      • I’ve noticed the same thing about his filmography, and in that regard, he is actually very talented. Go ahead and try to write a movie worse than his last. Even on purpose, I bet you couldn’t do it. And yet, somewhere in the mind of M. Night Shymalan there exists a film so bad that it will make people say “Wow, and I thought The Happening was the worst.”

  9. I’ve got knives in my eyes, I’m going home sick.

  10. You know, since they love the Smiths so much, I think I’ll watch this movie once the Smiths reuinte.

    • Maybe when Morrissey isn’t a racist?

      • Or when people stop looooooving him and ignoring his racist opinions?

        Dedicated Smiths fans are THE WORST.

        • I am a Smiths fan. I am a Morrissey fan. I am the worst.

          • You spelled “best” wrong.

          • I want to clarify that I am not being flippant nor defensive to Meaverly. I am very aware of Morrissey’s history of saying racist things and it is something that bothers me and that I spend a fair amount of time thinking about when I listen to his work.

            I am not an apologist. I will not and cannot explain everything that Morrissey has said in some way that makes it all okay okay or bearable. It isn’t possible. If we were only dealing with some songs here or there, we could talk about how Morrissey writes about terrible characters (like murderers) and how he is sensitive toward them, or is able to humanize them in a meaningful way (which he can), and that this is all just part of his work, writing about English outsiders. And if were only taking about a few off-hand remarks in his youth that are clearly geared toward nothing more than winding people up, we could talk about that and maybe come to some comfortable conclusion. But it isn’t and we can’t.

            Morrissey has a long and clear history of saying racist things. Is he a racist? I don’t know–I can’t know a person inside their mind. I can barely know in mine. If he were an American politician, I would tear him apart (in a long internet comment). I can only assume that he is a terrible person.

            Yet, the music he recorded with the Smiths, and much of what he has recorded as a solo artist has moved me in ways that only work of art of the highest order do. Every time I hear “Suffer Little Children” or “Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want” or “I Want the One I Can’t Have” or “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out” some part deep inside me that I usually keep inaccessible to the world around me is changed. It is just that indescribable and inexhaustible thing that art does.

            But how do I accord this with Morrissey’s clear human failings? I don’t think I can, which is a disappointment to me. How can I trust an artist’s artistic and moral judgments when they are so clearly wrong about certain basic things? I don’t know. Edgar Allen Poe was a racist. Eliot and Pound were anti-semites. Faulkner was an adulterer. Thomas Mann was terrible, terrible, terrible to his children. I don’t know how to reckon these things.

            If I purged my house of works of art created by people who are horrible in some way, I don’t know what I would have left. Probably just some Mike Watt solo records.

            So, I still listen to the Smiths, a lot (three of the three CDs in my CD player at home are Smiths albums and have been for months). I listen to Morrissey. I have to trust myself has an adult to be able to be moved by that which my moral compass says is right and to be aware of that which it says is not.

            That is not a whole satisfactory answer, but it is all I have. I am sorry this is so long, I just didn’t want you to think I was giving you a sarcastic answer.

          • Interesting. You think too much. I think too much too, so high five.

            That’s a bit flippant, because I don’t honestly believe it’s possible to think too much. I think that too many people think far too little and that the world would be a better place if more people thought too much. But in this case, I’m not sure that thinking too much goes anywhere other than mental exhaustion.

            I like the Smiths and Morrissey too. I’m not such a fan that I even know what racist things Morrissey has said – apparently multiple times – in the past. If I DID know what he’d said, I’d probably put it down to his mostly subconscious desire to be a Proper Romantic English Gentleman, which is my impression of him. I think he wants to be appreciated as a Romantic in the same vein as Byron and Shelley and Keats – who all had their eccentricities and tragic tales – but he also seems kinda infatuated with Proper England, for lack of a better term. I mean, he obviously despises it in a lot of his songs, but I think he also craves Proper England’s approval. Again, just my impression.

            So if I were going to apologize for his racism, I’d be tempted to suggest that his views are a kind of confused melange of these two impulses which – to me – are evident in his music. But I’m not gonna apologize.

            Obviously, there are a lot of theories and schools of thought as to how much the artist’s personality or intent matter to the understanding of a work of art. I don’t think they matter much at all, for the same reason Mans stated. I only know Morrissey or any artist through their works. Whatever picture I construct of them from those pieces is more a picture of myself as revealed by the work of art than it is a picture of the artist. Or, to put it another way, whatever idea I form of the artist as a person reveals more about me than it does about the artist in question.

            So, to sum up my doctoral thesis here, what I’m saying is, if there are works that any given artist has produced which touch you or mean anything at all to you, it seems silly to me to feel conflicted or guilty for being touched just because you’re not part of the same hive-mind as the artist. Ultimately, our opinions are unimportant (not completely irrelevant, but they are not the most important thing). You don’t learn very much about anyone by arguing opinions with them. Art communicates on a deeper level of understanding than opinion, at least when it’s doing what it’s supposed to. So let it do its thing and don’t worry too much about it.

            This doesn’t mean you should be an empty, appreciative receptacle for every piece of pop culture garbage thrown in your face. I hope that’s obvious. I’m just talking about things that mean something, for whatever reason.

          • Mike Watt solo albums? But he never returned Kathleen Hanna’s Annie soundtrack!
            (I kid and don’t mean to denigrate such a well-described thought process in regards to consuming art made by complicated and sometimes fundamentally unlikeable humans. However, I have been waiting to make that joke since 1996.)

          • “Morrissey has a long and clear history of saying racist things. Is he a racist? I don’t know–I can’t know a person inside their mind.”

            I’ll make it easy for you – yes, he’s a racist.

    • “To die by this MOVIE’s side. What a TERRIBLE way to die.” – Morrissey

  11. How cool is it that the movie STARTS ITSELF BY CALLING THE GIRL A BITCH? Like, so cool. WAY TO TAKE THE HIGH ROAD, MARC WEBB!

    • Exactly. Before I’d seen it, I’d read some of the criticisms, but I was still prepared to enjoy it. It sounded like it had all the dumb things that normally get to me in one of these movies: adorable actors, heart string-tugging subject matter, song and dance numbers, etc. And then this. It was like a slap in the face.

      I understand that maybe it’s supposed to prepare us for Tom’s immaturity, like a wink about what a tool he is when he first begins his film “journey,” or whatever. But it’s Marc Webb’s voice that’s saying it, and isn’t he supposed to be at the conclusion of his maturity journey (on which this film is mostly based)? I mean, it’s not like he’s calling some fictional woman a bitch–this is a real life human he’s calling out at the beginning of his major motion picture. Like, “that’ll teach her for dumping me!”


    • “This is a not a Spiderman love story. It is a story of Spiderman meets girl… A BITCHY GIRL.


      BITCH.” – Marc Webb’s Spiderman

  12. “needy, narrow-shouldered wimp”


  13. I went to see this movie because it was so aggressively marketed directly to me that I felt like I owed it to the marketing people. And, I liked it. JGL is cute. Zooey is cute. The dancing scene is cute. It’s cute. Not the best movie of all time or anything, but an enjoyable 90 minutes.

    • This is exactly where I’m at with it too. I was worried Gabe would just eviscerate this movie and make me feel stupid for enjoying its cuteness but I identify with that Sixpence None The Richer example and I recognize that I am that person.

      • Yeah, that Sixpence None The Richer example actually made me want to see this movie, which I haven’t yet because after I heard about the Autumn thing at the end, I was like, “Yuck. Gross.” But I am one of those people who sing along to Sixpence None The Richer and I actually prefer their version of that Crowded House song to the original, which I know is blasphemy. It bothered me at first but now I’m old and I’m just like, “Eh, I guess that’s who I am. There are worse things I could be.” So the next time I’m in the mood for the cinematic equivalent of Sixpence None The Richer (SNTR for short from now on because typing the whole thing is annoying… even though I guess that’s the last time I’ll type it) this is what I’ll watch.

    • This is a great description of the reason I saw Scott Pilgrim.

  14. When I saw this movie, the entire time I thought, “Wow, both of these people are kind of insufferable. WHY CAN’T I STOP WATCHING, AND WHY AM I ENJOYING THIS SO MUCH?!”

  15. Watching this movie is sort of hard for me, because I was really into this girl and she was sort of into me and I was in love and she was in like and then she left me out of the blue before we got a chance to watch this movie which we had always talked about watching and I was all bitter and emo and listened to a lot of Smiths and then I saw this and felt ridiculous and the point of this story which you can all tell is very sad but still very interesting and which I’ll continue to anyone of you who asks for the whole thing because it just keeps on being every bit as interesting as the first bit is believe in your dreams/Zooey is pretty/don’t forget to vote.

    • Huckabeast, I sympathize, like most adults probably can. I loved this movie because I loved the leads, I loved the same shit they were into, and I had just been through a, I love him but he only likes me relationship that made me feel awful. Meanwhile this movie had all those things but reminded me of perspective and moving on and happy dancing.

      • You guys are lucky. This summer I was in like with a guy, but he just kinda-liked me whereas I like-liked him, and then things got kinda weird and combative between us, then we started talking again in September but it seems like he just felt bad and just wanted attention/to string me along some more. So that’s that.

        I guess what I’m saying is, doesn’t Zooey Deschanel look a lot like Katy Perry?

    • I think breakups exist just to give us an excuse to listen to more Smiths.

  16. not to mention this movie’s brutal, ‘deliverance’ style rape scene where joseph gordon levitt sings “train in vain” by the clash.

    imagine the meeting where this was pitched to the heads of the studio. (rachel dratch voice) “WE’RE GONNA MAKE A PICTURE ABOUT YOUNG PEOPLE WHO LIKE THE MUSIC AND THE FANCY COFFEES AND THEY FALL IN LOVE.”

  17. AVATAR!!!! (500) hours of the most painfully low-grade pandering for art-house status with the lowest common denominator.

  18. At least Lyla Garrity makes an appearance.

  19. Best. Post. Ever.

  20. That dance sequence reminds me of Peter Parker’s, “Rain Drops Keep Fallin’ On My Head” scene in Spider-Man 2…

  21. Zooey Deschanel’s eyes are dead and her range of acting spans from Zoloft to Prozac. I’m not saying I don’t like her, but she has a weird distance that works in some of her movies, but not as a love interest.

  22. How I feel about 500 Days of Summer is grounded in the circumstances that I first saw it. I was in the middle of the worst summer of my life, working a job 60 hours a week and just miserable all around. Then my brother and I went and saw it and it just felt great. The dancing scene in particular means a lot to me actually: it reminded me of what it felt like to be REALLY happy. I didn’t go in knowing anything about the movie and I was really charmed. I think you got really stiffed if you had somebody tell you it was going to be great, because that’s a strange frame of mind to go into the movie with I think. tl;dr you had to be really sad to enjoy this movie a lot.

  23. I think I hate this romantic comedy more than I hate all of the other ones because it pretended to be something else and it roped me in (read: I hate myself more than I hate romantic comedies). I thought perhaps I’d see it and it WOULDN’T be sexist garbage with a two-dimensional female character that the three-dimensional male character (with hopes, dreams, and an eventual career) is lusting after, but well, you know the rest. Just like the Hangover, it had all the potential to be really good, but it just came down to laziness and dumbing down. As I’ve said before, the best thing about this movie was Christina Hendricks’s husband. And also getting to look at pretty people for two hours.

    • Ha. Christina Hendrick’s husband’s name is totally “Christina Hendrick’s husband”. Pronounced “eye-on” of course.

    • Also, JGL’s throw-away job is basically my dream job. So shut up, Joseph Gordon-Levitt (so that you can kiss me, I mean). #unemploymentgum

    • Wait, how did they dumb down The Hangover? It already had a spectacularly dumb premise and a cast of comedians known for playing dumb characters.

      • I think the cast actually had the potential to do better work if the jokes had been smarter. Zach, Senor Chang, and Andy from the Office are great physical comedians. And yes the premise was dumb, but that means that they could have gone almost anywhere with it. It was a weird mix of mostly frat boy humor and very occasional genius. But I guess you’re right: I was basically saying the movie would have been better if it had just been a better movie.

  24. The movie also presents an LA lifestyle that I just don’t think exists. Even people who live downtown do things outside of downtown and don’t typically wear neckties to their jobs at greeting card offices. Although I do know a ton of people who treat the Burbank Ikea like a Starbucks, so they got that right. I was so weirded out by this that I looked into it and discovered that the movie was originally set in San Francisco. They just didn’t change anything after the move to LA. So the movie is locationally lazy, is the point I’m trying to make here.

    • Also, Bad Boys 2 is the worst movie of all time. Just want to be clear on that, too.

      • What about the scene where the “bad boys” go to Cuba and drive a hummer through shanty homes of thousands of poor people?

    • I’m from SF and I can definitely see how this movie was meant to exist there! Eyes opened, etc. I am sad that they changed it, though it would have given me a fanatical devotion to it. SF movies seem to begin and end in the late 60s – 70s.

      • I think we can all agree that the “movies set in San Francisco” tide crested with The Room in 2003. I can’t imagine anyone using the city as a character better than Tommy Wiseau did.

        • Too true, Cold Things. I omitted The Room because in my mind it is a less of a film and more of the the greatest piece of outsider art I’ve had the privilege of experiencing, but you are right. What would it have been without the 50000 establishing shots of Union Square during the Johnny’s birthday scene?

    • “The movie also presents an LA lifestyle that I just don’t think exists.”

      -They tried to make a movie about people sitting in their apartments who alternated their time between watching TV and jerking it to internet porn, but it lacked sequel potential. Stay tuned for “500 Days Of Autumn”.

  25. right, this movie is trying to make us believe that there are men out there that have emotions and want to communicate about their relationship. because that does. not. exist.


  26. Hmmmm…

    So, I was going through a shitty break-up last summer when this movie came out- and it helped. I’m not sure how it helped, I didn’t meet a dude named Autumn and I remain single.

    However, I agree with Gabe’s assessment of this movie- for all of its faults. But I still like this movie and it helped me make sense of an asshole back in 2009.

    • Thanks for sharing that, because that I also was going through a similar situation when I saw the movie, and it also helped me “make sense of an asshole”. One part that really stuck with me was when JGL (I can’t remember his character’s name since he wasn’t named after a season) looked back at the different moments in their relationship and realized that Summer wasn’t really as into him as he remembered.

      For instance, he was reminiscing about an instance (did I just use the word instance twice? whatevs.) wherein he was goofing around in a record store with Summer to her amusement. He realizes that reality was not as he initially remembered it- she was showing small signs of embarrassment, and that the smile plastered on her face was as fake as her indie cred. That probably doesn’t sound like it would be reassuring to a viewer who had recently been dumped, but it did help… you guys can feel free to analyze that.

      • Someone previously posted that her liking Ringo the most was an example of her being a “vacuous contrarian” which I loved and agreed with.

        Tom- the dude JGL played- has room to grow and change….Summer, does not and will not.

        I love when assholes make you realize things!

        • I don’t know about that.

          She said she wasn’t into a relationship and then she fell into a relationship. Just not with that dude. To me, that shows that she’s changed, but we just don’t see it because the movie’s through his eyes. Also, Tom may have grown and changed, but he also may have just become obsessed with a new girl who isn’t right for him. After Autumn, can Winter be far behind?

          I’m not saying she’s not a vacuous contrarian. But… they both sort of sucked, right? I mean, what kind of idiot lets himself fall head over heals with somebody who flat-out tells him that she doesn’t want a relationship? And I guess it also bothers me that people appear to think she therefore shouldn’t have boned him. Are women not allowed to just want sex and go after it when it’s offered? It’s not like she hid that fact. It’s kind of douchey, I suppose. But he’s hot. I’d want to bone him without having a relationship, too.

          Wow. Lookit me! I guess I just hated this movie. Mostly because it crippled poor, hot, Matthew Gray Gubler.

          And, as always, I nominate The Love Guru. A worse movie you will not find. I will continue to nominate it until the WMOAT feature acknowledges that fact.

          • i upvoted your comment not because it started with “I don’t know about that” but with “I don’t know about that” preceded by a picture of smooth Horatio taking off his sunglasses.
            (obviously, I read it in his voice)

          • “They’re both vacuous contrarians…” *Takes off sunglasses* “Aren’t they?”

  27. As a female who has a major crush on both JGL and ZD (we call her that, right?), I love this movie duh no doy duh. But also it tries so hard and it’s so obvious, just like every hipster who loves this movie.

    Also, does anyone here know how sad it makes me that the WMOAT movies need to have a large theater release? Because holy shit, if we’re doing ZD movies, FLAKES, ANYONE? You’re lucky you’re so cute, ZD (I like this. Let’s all call her that.)

  28. Can we all agree that when movies have scenes with “wise” children who say very insightful things to grown ups about love and such it is ridiculous. Like, obviously kids are perfectly capable of being insightful in their simplicity when it comes to some things like bubbles and clouds and playing ect, but if the person I went to for advice in life was my 11 year-old sister, my life would be full of terrible advice. “What should I do about my relationship?”
    “I don’t know, justin beiber?”

    Children are not tiny wise mature adults movies! they are children.

    • “Can we all agree that when movies have scenes with “wise” children who say very insightful things to grown ups about love and such it is ridiculous.”

      that is a cheap gimmick that will get you a B in Screenwriting 101. and what I mean by that is that I used that as a cheap gimmick and got a B in Screenwriting 101.

    • My friend had the same issue with the movie, and I agree, but if they’re going down that route, at least they had the sense to cast Chloe Moretz, who is that rare breed: GOOD child actor.

      Otherwise, you run the risk of getting Jonathan Lipnicki, and then we’re all fucked.

    • The profoundest things I’ve ever heard children say were actually them expressing abstract thoughts, and me being impressed that kids so young could think abstractly. Other than that, “wise children” are just like any other two-dimensional sidekicks for the stupid protagonists to use as mirrors. Which, shut up, lazy writing.

  29. How about “THERE ARE CHINAMEN IN OUR KITCHEN” trying to be a CHARMING LINE?!?

  30. Hello Everybody!!!

    I tried and failed at streaming this movie for everybody yesterday (THANK YOU MR.VODKA!), but I’m just going to lick my wounds and try again.

    I worked out all the kinks.

    So this week is History of Violence (YAY!).

    If anyone is interested what day would be good to screen it for y’all?

    I’m thinking Wednesday, but I’m open to suggestions. It would have to be after 6 p.m. pacific time. Anyway see y’all in chat.

  31. I really like this movie, but that Sixpence None the Richer comparison is pretty spot-on.

    Also, how the hell did A History of Violence get on the list?

    Not to knock anyone’s taste in movies but if that movie is one of the worst movies you’ve ever seen, then you have only ever seen excellent movies.

    • Both Eastern Promises and A History of Violence were nominated when Gabe announced he was accepting nominations for this next round of WMOAT. It was so divisive (I guess) that when Gabe announced the next round winners(?) he said that WE had to choose whether he would review Eastern Promises or A History of Violence, and then more people voted for A History in the comments thread.

      This is classic Gabe.

  32. Sorry, you guys, I love this movie.

  33. I thought the story telling was really interesting, but also Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was also told in a nonlinear way. Basically, (500) Days of Summer is to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is what as The Event is to LOST.

  34. I wouldn’t say this movie was great or anything, but it WAS pretty fucking adorable. Or maybe it’s just that I find Zooey and JGL so adorable? I don’t know. I liked it, though. Quite a bit, actually.

    However, I do see Gabe’s point about a lot of it, which leads me to believe that, yeah, JGL and Zooey were kinda the only reasons I liked it so much. Way to be shallow, self. :/

  35. the reason this movie upset me so much was not that it was the worst movie of all time (clearly, it’s not), it was that it was marketed to be so much more than the shitty, cliched, rom-com (minus most of the the com) that it is. i went in expecting to have my little argyle socks charmed off, and left hating the same shallow, unlikeable characters you see in every fucking rom-com. arrgggh, this movie.

    also, this (“also her name is Autumn because fuck you.”) times a million billion.

  36. This movie was a pleasant surprise! I was expecting the worst, and I got mediocre.

    I liked that they made Summer an idealized indie dreamgirl who actually pretty much sucks. That is a real type of person that doesn’t show up in movies much! (Favorite part of the movie was when she said her favorite Beatle was Ringo. That’s a really good way to establish a character as an vacuous contrarian!) I didn’t like the main character, though, so that was a little rough. And teh ending was teh horrible. Like, you couldn’t have come up with a more bitingly unfair parody ending. But that was the real ending!

    • My ex-boyfriend used to say his favourite Beatle is Ringo. Coincidentally, we broke up right before I watched this movie. Anyway, just commenting to say that I can confirm that this character assessment is, in my experience, perfectly true and right. The end.

    • Ringo Starr was a very talented musician and a very funny actor. I don’t see anything wrong with liking him the best.

      • no matter how talented he is, arguing for ringo as the best beatle is like saying that any of the other 4 were the best from the jackson 5.

        • Well, yes, I think that if someone is saying that Ringo is their favorite because it is a “cute” and “ironic” thing to say, and that they think this because they themselves don’t understand Ringo’s musical talent, it is terrible. And also, I am not saying that this is not why Summer says it in the movie–she is, at least in the male protagonist’s eyes (and the male filmmakers’ eyes) terrible.

          I am just, in a general and digressive way, standing up for Ringo as a musician who you could like the best. If you were a drummer, there is a lot to admire in his playing (just as there is much to admire in McCartney’s bass playing).

          (And for the record, George is my favorite and I think “All Things Must Pass” is probably better than anything the Beatles did together. That is a great, great record.)

      • All these replies are definitely a justification for my “in my experience” caveat. Really and truly, I love Ringo Starr and think he’s adorable, and he’s arguably the nicest Beatle (though George was cool with Eric Clapton just stealing his wife, so there’s that).

        So I’ll just say this: there’s a certain yucky posturing vibe that comes from some painfully douchey hipster guy saying that his favourite Beatle is Ringo.

  37. I, for one, found this movie VERY hard to watch (because it’s hard to see through all my constant eye-rolling).

    • I started it 3 different times and only got through it on the 4th. It made me uncomfortable. I think it’s because I related to JGL’s character in that we’re both dumb pig-headed people who have pursued others who have no real interest in us due to a naive interpretation of what “true love” is.

    • Yes! Maybe it’s just that eye-rolling is my default setting when I see hipsters, but I eye-rolled my way through this entire film, to the point where I got a headache. Only finished it because I was on a 13 hour flight and well, what else is there to do?

  38. The Jeunet comment almost made me punch my computer screen on reflex until I realized that, no, you did not mean to imply any working association between Jeunet and this film. Notice how I left out Wes Anderson. Not that I dislike many Anderson films, but his films are in a different league from Jeunet’s. One of which I like a lot more.

  39. This movie also resulted in an endless barrage of people yelling “PENIS!” wherever I went.

    Then I realized my fly has been broken for the last two weeks.

  40. I was just fine with this movie. It was a noble narrative effort – no more, no less.

    By the way, the bench they sit on near Angels’ Flight is immortalized with a plaque IRL. The wife and I went there, and six college girls were taking pictures of themselves on it. Universal Studios Orlando needs to get on this shit and make the (500) Days of Summer Interactive Bench-sperience.

  41. Many of the WMOAT nominees for this round could definitely take Worst Recent Movie, or Worst Movie of the Month of September, or whatever, but I think we’re still reaching for the “Of All Time” part. For my money, the worst movie of all time is still Monkeybone. It ruined movies. It killed the movies and the movies’ children for seven generations. It is obnoxious, it “stars” Brendan Fraser and that lady with the annoying voice from Will & Grace, it criminally wastes Dave Foley and John Turturro, and it perpetuates the insane early-2000s myth that Chris Kattan was funny or interesting in some way. It makes women faint and men angry.

    Please, Gabe, bring transparency and accountability to this process, and pick the candidate that will work harder and more horribly for you than any other movie ever has or will.

  42. Best thing to come out of this film:

  43. (500) Days of Sughmmer

  44. This is easy going fluff that’s inexplicably beloved by hipsters.

    But if there’s an inexplicably loved movie in the quirky rom-com/attempting-to-define-a-generation mold that deserves the WMOAT treatment (other than Garden State) it would have to be Reality Bites.

    Seriously, ladies, I have no idea why so many of you love Reality Bites other than Ethan Hawke being dreamy in it, because that movie is one of the most infuriating movies I’ve ever seen. I hated is as a kid and I hate it now and I hate it’s message: treat a woman like garbage until she loves you. Great message, 90s flannel-wearers. :(

    • In the realm of comparing 90s flannel wearing assholes:

      Jordan Catalano>whoever Ethan Hawke played


    • reality bites was dumb but winona ryder was pretty in that one

    • Yes, TS–I have tried several times to nominate Reality Bites. Ethan Hawke=DO NOT WANT.

    • It’s very ironic (YES I KNOW WHAT THE WORD MEANS, FUCK YOU ETHAN HAWKE) that the demographic is supposed to be all these anti-establishment post-grads when really? The whole movie felt like an ad for so many things: 7 Eleven, Gap, Pizza Hut, the list goes on.

    • Whoa whoa whoa. I just finished watching that for the zillionth time. I firmly believe that I wouldn’t have made it through my early 20s (relatively) unscathed if it weren’t for Reality Bites. Not for the romance so much as the realization that a lot of other people don’t know what the fuck they’re doing with their lives–people don’t say that in real life, you know? At least not the people I went to college with, overachieving jerks. That movie will always have a special place in my heart.

      • I didn’t make it through my 20s unscathed, even relatively, but yes! For me too, this movie is one of those things where you had to be there, at a certain point in time and at a certain age and with a certain degree of naivete/gullibility, to understand why it meant anything to anyone, ever. I can’t say that it’s a good movie, and every criticism of it I’ve ever heard has made me nod and say, “True enough.” BUT! It meant something to me once, and for the exact reason you articulated, so good job articulating my thoughts and emotional responses to pop culture, you.

    • Because it was a spot-on commentary of post-grad life. But I agree- he was a douche and she would be better off without either of them!

    • Another vote for Reality Bites for the WMOAT.

      Get er done Gabe the Cable Guy.

  45. New nominee for WMOAT: Kickboxing Academy.

    It’s an atrocious movie, but also this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YkRBqDwLpn4

  46. Some of the picks round of the HWOMAT seem pretty soft-lob and more about generating site hits than really getting to the heart of the worst movie ever. I think it is safe to say that all the movies (except possibly Amelia) have some type of audience. I nominate the movie Edward as the WMOAT. Qualifications:
    1. Transposing mediums (theatre play to motion picture)
    2. Hates the viewer. Every frame is akin to one shallow pass from a potato peeler over your eyeball. From cinematography, to dialouge, to plotline, I can’t think of any audience that would find enjoyment in this film.
    3. Story out of context. This was filmed almost 20 years after the play came out so any message it may have held originally has been horribly, horribly displaced.
    4. Trys to make a point and fails miserably. Possibly related to reason #3 but I’m pretty sure this story barely had a premise when it was written and is now completely rendered moot.
    5. Limited theatrical release in the USA
    6. Suckers you into watching it. Loaded with A-listers, but with William Macy and Julia Stiles on the cover and the lettering give credit to the idea that this will be some edgy, psychological thriller This abomination should have the Mr. Yuck sticker on the cover instead.
    7. Ruins lives. After watching this movie, my friends would avert their eyes when speaking to me and to this day I must pre-watch any movie and provide links to two favorable reviews before any of my movie night recommendations are considered.

    • 8. And I hate the movie so much I blocked out it’s actual title which is Edmond (c.2005)

    • THANK YOU. My dad made me watch this, and it’s fucking ridiculous.

      “You know who I hate? Fags.” – Julia Stiles (her character, at least), always your girlfriend

      “No, I really don’t enjoy David Mamet.” – Me, always

  47. my summation is that if this movie came out when i was 14, it would be the perfrect representation for what i would think being “in love” was. the girl you have a crush on likes the same music you do – seems like the perfect corner stone to build a relationship on. then you get laid and you feel like dancing and singing. then she breaks your heart and you mope around like an asshole and put your sorries in a sack and then decide to go chase your dreams and life is a happy ending, roll credits. that’s movie love, aka, the perception of love to shy 14 year old music nerds with an active imagination.

    but the reason its empty and unrealistic and twee is because real love isn’t swapping playlists with the hot girl in reception and singing and dancing after sex. real love is sharing these things called “values,” complaining about their picks holding up the netflix que, falling asleep 5 minutes after sex, and swallowing your dreams to work a shitty job to make sure you can pay the rent….who wants to watch that movie?

    • I think the movie totally agrees with you. It puts forward the 14-year-old version of love and then lets an 11-year-old girl tell you why it’s bullshit.

  48. This movie wasn’t so bad. It had a The Clash reference. It had a Pixies reference. Zooey Dashael was in front of the camera for a lot of the time. Hardly a contender for TWMOAT.

    On a related note, A History of Violence? Really monsters? Really? Hey how about next round we do Dr. Strangelove and Unforgiven-Seth and Amy

    The Saint (Val Kilmer)
    Spread (Ashton Kutcher)
    Hollow Man (Kevin Bacon & Sausage)

    • ALSO—
      Smiley Face (Anna Farris stoner-film)
      Operation Endgame (How NOT to Use a Comedic Cast)
      Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li (Chris Klein ‘Nuff Said)

      • ugh Smiley Face was the worst! The sad thing is I was really excited for a lady stoner movie. And then it’s just the worst movie ever. Which, I guess, has continued to fuel my desire to write a good lady stoner movie.

    • I’m pretty much a professional lurker on this site but I had to log-in just to second Spread for WMOAT.

      It’s like they couldn’t convince Josh Hartnett to do the movie so they got Ashton Kutcher gave him 10 packs of cigarettes a day and told him to squint is eyes in every scene *cringe*

    • I second Hollow Man but I respectfully disagree in regards to Val Kilmer’s fucking harshness in the Saint. Because he and his dozens of ACCENTS AND DISGUISES are fucking harsh in that movie.

  50. I’m in the target demographic for Zooey Deschanel, and I think she’s a hack; the Katy Perry of filmdom!

    Also, this column reminds me of this Onion article:

    Also… I though A History of Violence was good… it’s been a while though.

  51. Have I mentioned that VALENTINE’S DAY is easily the WMOAT?

    “There is no beginning and no end. This is a cycle of pain from which there is no escape. This is Valentine’s Day, a movie which I have seen and which I can now quite confidently state is, in fact, the worst movie ever made.” – Sady Doyle, guardian.co.uk

    • huh inducing scene from this movie of the week-
      So Emma Roberts is gonna lose her virginity to her boyfriend on Valentine’s Day, of course, and she’s freaking out so she confides in her teacher Kristen Schaal and is all like “I’m gonna have sex for the first time today” and it’s like what do people talk to teachers that way?

    • Upvotes for both the movie (truly awful, and I swear I only watched it because it was a $1.99 rental) and the Sady Doyle quote.

    • Valentine’s Day was good for ONE thing

      Confirmation that Jessica Biel > Jessica Alba (I had been a fool for so long)

      Also the 1,000,000th piece of evidence that Julia Roberts has a giant mouth

  52. Titanic! I’ll shout it from the rooftops….Titanic Titanic Titanic!

  53. I nominate Synecdoche NY.

    For the record, I love this movie. It is a film I will watch once a year for the rest of my life and extract new meaning from. I just want to learn what Gabe thinks of it.

    • Love Synecdoche, NY. Love Charlie Kaufman’s body of work as a whole.

    • Beautiful movie. So good, so pure, I don’t know how he can top it. Time to exit gracefully via sideways bullet, Charlie Kaufman.

      Just kidding. Don’t do that, Charlie Kaufman.

      I’m pretty sure there’s no way Charlie Kaufman is ever gonna read that first bit. But I’d feel horrible if he did.

      Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind is one of my favourite movies of all time, right up there with Seven Samurai. Don’t kill yourself, Charlie Kaufman! You have yet to top Seven Samurai!

      Live! LIVE!


    • My boyfriend (the real one, not the archetype) was an effects editor for Synecdoche NY, and yet he has never seen the actual film. Getting Gabe to review it might just be the push he needs…

    • I think that we should stick to nominating bad movies we hate. We have not run out of those. There are plenty of them: The Wolf Man, most J. Lo movies, Cameron Diaz jizz movie with Christina Applegate, Joe’s Apartment, The Pest, The Love Guru, Tyler Perry movies, etc.

  54. I liked (did not love) this movie for a few reasons, most of which Gabe pointed out:

    1) It’s easy and fun to watch. It moves breezily, and it’s major plot points are universal enough to make it very relatable. Unlike, say, The Last Kiss, where the whole time you are just like WOW FUCK THIS DUDE.

    2) It gets that most movies like it are lies. Gabe pointed out the ridiculousness of the way these characters meet and bond over things as trivial as The Smiths and Karaoke. But the MOVIE ITSELF pointed that out too when the 11 year old girl said “just because she likes the same weird crap as you doesn’t make her your soulmate.” With that line, the movie became self-aware and, implicily, a rejection of all the other crap like it but not as smart (i.e. Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist).

    3) It gets that its main character is immature and dumb, but also, so is everyone. Gabe’s criticism of Zoey Deschanel’s character is sort of the point of the movie. Joseph Gordon Leavitt’s character is hung up on a girl who he has no real reason to believe is his soul mate, except for that she is pretty and cool. When it doesn’t work out, he’s devastated; but the point of the movie is that he learns to look for some deeper connection.

    4) It doesn’t work out. I guess I’m beating a dead horse at this point, but I like that the movie pretends to be a traditional cutesy indie romance like Garden State, but then has the balls to make it fail miserably. That makes it a helluva lot more relatable than movies that end with everything wrapped in a bow. It’s not a love story; it’s a story about growing up.

    Granted, all of these things could have been made more explicit, and it’s arguable that they were underplayed in service of a more traditional cutesy indie romance of exactly the kind I am trying to argue it attacks. But the subtext is there if you look for it.


      • I’m giving you a pass on the its bullshit for presenting the cogent defense 4 point argument that is more lucid and persuasive than anything I could come up with.

    • It’s not even really subtext! There’s the part where not only was JGL’s reasoning dumb, but it was built on false premises (as revealed in the flashbacks towards the end of the movie where we see she was never that into him, or The Smiths)

      • Good point, deepo. But I think many people like this movie for the cute indie songs and cute joseph gordon leavitt who gets to kiss cute zoey deschanel. Maybe not the filmmakers’ fault, but it is annoying that many people missed the point.

  55. Nomination: Brief Interviews with Hideous Men

  56. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

  57. When my friend started playing Modern Warfare 2, we wanted to make his name 500daysofslaughter. Unfortunately, 500daysofslaughter is too long for Playstation Network, so he picked something else. It wasn’t until a few months later that I realized we could have made his clan name be [500] and his player name be “daysofslaughter,” which would make his name appear as [500]daysofslaughter, which would have been perfect.

  58. The Chumscrubber

    • Fuck The Chumscrubber, Justin Chatwin is an asshole.

      • Ummmm… what is this? I think I have been Ass Dan for longer than you have been Ass Dan. Also, aren’t both of us supposed to be dead?

    • UPVOTED FOR ETERNITY. I am going to upvote it again tomorrow, and the day after that too

      • But seriously, can the Chumscrubber really be included in the next round? I don’t even know where to start with that “movie.”

        The worst part is either when Rory Culkin incites an orgy at a memorial service by dosing a casserole with Ecstasy, or when Ralph Fiennes is drawing dolphins on everything for the whole movie, and then at the end it zooms out and the whole town is shaped like a dolphin. Or the rest of the movie.

  59. I really want the sweater-vest JGL is wearing in the dancing scene. Sweater vests win.

    • Nice profile picture!

      I don’t know if you were deliberately copying me or not (probably not, since I’ve only commented here like 5 times.)

      I’d fight you for it, but I don’t think it’s worth it.

      • Great minds think a like I guess! When I was thinking of what to use as an avatar, this came to mind. Really, is there anything better then TR laughing? Since you have seniority, I will gladly relinquish the avatar to you if you wish though. :)

  60. Nomination, for realies:


    I liked this movie and also hated it- and hate won out and now I really hate it.

    I have a bearded best friend with a bi-racial girlfriend and they think they’re better than everyone just like THESE TWO.

    Side note- I love John Krasinksi with all my heart, but only sans beard.

    • Totally get the Away We Go love/hate. It is probably the most love/hatable movie I have ever seen

      • Thirded. That movie was likeable while you’re watching but INFURIATING as soon as you stop to think about it. It did have zippy dialogue, though. Thanks, David Eggers. You roofied me with your words and then let the movie do the date-rape.

  61. The film Amelie had emotional failings?

    (500) Days of Summer’s blueprint is more like Garden State.

  62. Maybe I’m a kneejerk contrarian. Maybe I have some kind of emotional problem.

    But after reading the piece and the comments, I had to read Armond White’s review of 500 Days of Summer to get the barf taste OUT of my mouth.
    Armond! White! I usually save his stuff for when I forget what barf tastes like. “Oh, now I remember. Moving on…”

    Y’all made me re-live every bullshit, smug part of this awful movie.

    Is that how well-to-do, city-dwelling, attractive, stylish, college-educated white people talk to each other?
    “Hey, bro, what do you think about love? Do you think the new girl is pretty? Do you want me to talk to her for you?”
    “Why, frankly…”
    “I WAS KIDDING. I think I’m going to try to hit that. Hey, isn’t it funny that our insufferable fallback jobs are still fancy and twee as shit? Waitress, I’ll have the Caffe Americano and can you put diamonds in it like they’re marshmallows in hot chocolate?”

    I don’t think diamonds even float. That’s how bullshit that movie was.

    • Best Friend: “You have to come quick! JGL is breaking all our dishes and he needs to be reminded that true love does exist and he’ll find it someday! You’re the only one that can help!”

      JGL’s 11-Year-Old Sister: “I’m on it. I will leave my cushy suburban home to come to downtown LA at night and fix my older-by-15-years brother’s romantic life for him.”

      Art imitating life, am I right?

      • Exactly like real life.

        I, actually, can really relate to JGL’s character. I remember when this girl broke my heart, but then I learned a really important lesson about life and love: just because a girl recognizes the same upper-middle class signifiers as I do and works in the same building doesn’t mean that she’s “the one.”
        For a girl to be “the one” means she has to WANT to work in the same building and be Minka Kelly.

        I am definitely a more mature person now that I am finally able to fall in love with gorgeous women.

  63. Full disclosure: I actually enjoyed this movie very much. I saw it twice (once in the theater) and even felt that I sympathized with Tom.

    That said, I really think that the style of criticism used in this review (and a lot of others on this site) is absurd and misleading. It is not fair to any film to strip it of all but its most basic plot points and then recite those mockingly (which could very easily make any film sound awful): in good movies (as far as I know) the plot is secondary to the characters, and a result of their characterizations instead of the core of the story. Granted, not every movie is a good movie. Some are made with mainly the intent of profit, and these are the ones that often start with plot archetypes and work (often unsuccessfully) from that point. However, the fact that a movie’s plot is slightly ludicrous does not prove that it is a bad movie, and it is unfair to judge every movie as if it were a bad one.

    The critique of the characters as being “unlovable” completely baffled me. If people fall in love with other people, it is not because they are lovable. It is because they see beauty in them, whether in their actions, their eyes, or that nearly indefinable presence that they carry. When you see beauty in someone and they see beauty in you, it causes something that doesn’t make sense to anyone but them, because logic is not made for matters such as these.

    This movie had too many gimmicks, but I saw a thread of sincerity. The actors were good, the script and direction were solid, and it made me smile often as I watched. Thus I enjoyed it.

    • Your second point (the one about loving and being loved and blah blah I’m not doing it justice) was very good. So kudos. Very good point.

      But I do have to quibble a bit with your first comment. I think often Gabe does reduce stories to plot points in a way that’s mostly tongue-in-cheek (but could also be read as mocking and unfair). In this case though, I think it fits. The point he’s making, particularly in his comparison to Couples Retreat, is that this is a tired formula. Tired formulas can still be re-purposed to make thoughtful and poignant statements about the world. Just not by dressing by them up in cutesy indie garb and hawking them to a slightly different demographic than usual. This movie confuses aesthetics with actual content.

      Full disclosure of my own: this movie made me smile a bunch too and I love JGL and Zooey Deschanel and would watch the two of them blow paint dry with their adorable pouty mouths all day.

  64. the quality of this movie does not really matter to me because joseph gordon-levitt.
    zooey deschanel is also my girl crush, but i couldn’t help but shudder in horror when i saw her fingernails in this movie.

    • Word. Zooey Deschanel may be a “worthwhile object for the male gaze” but Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a worthwhile object for the MALE GAYS, AM I RIGHT FELLAS

    • Oh my god, her fingernails. I almost forgot. They were long and yellow and I threw up. I forgive you, Zooey, as always, but please get a manicure next time.

      • JGL is the professed “crush” of many hipster straight males I know- he’s non-threatening, semi-cute and in some “interesting” movies (Mysterious Skin, Brick, etc).

        As a gay male, I see the appeal but don’t buy into it.

  65. The first time I saw this I hated it, but I was forced to watch it several times, and sort of changed my mind? (I think I was Stockholm syndromed into liking it). It was cute, and both of them are cute.

    But one thing about this review, why is Gabe so incredulous about JGL wanting to fall in love? I mean it is a super corny plot device, but also the same super corny plot device used in every single rom-com ever with a female lead. I don’t know what my point is other than it sort of rubbed me the wrong way that the same plot of every rom-com ever made is so unbelievable because it’s a male character who wants it instead of the marriage-crazy ladiez.

    • To be fair, he said the same thing about Bride Wars. But yes, I agree. I also actually liked that it was the guy who was wanting so badly to fall in love. Also, the guy was JGL, so, ya know. Sweater vests.

  66. Pretty much every guy gets hung up on some girl at one point, possibly knowing little about her, or totally wrong about what they think they know, and then listens to nothing but Pinkerton for a month…. or something, and I thought this movie showed that pretty good.

    • I listen to Pinkerton completely, each morning.
      It became my favourite band in college.
      Pork and Beans is my anthem, y’all, and I’m a VEGETARIAN!

  67. Meh. REAL LIFE love is forsaking your dreams and taking a job you hate so her parents will stop saying you’re going nowhere and don’t deserve her.

    I like (500) Days of Summer.

  68. I will say this: I went into the movie expecting to hate it and ended up enjoying it. I think all of the above is right. I really hate in movies using popular music to cultivate feeling–It never works. I hate a movie that panders to my demographic.

    That said, I liked that she was unlikable. I think that is realistic, we’ve all be attracted to people who we shouldn’t.

    I wish he’d been left alone at the end. That would have been good. But, hey, whatever. It was okay enough.

  69. Zooey Deschanel is pretty and all, but she’s a boring monotone robot who is a terrible actress (the MOST terrible actress?) and watching her speak is like watching really pretty paint dry. I watch it because it’s pretty but it doesn’t make it any less fucking unbearable.

  70. I liked this movie, therefore i tended to disagree with your opinions on the movie ( though i generally appreciate your “voice,” which is why i keep reading this blog, even when it criticizes the things i like). My point of contention however, is not with your criticism of this movie, but the fact that you reviewed this movie for WMOAT at all. If you can openly state that this movie is not the WMOAT in the very first sentence, then why did you review it at all? I suppose one might rebut that statement with the question “how can one know if a movie is the WMOAT until they have actually seen it?” to which I would reply, “Point taken.” The thing is, I have this sneaking suspicion that you knew even before watching it that this movie wasn’t the WMOAT. After seeing just the trailer of this movie I think you’d be able to tell that this movie at least has artistic merit—even if it ultimately doesn’t have new/interesting thoughts on love/relationships/joseph gordon-levitt–artistic merit which puts it out of WMOAT territory, because the true WMOAT will have no artistic merit at all.

    I guess I could sum up my point best with this analogy: the academy of arts and sciences isn’t going to consider a movie that is by all accounts “pretty good” for an oscar, so why should the academy of gabe consider a movie that is only “marginally bad” for the WMOAT? It would serve your purpose too–truly bad movies create truly good WMOAT articles (exhibit a: the dan akroyd mess of a few weeks ago. Very bad movie, very fun read).

    But maybe this was all an elaborate ruse to protect the indie darlings I hold so dear to my heart. Who knows.

  71. the question is, is “Winter” a plausible enough womans name to use for the third film should the lucrative sequal train come rollin by..?

  72. So there’s a lot I could say about this film, about Gabe’s critique of it, and about the couple of hundred comments that followed, but I think I’ll keep it simple and just give my basic feelings towards it.

    Decent film about immature love, mis-interpreted by people who regularly watch “generic” rom-coms (ie gimmick-less rom-coms) as a good film about mature love. Quickly became so overrated (top 200 on IMDB ffs) that there was an inevitable backlash, as can be seen by its inclusion in The Hunt.

    In regards to this:

    Smoke and mirrors it may be, Gabe, but sometimes one would rather suspend their disbelief and use a poignant moment in a film to reflect their own emotions than coldly pick apart its deficiencies. I know that you are a critic, asked to study this film from a technical point of view, but it’s things like this that have made so many people reply with claims of “emotionless”.

    Also, neither I, nor anyone I saw the film with, in any way saw the Autumn ending as the audience being “led to believe that they will get married and never argue about anything”. I saw it (cynical me) simply as a repetition of what we have just seen. Much like the karmic cycle in Buddhism, Tom will repeat his mistakes until he changes his immature viewpoint of love (fuck me that was pretentious, don’t worry I’ll throw in some dick jokes in a bit). This is the first review I’m aware of that sincerely believed that this film has a happy ending.

    I thought it was clear from the dual scenes of “what Tom loves about Summer/what Tom hates about Summer”, that this whole thing is from the POV of him, and that we are never going to get a real exploration of Summer of a character because of the immaturity of the character whose POV it is.

    I think I better finish this comment now, because I’m close to posting a lengthy rant about every detail of this film and about people’s varying reactions, and I don’t really want to do that as it’s mostly been covered above. Anyway, this review has got me thinking and writing about a film more than any other WMOAT film in a while, so thank you for that

    • Also, relentlessly making references to indie bands instead of making actual jokes is lame.

      *hurriedly deletes folder of Matt Berninger gifs*

      So lame.

    • I watched this movie tonight and I agree with all of your points except one. I think that that the Joseph Gordon-Levitt character has learned something from everything that has happened, so I don’t think that the Autumn bit at the end is necessarily signifying a repetition of the same shit all over again. I mean, the guy looks directly into the camera at the end, which I suppose could mean, “uh oh, here we go again!” but in context seems to mean, “HA! things live and then they die and I know this now.” I think too much has been made of the Autumn thing at the end. It’s the movie being a bit too self-knowing but it’s also a nice character moment. It works within the context of the movie’s universe, is what I’m saying. No, I don’t know what I’m saying anymore. I’m drunk. Gabe is an idiot for not seeing as much good in this movie as there was bad. Personally, I think there was a lot more good than bad. All of the things that were picked on were part of the sorta insular universe the movie was trying to create. Does Gabe not think? Has this pop culture gig rotted his brain to the point where he is only able to rail self-righteously against the self-righteous, privileged worldview of middle-or-upper-class Americans in a humorous and/or mildly ironic fashion? Engage with something, dick (the dick being Gabe, not Captain Flaptastic with the Spasms, who I was agreeing with).

      Good night, sweet universe.

  73. Nomination: The Constant Gardner

    because FUCK that movie.

    “It’s hard being British in Africa with all of this tragedy going on in the background” – The Constant Gardner

  74. I saw this movie with my then-boyfriend in Brooklyn after a dinner at schmancy restaurant. So an expensive night, all told – yet we were disappointed by both the movie and our meal. When we walked out of the movie, he said to me “That movie is like the pork tenderloin I had at dinner. It was fine, but if I had the time, I could have done it myself for way less money.” He made an excellent point.

    • Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

  75. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

  76. I nominate The Back-Up Plan with Jennifer Lopez and Wolf Man. Both so so terrible. The movie with Cameron Diaz where Selma Blair gets lock-jaw on the guy’s junk too. I don’t remember what it’s called but it’s so bad.

  77. GABE, you are shooting for the hat trick of romance movie love complaints with History of Violence. It is pretty sentimental and the only thing anyone loves about anyone else is how they’re all architects.

  78. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

  79. I really really wanted this to be the last comment on this thread, so i thought id wait a couple weeks, but i cant wait any longer. this is the worst movie ever. I cant even get into it, or constructivley break it down to explain why it was so shitty, it was just the shittiest most deliberate calculating barf movie almost made too specifically for the teenage hipster generation or as a cross-over movie that pulls in non-hipster kids into the other side (with zooey acting as the bait, JGL acting as the universal tragic hero, and everything else just being a great example of how awful marc webb is for creating this bullshit).

  80. Okay, I’m a little late on the bandwagon here but…

    “Just because she likes the same weird crap as you doesn’t make her your soulmate.”

    I thought that this quote was pretty much the point of the whole movie. Because, yes, JGL experiences a shallow, superficial version of love about a girl who’s completely unsuitable for him and maybe he didn’t know all that well in the first place. But that’s what the movie is about — coming to terms with the fact that the way you perceived a relationship wasn’t always the way it went. Which is the reason for the out-of-order narrative structure. It juxtaposes the initial excitement with the ultimate disappoint and makes us realize, “oh yeah, this was a pretty stupid idea.”

    I think that most of the things addressed in Gabe’s post aren’t flaws with the movie or oversights by the filmmakers. They’re the entire message behind the film. I see the tone as very cynical (whereas Gabe seems to see the tone as optimistic, and then projects his own cynicism onto it).

    But I’m not saying you have to like it or anything. I see why people might find it smug.

  81. The only movie I liked JG-L in was Inception. This movie was not Inception.

  82. Sixpence none the Richer is actually a good band. The idiot who wrote this article called the band bad as a whole based on having only heard one song. I’d much rather read listen to a Sixpence album then read through the mindless drivel this man espouses.

  83. Wow, I read through a few sentences, giving the author the benefit of the doubt. Thank goodness I didn’t waste my time reading the entire thing, and for the record I didn’t like this film either.

  84. Honestly. You took things far far far to literally. You don’t have to have reasons to fall in love with a girl. You’ve never just seen someone and wanted to be with them. Also, they don’t show all 500 days. You can assume there were more than just a few dates. You missed a lot of the key points of the movie. Also, learn to actually write about film please. Stop just ranting your feelings as pointless and off-beat as they are.

  85. Completely failed interpretation. I don’t like the movie either but not because it’s badly made. Unlike standard Hollywood movies and much like many David Lynch movies, this movie can serve as educational material for psychology students. It is definitely not designed to flatter the audience.
    I hated watching this movie because it accurately illuminates a certain part of the female mind. Summer says she doesn’t want a serious relationship and so the protagonist plays along because he is afraid to lose her if he insists on something serious. Now, what she actually wants is exactly that, a serious relationship, as evidenced by the wedding in the end. This contradiction can be viewed upon as a shit test of giant dimensions. She puts him into an awkward situation and tests if he is a push over or an alpha male. He gives in to her literal wish for a non-committal relationship and thereby fails her test. All that may be subconscious, but I have to say: God, I hate women ! !

  86. I still can’t wrap my head around how you think this is the worst movie of all time. You’ve clearly haven’t seen Kazaam yet.

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