It’s February and you know what that means! Love is in the air! It is officially the season for candy hearts, long-stemmed roses, boxed chocolates and romantic comedies – or “anti-romantic comedies,” as the beloved film “500 Days of Summer” has been described. Though certainly not your typical genre offering, the 2009 movie, which is currently streaming on both Amazon Prime and Hulu, quickly became a critical darling and audience favorite and remains so today, more than a decade after its debut.
As narrator Richard McGonagle warns at the flick’s outset, “You should know upfront, this is not a love story.” Instead, “500 Days of Summer” chronicles the failed 500-day relationship between twenty-something co-workers Summer (Zooey Deschanel) and Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), covering the good, the bad and all the trips to IKEA in between.
The indie hit was penned by screenwriters Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, who had always hoped to write a rom-com together. As Neustadter told Entertainment Weekly, things didn’t come together until he found himself brokenhearted following the ending of a relationship. He explained, “I was home, sort of reeling from that breakup. I did what I usually do in those situations, which is I just sort of drowned myself in music and in movies — exactly what the character does in the movie. I had rented this movie called ’32 Short Films About Glenn Gould.’ It’s this weird Canadian movie that I actually still have never seen, but I had the DVD on my DVD player, and I was looking at it and I realized: That’s a cool way to tell a relationship story, like a bunch of short films, and you can kind of tell them out of order, you can juxtapose them any way you wanted. I quickly sort of compiled this email to Weber saying, ‘I think I figured out our rom-com.’” The rest is well-watched history!
Not only did the movie serve as a love letter to what Neustadter describes as “this genre that at the time was no longer what it once was,” but to Los Angeles, as well, attracting locals and tourists alike to the city’s many fabulous landmarks perhaps more than any other film in recent history!
Sadly, “500 Day’s” most famous location, the bench that plays Tom’s favorite spot in L.A., is situated inside the now-defunct Angels Knoll park which closed to the public in 2013 and is currently slated for a massive redevelopment project. As director Mark Webb bemoaned to The Hollywood Reporter, “I don’t know enough about civic agencies, and God knows budgets are difficult things to manage — and, let’s be honest, maybe there are better things to spend money on. But you know what? I’ll miss my bench.”