Why (500) Days of Summer is the Geekiest Film You’ve Never Seen or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Get Excited About Spider-Man

By Matt Peters

After much convincing by my friend John Castro, I finally sat down and watched the 2009 movie (500) Days of Summer. I’m not a big fan of romcoms, and I was determined to avoid yet another film that features the typical formula: the guy is a bumbling, macho fool who changes his ways thanks to a strong-willed independent woman who softens her man-hatin’ stance and eventually swoons for the still rough-around-the-edges schlub. Why would I waste my time watching that kid from 3rd Rock from the Sun fall in love with a girl with cartoonishly huge eyes?

Mark Webb directed the film who, at the time, didn’t have much feature-length directing experience under his belt. The movie feels a little like Scott Pilgrim vs. The World without all of the game and comic references in the sense that the characters are very well spoken and have depth beyond what’s immediately shown on the surface. Webb’s directing style, combined with various slapstick elements and a witty script make for a comedic experience that may surprise some viewers. He even went so far as to direct a short to accompany one throwaway line featuring the stars in a Sid & Nancy parody.

A well-cast ensemble of actors does this story justice as well. After his co-starring role in Inception, Joseph Gordon-Levitt suddenly appeared on Hollywood’s radar once again. Proving he’s got chops for action films, Inception director Christopher Nolan decided to cast Gordon-Levitt in his final Batman film. Not to be outdone, Zooey Deschanel “famously” portrayed Trillian in the 2009 version of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and Dorothy in the Syfy (then Sci-Fi Channel) miniseries Tin Man.

Then there’s Geoffrey Arend. You may not know the name, but he’s such a deep staple of the geek community, it’s surprising he hasn’t guest starred on Chuck yet. Maybe best known for his recent role in M. Night Shyamalan’s Devil, Arend has also appeared in Undeclared, Garden State, and Super Troopers. As if that’s not enough, he also does a substantial amount of voice work, having been featured in games like Neverwinter Nights 2, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, and Red Dead Revolver.

While on the subject of voice work, the movie’s narrator is Richard McGonagle, whose credits include countless roles voicing Cartoon Network characters on shows like Samurai Jack, Ben 10, and Star Wars: Clone Wars. He’s had his share of video game credits as well, having been featured in Metal Gear Solid 3 and X-Men Legends II. Oh, and he also voices some guy named Sully in a game called Uncharted.

Community’s Yvette Nicole Brown even has a small part, albeit without the charm and comedic timing she brings to her sitcom role. Clark Gregg appears as JGL’s boss long before he portrayed Agent Coulson in the Marvel movies and Chloe Mortez proves that she was foul-mouthed predating her run as Kick-Ass’ partner Hit Girl.

The bottom line is you can do a lot worse with two hours. The Blu-ray version I saw was gorgeous, and the soundtrack wasn’t too bad either. While there’s a little bit of artificial sweetness here and there, there’s plenty to be entertained by. At the very least, it’s cool to see a “Who’s Who” of geekdom in one place. Webb will get his chance at geek royalty when he releases Amazing Spider-Man this summer. Frankly, there’s no better named director for the job.