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UNPOPULAR OPINION: 500 Days of Summer was the best rom-com that came out of the 2000s.

It’s been 10 years, or 3,652 days, since 500 Days of Summer debuted in movie theatres worldwide.

It had all the tropes of a naughties-era rom-com, but with an ironic, hipster twist. There was a killer soundtrack, a meet-cute between a boy and girl and a leading lady with an enviable haircut, but underpinning it all was the failed relationship between Summer and Tom.

And I will staunchly defend it as the best rom-com, or well… anti rom-com, that came out of the 2000s. I’d even go as far to say that watching it 10 years later, the film feels even more relevant, but not because it watches like a love letter to indie hipster culture, but because it’s one of the more accurate representations of what it’s actually like dating in your early-20s, when self-obsession outweighs self-awareness.

Watch the trailer for 500 Days of Summer below. Post continues after video.

Video by MMC

In 2019, Tom’s character, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, would be a soft boi. The greeting card writer / wannabe architect (the character plays itself) confuses a shared taste in music with true love and believes he should get the girl simply because he’s a ‘nice guy’.

The post-2009 critique of his character is that for all Tom’s idiosyncratic, ‘nice guy’ tendencies, he is a disillusioned, undercover douche bag. The kind who chooses to pepper a normal, average existence with a love of old-school and obscure indie bands and a niche enthusiasm for LA architecture. To him, Zooey Deschanel’s Summer was always a projection of his Manic Pixie Dream Girl fantasies and when his unrealistic expectations come crashing down, he becomes bitter, whiny, and self-indulgent.

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It’s even something Gordon-Levitt himself has acknowledged.

Responding to a tweet in 2018, he wrote, “Watch it again. It’s mostly Tom’s fault. He’s projecting. He’s not listening. He’s selfish. Luckily he grows by the end.”

The thing is, at one point in our lives, we’ve all dated a Tom, or been a Tom. It’s equal parts cringe-inducing and laughable, but who hasn’t gotten caught up in their own fantasy of someone, to completely ignore the walking, talking, and flawed actual person in front of them? Admitting it is the first step.

Eventually Tom grows up. He stops being the victim in his own narrative, quits his job to become an architect and seemingly understands and makes peace with Summer.

To quote the film’s opening credits: “This is a story about love, but it’s not a love story,” and its endearing, hipster aesthetics and random post-coitus, Hall and Oates ‘You Make My Dreams Come True’ dance break, make it a charming modern classic.

What are you thoughts on 500 Days of Summer? Objections, rebuttals and arguments are welcome in the comments.

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