Old Lady Movie Night

Old Lady Movie Night: ‘(500) Days Of Summer'

And a good day to YOU, friends! I, the resident Old Lady (self-named for my flair for hats and drinking tea and my tendency to lecture fictional movie characters), is back after a week of terrible time planning.

And what a week it has been! Last Thursday (because in my world, a week starts whenever I say it does) I went to Buffalo with my aunt, then I celebrated St. Patrick’s Day with two of my best friends by eating frozen yogurt and pulled pork. (Not together, but that would’ve been amazing.) And now here we are! Writing about movies, and talking about feelings. I’ve decided also that OLMN is going to go something like this:

Because there are SO MANY MOVIES and I’ve gotten some awesome requests, I’m going to make it completely unbiased by starting alphabetically and working my way through the list. That way, all the movies get covered, and I also end up watching a bunch of movies I’ve never seen. SOUND FAIR? No? Fine, then I will also sometimes start from the OTHER end of the list, as well as from somewhere in the middle. The moral of the story is that there is a list, and I am now working through it. HUZZAH!

So here we go. (500) Days Of Summer, a movie I’ve only seen twice, BUT I quite liked (especially since at the time, I was the JGL to some guy’s Zooey D., and oh boy — THE LESSONS WE HAVE LEARNED).

Let’s do this.

1. I like Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s quote about his character because he is correct

There is a quote he says that I can’t remember because I’m out of my mind, but he talks about how over-romanticizing Tom is wrong because Tom’s completely obsessed with Summer and doesn’t respect what she’s said to him or her boundaries, and for some reason I don’t remember the rest, but AMEN TO THAT. Now I won’t lie: when I first saw (500) Days, I was very pro-Tom/anti-Summer, because I think you’re almost conditioned to feel that way somehow (BY SOCIETY). Now, as an Old Lady, I think, “Oh Tom. Friend. LOVE YOURSELF, FIRST. Also, relax, and look at your life/look at your choices.” And also, “Hey Summer. How are you?” Because when you think about it, she really didn’t do anything wrong. At all.



Can I get several alleluias and maybe even possibly an amen? Terrific. I can’t count how many times I played this song because damn it, I liked a guy (who was a Ukrainian boyscout who wouldn’t date anyone not Ukrainian, so clearly I wanted to date him) (we did not date), and this song WAS TOTALLY ABOUT US. Except it was not even close, and I’m pretty sure he lied to me when he said he listened to it. EITHER WAY. Memories. You do you, Regina Spektor.

3. I would also call Chloe Moretz in a time of crisis

She has never met me. I have never met her. But she seems like a person you’d call when you need someone to tell you to snap out of it, and Cher isn’t available. See also: Kelly Cutrone.

4. But yes, the breakup scene is clearly a disaster

Because AREN’T THEY ALL. (No.) Here’s the thing: basically, we are watching a lose/lose situation. Tom thinks they have one thing, Summer thinks they have another. Summer tells Tom what she wants, but she acts a different way. Tom hears what he wants to hear and doesn’t respect what Summer’s about. Classic, “You can’t change a person” life lesson that worsened only when we had to watch them end things over pancakes. End things at a bus stop. So that way, instead of leaving delicious pancakes to suffer the brunt of your romantic undoing, you can hop on a bus, and drive into the sunset/towards your house.

5. Woah, Christina Hendricks’ husband (IRL) with the woman-hate

First, I know he is just playing a role, and that in real life he is obviously not like this person. Second, remember when he tells Tom that Summer’s a “bitch” because she “wasn’t having it” in terms of talking to some guy? GO TO JAIL GO DIRECTLY TO JAIL. Simmer down. Relax. Nope. This actually embodies rape culture to an extent: Summer wants to not talk to somebody, and when she does not talk to that somebody she is branded a “bitch” and an “uppity better than everyone super-skank.”

Here’s something, PAL: SUMMER DOESN’T OWE ANYONE ANYTHING. Would you be saying those things if she were a man? No you would not. So check yourself. Before you wreck yourself. (And also, on a personal note, I wrote a blog about rape culture and my experiences with it earlier this week if you’d like to explore this topic more.)

6. Question: am I old now that shared musical tastes isn’t my worry anymore?

I LIKE MUSIC. Just like anyone. But now if somebody likes the same band as me, cool, but if they don’t, okay, I don’t care…? I feel like I’d be more put off if I made a Parks and Recreation reference and they were like, “Who?” Now THAT is a red flag. But music? It’s fine. We all love Gin Blossoms, and that’s what matters.

500 Days Of Summer

7. What DID happen there, Tom?

I think Tom might be the perfect example of what happens to a lot of us in our early-to-mid ’20s. We need jobs, we take jobs, we don’t pursue what we want, things get confusing, and then we melt down. BUT then we build ourselves up, and eventual become functional beings again. Part of me thinks that if Tom and Summer met when they were older, they actually could’ve had a shot at a real thing, OR even just a shot at genuine friendship. But alas, that is not the way. And instead, Tom is settling at his job instead of pursuing architecture, heading straight down the track to “disappointment city.” Good news, though: he will eventually get to leave. (LIKE WE ALL DO.) (YAY.)


8. The soundtrack to this movie, though, is off the hook

OFF THE HOOK. And I’m not just saying that because a part of Patrick Swayze’s “She’s Like The Wind” played, and my heart soared.

9. “It was goooood.”

#LOL Also, “I think you KNOW what I need” is terrific in that we have all done it. WE ALL DO IT. We will probably all do it again. *I* have especially done this. Remember how he plays The Smiths super loud in the office just as she walks by? I’m pretty sure I’ve done the equivalent of that, but with my car. Not like, rev the engine, just like, BLARED (obnoxiously) ska or something because the guy I liked in grade 12 loved Less Than Jake.

And do I regret it now? Well, obviously. No one should ever blare ska. Especially not in a residential zone.

10. But then remember when Summer gets treated terribly because she says she doesn’t want a boyfriend?

UGHHHHH WHAT THE HELL, TOM AND CHRISTINA HENDRICKS’ HUSBAND (who I’m sure is great in real life). First, they ask her if she has a boyfriend which in itself is kind of inappropriate. Then, when she says she doesn’t have a boyfriend, they ask why. WHY? Because *gets up and leaves,* that’s why. AND THEN when she says, “I don’t want one,” buddy says he doesn’t believe her — only to call her a lesbian when she says she’s free and independent. HOLD THE PHONE. WHAT THE WHAT. I never realized how this movie addresses common sexist behaviour, but there you go: it totally does. Summer is JUST DOING HER (YGG), and she gets devalued, mocked, and totally crapped on because of it. And what’s worse? I think we’ve all been in Summer’s shoes. And it is the worst.

500 Days Of Summer

11. Now I will say I’d be confused by the kissing scene

But I am horrible with grey areas which is why I’ve embraced being a totally black/white boundaries-relationship type person.  Here’s where I would turn into Tom: because being kissed by someone you like is confusing! Even if it’s a tryst or out of boredom, IT IS CONFUSING. I would be confused. And I would probably be convinced the guy and I would eventually be together, which is INCORRECT, because now I’m also starting to sound like Swimfan.

500 Days Of Summer

12. Just say it’s not okay, though, Tom!

Here’s the thing: Tom could totally just be like “You know what, it’s NOT really okay that you want something casual.” That would be fine! That would actually be really commendable — because he would be being honest, and she would be being honest, and there would just be a lot of honesty going around. Instead, he lies. LIKE WE ALL HAVE DONE. And it gets him smashing dishes and quitting his job. Which we have NOT all done (I hope).

13. Hall and Oates is everything

And so is the dancing scene. Also, this song will always make me think of The Wedding Singer when everyone’s trying cake samples. So it’s a double-good song, then, is what I’m saying..

14. So are boundaries important?

For a really long time I told myself they weren’t, and wow that was really incorrect considering I am the boundary queen and I AM FINE WITH THAT NOW. But at the same time I can totally relate to Tom trying to be cool (CUZ I HAVE DONE IT), and trying to be all, “Yeah, man! Whatever! We like each other, but we don’t care!” I cared. Me. And so does Tom, apparently. But if you’re a boundary person for the love of all that is good speak up because some people are not, and sometimes that mish-mash doesn’t gel*.

500 Days Of SUmmer

*I just sounded like a mid-90s motivational speaker. RADICAL.


And then it gets real. Re-al. Now, here’s where I just start to get sad. Summer is obviously over it. Tom, knowing Summer is over it, begins clinging to Summer by talking trash about how other girls dress (which Summer defends, so YGG), and saying he likes how SHE dresses (aka pitting her against other women, which she denies). Then, feeling even more frustrated, he punches some guy in a bar who doesn’t deserve to be punched. (I mean, okay, yes, he was THE WORST. But still! No violence, Tom!) And then Summer gets mad, and he gets mad, and I just want to buy them each a tea, and say, “LOOK. Here’s what needs to happen, everyone, we’re all moving away to different places.”

16. Okay, so fine, maybe it is NOT how you treat a friend

I feel like this is what should have happened:

Summer: “I don’t want a relationship.”

Tom: “I do.”

Summer: “Well that’s a bummer. I guess this isn’t going to work out.”

Tom: “But I like you.”

Summer: “And I like you, too. Just not enough to commit to that. I’m sorry.”

Tom: “Me too.”


500 Days Of Summer

But we have to see it. I GET THAT. We have to see what happens when things go awry. Even though it’s upsetting. TO ALL OF US (but especially these two fictional people in a movie).

17. The art scene — “SUFFERING”

Hello, film 102! This movie came out when I had juuuust taken a film class, so I was all, “Juxtaposition! Moving! Shapes!” And then this scene came on where Tom and Summer were both wearing turtlenecks, and I realized the obvious: I can’t take film classes, because I laughed at this too much.

18. The awkward run-in on the train which leads to hope

First of all, guys, I really hate running into people unexpectedly if I’m in the zone. You know? At the mall? Running errands? You are IN THE ZONE, and then you hear “Hi!” And everything’s thrown. All of it! Same goes for groceries, the movies, etc. Any activity you planned on conquering solo, it’s all over.

But then there’s the crush/like/ex run-in, where because you’re not ready, you just muster all the energy, and you scream-say your greeting? And appear overly friendly? So basically what I’m saying here is when Tom and Summer hang at the train and then hang at the wedding, that’s first my greatest dream and also greatest fear.


This is why I like this movie. Even though you just want to be like AHHH STOP MAKING THE MISTAKES WE HAVE ALL MADE, you can kind of bask in the, “I’ve been there, and UGH let’s please never talk about it” (except let’s please DO talk about, because they are now funny stories). So congratulations, this movie. We relate to you, all of us. At some point in our lives, I hope not now, because LET’S LEARN.

500 Days Of Summer


It is fine, it is all fine, it all works out! Tom realizes he needs to get his groove back, and Summer goes off and does her own thing. CHASING DREAMS. THEN CATCHING THEM. THE (500) DAYS OF SUMMER STORY.

500 Days Of Summer

So maybe let’s also think of it like this: if not for Summer, Tom wouldn’t have pursued the things he loves. And if not for Tom, Summer …I don’t know what. Wouldn’t have learned what she didn’t want. Growing. Necessary, but at times the worst. And courtesy of fil-ims like these, also very entertaining to watch.


  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=577785699 Vivian Or

    Zoomg you are so true. be my best frien..

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000405574171 Stephanie Colonna

    Love your analysis. I remembert the first time I watched the movie I didn´t apreciate it, probably because I was going through a bas relationship, whwer I was probably more of a Tom. Now after going through the breakup and being more mature I see the movie in a different light and reaaly relate to it.

    • Anne T. Donahue

      Right?! It’s a really great film! Especially since from this new perspective you see how Summer is treated like the bad guy just because she’s honest about what she wants. Very true to life (sadly).

      I’m glad you liked what I wrote — thank you, kindly! xo!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1132826512 Marina Longo

    I love how you write! You made me laugh so much. I agree when you say we’ve been there. Over and over again. “UUGHHH” indeed. Great movie! Great post!

    • Anne T. Donahue

      Thank you so much, Marina! All of the ‘UGGGHHH’s over being there! ALL OF THEM.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1708973005 Hemma Jarnig

    “I don’t know how to tell you this … but there’s a Chinese family in our bathroom…”


  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=513730885 Laura Fred Michael

    I want to see this movie so bad!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000097803521 Andy McIntosh

    Great article, Anne. I completely identified with Tom. I would have heard Summer saying it wasn’t going to be a traditional relationship on one side of my brain, and on the other side I would be saying to myself, “Please change your mind! Please! Please!”. I would have heard and understood what she said, but I would have just ignored it hoping it would go away. Then, when it would all come crashing down, I’d be thinking, “Damn! The ‘no traditional’ side won. I had no chance.” Then the depression would set in. The seemingly perfect woman had gotten away, even though I never really had her in the first place. Thank goodness for the way the film ends. Maybe things will be OK, anyway.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=851885006 Jenny Lonussen

    This movie is one of my favorites and I love everything you said. You gave me some new insights (which I didn’t expect after having seen it about 500 times haha). Anyhow I especially love the expectations/reality scene because for me it summarizes the movie. We see this story told from Tom’s perspective, so what we see is highly subjective (which is also an explanation of why everyone seems to irrationally hate Summer), But really it’s all based on what Tom expects/wants to happen, he has projected his own ideals and fantasy on Summer and well it doesn’t match up to reality. I think Summer really wanted to try, but there are no guarantees in life (she had her issues, he had his) and while she cared for him, it wasn’t enough and that should be ok. And this is why I love the ending of the film (or rather Summer’s final day and scene). Just because the relationship didn’t make it doesn’t mean that either person is terrible or to blame (they just weren’t suited for each other). I mean as you said in the end they wound up teaching each other some pretty crucial lessons in life. Believing in soulmates isn’t wrong and not believing in love isn’t wrong either.

    BTW RE: #12 I totally agree but what always struck me as odd is that Summer seemed disappointed in his answer (not sure if I’m projecting). But after they have that talk she seems to retreat, like the moment is completely over. I dunno it’s subtle things in her expression and body language that suggest that reaction to me.

    Anyhow loved this! :-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003289543002 Lily Nieves

    This movie definitely makes it to my top five faves! You can relate to both characters and who can’t relate to that bittersweet ending? I think up until the train station part, Summer did NOTHING wrong. She clearly told Tom she did not believe in falling in love and she did not want a boyfriend or a relationship. He pretended to be okay with that and later was hurt and upset by the fact that she wouldn’t label the relationship and called him a friend. He should have been honest with her and he would have avoided himself a lot of heartache. However, I think her actions at the train station/Milly’s wedding were completely wrong. I can’t imagine running into a an ex, chatting him up, giggling, dancing and laying my head on his shoulder and then inviting him to a party without mentioning I’m in a relationship and the party is for my engagement! That is just so cruel! She should have told him! Of course he got his hopes up only to be crushed again. This time it was totally her fault! If an ex did that to me he would be the worst a-hole in my book!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=504032852 Khurram Dharani

    I know as a guy I probably don’t have much say here, but this is one of my favorite movies, and this is a great article! However I’m not sure I understand how asking Summer if she had a boyfriend is inappropriate. I haven’t seen the movie in some time so perhaps the tone it was said was inappropriate? I’m not sure. The way I see it, isn’t it more inappropriate to ASSUME that Summer doesn’t have a boyfriend (or does have one)? How to do you even respectfully figure out if the lady you’re interested in has a significant other? Facebook stalking seems a lot more disrespectful than simply asking. With that being said I don’t think of Summer as a “bitch” or Tom as an inconsiderate idiot. Nobody at that age (the age I am now ha) knows what they want, it’s a part of life and this movie did a fantastic job of portraying that.

    Again this was a great read!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1586084915 Pauline Dao

    I’m sorry, but I’m going to express an unpopular opinion here. I don’t agree with the Summer defenders here. Her words were “I don’t want a relationship” but her actions did not say that. She told him that and yet she flirts with him, holds hands with him, kisses him, and has awkward sex with him. She was totally misleading him! So if there’s something that I’m missing here, I’d be glad if someone can clarify for me.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1354874954 Alan Howell

    I have to say that I LOVED this article. I’ve just recently (like, just ended last month) had my “Summer experience” (I was JGL), and I’ve just learned all the lessons that Tom learned. While this article was kinda painful to read (maybe I’m too close to the experiences), I loved it because I can relate. “(500) Days” has long been one of my favorite movies, but now I’ll have to watch it again and see how its changed, having learned what I have these past months.

    And I really now feel that there’s no bad guy in a story like this. Neither Summer nor Tom are totally in the wrong. It’s a learning experience for both parties, and we’re going to make mistakes while we go through stuff like this. Neither Summer nor Tom are bad people or doing really wrong. They’re just living life, feeling their way along like we all are.

    Oh, and off-subject but really not (since it’s in this article: “We all love Gin Blossoms, and that’s what matters.” YES.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1048104186 Nicole Carolina Ruminot Casanueva

    I’ve been reading many of your Old lady movie nights and I really like your writing style, and your insight and funny comments. You’ve already commented on some of the films that really made a mark on my childhood/teen years like Clueless and 10 things I hate about you. I just wanted to suggest “Ever after: a cinderella story” because I think that’s also a classic, and as you seem to like some of Drew Barrymore’s movies, maybe you’ll like this one too. Also, as you love Sofia Coppola, maybe you could also comment on “Lost in Translation”. I’m just saying it would be kind of awesomesauce :)

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