Short Film Inside 500 Days of Summer

500 Days of SummerI’ve never seen the film 500 Days of Summer. And I’m not inclined to. It is directed by Marc Webb, who directed the 2012 version of The Amazing Spider-Man, which I wrote about at the time, The Not So Amazing Spider-Man Writers. As you can tell from the title, my problem was with the writers, not the director. But the director is generally the guy who says, “Yes, this screenplay is ready; let’s shoot!” And look: if the guy were an artist, would he be directing such dreck?

But the other day, I came upon this one sequence in the film that is shot in split screen. It is “Expectations vs Reality.” The principle character is coming to the birthday party of his ex-lover. He imagines that they are going to get back together. So on the left side of the screen, we see his expectations for the party, and on the right, we see the reality. In general, I’m not a fan of the split screen. In fact, I even wrote that I did not see a narrative reason to ever use it. Well, I think I was wrong. This is just marvelous:

I did hop over to Wikipedia to see if the whole of 500 Days of Summer might be worth checking out. But it turns out the whole film is more or less what you would expect from the director of The Amazing Spider-Man: boy falls in love with the wrong girl, eventually realizes it, finds the right girl. But this three minutes of film is great.


If you get rid of the whole love-interest aspect of the reality part of the story, that’s pretty much every party that I’ve ever been to. It’s also why I don’t like going to parties — and why I always bring a book.

11 thoughts on “Short Film Inside 500 Days of Summer

  1. I recommend seeing 500 Days of Summer, even if you only see it once. I haven’t seen any Spider-Man movies but I’m pretty sure this movie is smarter than all of them. It’s not a romcom so much as a deconstruction of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope and the bullshit Hollywood piles up about romantic love, which is where I might be biased because that message is one I need to remember too. As for the ending – well, spoiler alert, but the girl he meets at the end is named Autumn – subtle symbolism! But it means about half the audience go, “Aww, he found the right girl at last,” and the other half go, “OMG he didn’t learn a thing!” Also there’s a gratuitous song-and-dance number that’s about 80% as good as the famous expectation/reality scene because it functions as a parody of gratuitous song-and-dance numbers. You still might not like it, but 500 Days of Summer is worth checking out.

    • From my reading, I don’t think that ending is supposed to be anything but “happily ever after.” He has in fact, found a woman who is more suited to him. But based upon your recommendation, I will watch it if I come upon it. But I won’t seek it out. For one thing, there’s no way the film could live up to this 3 minute masterpiece.

    • I was madly in crush with some Manic Pixie Dream Girls in my day. And from what I heard from people who continued contact with them, they all grew up to be boring as hell. The 25-year old hipster becomes a 35-year old hipster; quirkiness is important at 25 to hipsters, class status at 35. The movie sounds good but it would probably just send me into a funk of negative memories!

  2. I like SS in some DePalma films and the one sequence in “Jackie Brown.” But it’s usually pointless unless you’re contrasting two perspectives, like this clip does.

    Parties can’t have anyone trying to impress anyone, or they’re terrible. If it’s friends who enjoy each others’ company, and are inclusive of newcomers, then they’re fine. But even then anything more than six people or so is a disaster. That’s why people who have weddings without open bars should be pelted with rotten vegetables. If you’re not going to reward people who are suffering through your damn reception by giving them free liquid soma, you are a cruel individual.

    • Wait. I don’t remember split screen in Jackie Brown. I remember him showing the same sequence three times from different characters’ perspectives. I thought it was a noble, but failed attempt. But I don’t remember split screen. I haven’t seen it in ages, though. If you look at Sisters, you will see that from a narrative perspective, the split screen is unnecessary; it is a stylish flourish — fully indicative of De Palma at his most self-indulgent. My point is that it is almost never necessary. It is done for the director’s sake, not the audience’s.

      I quite agree with you about parties. And I have had such parties in the past. But they don’t feel like parties — just get-togethers. And the key, as you say, is that everyone has to like each other.

      • It’s a brief moment. We see Max driving home after a drink with Jackie after she’s sprung, and he’s developing a crush. Meanwhile we see Jackie waiting at home for Ordell to come kill her. Max reaches in the glove compartment for his gun as he parks his car, and the gun’s gone. Jackie has it pressed against Ordell’s neck. (She gives Max his gun back the next day.) It works because, again, it’s different perspectives; this is when Max realizes Jackie is more than the simple smuggler he took her for.

        The DePalma I was thinking of was “Casualties of War.” But I don’t know that I’ll ever watch that one again!

        • Oh, I remember now! I’ll have to revisit that film. I do like the two leads. The problem is that I don’t think Tarantino worked the script enough.

  3. This is why I like nerd parties…At my birthday party we played card games and had much more fun.

      • Well, most lower class parties are even worse. Nothing but beer, over-loud music, maybe sports on the TV, And you can’t read even if you brought your book.

        • This is why I often find myself outside parties — sometimes blocks away. I’ve been enduring parties for decades! I know all the tricks.

          Although I can read better with overwhelming sound and with random bits of speech coming from this place and that.

          As for the party in the film, I would have just left.

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