500 Days of Summer may be one of the 21st Century’s best romantic comedies, mainly because it doesn’t stick to the usual formula. Directed by Marc Webb (the guy responsible for the sub-par Amazing Spider-Man movies), and starring Joseph Gordon Levitt and Zoey Deschanel, 500 Days of Summer took the romantic comedy to a more realistic place. This is stated at the very beginning: if you’re one of the people that thinks the end of The Graduate is romantic then you’re in for the same sharp shock as the Tom is. Filled with visual flair and fantastic performances, you may be in need of something similar once the credits roll. Here are 10 movies like 500 Days of Summer.
Forgetting Sarah Marshall
Before Forgetting Sarah Marshall Jason Segel was best known as Marshall from How I Met Your Mother as well as a supporting turn in Judd Apatow’s Knocked Up. That all changed thanks to his starring role in this hilarious romantic comedy; which he also wrote. Segel stars as Peter Bretter, a sluggish musical composer who gets dumped by the titular Sarah Marshall played by Kristen Bell. If that wasn’t bad enough, the former couple end up at the same Hawaii holiday resort at the same time, with Sarah accoyed by her new lover: rock star Aldous Snow. Forced to be in the same place, Peter has to put up with his rival and his ex ruining his chance for a quiet retreat. The film is a riot, with supporting turns from Russell Brand as Aldous, Bill Hader as Peter’s brother in law, and an extended cameo for Paul Rudd as a surfing instructor.
Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist
When choosing movies like 500 Days of Summer, a major factor is how good the soundtrack is. Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist makes the movies’ soundtrack vital to the plot. Starring Michael Cera and Kat Denning’s as the titular couple, the film is almost a musical odyssey. The plot is simple: Nick meets Nora when she asks him to pretend to be her boyfriend for a few minutes and they bond through a love of the same band who is playing a secret show somewhere in the city. To add a further complication, Nora’s friend gets drunk and goes missing, meaning their quest has two outcomes. While the movie doesn’t have the same visual flair of 500 Days of Summer, it does relay on the great chemistry between its two leads. The soundtrack lives up to expectations with songs from the likes of Vampire Weekend, Band of Horses, and We Are Scientists.
From a movie like 500 Days of Summer to one that shares the same lead actor. 50/50 is the first movie to star both Joseph Gordon Levitt and Seth Rogen. Gordon Levitt plays Adam Lerner who discovers that he suffers from a malignant tumor on his spine. The movie, which has been described as a cancer comedy, charts Adam’s treatment and the relationships lost and gained along the way. For added realism, 50/50 is based on the experiences screenwriter of Will Reiser when he was diagnosed with cancer. Gordon Levitt and Rogen are the main attraction here as the former soars in an uncommon comedic role, and the latter working with more dramatic material than his normal comedy outings. As Adam’s condition grows worse the movie takes its foot off the comedic pedal allowing it’s talented cast, which includes Bryce Dallas Howard and Anna Kendrick, to do most of the heavy lifting.
The early part of the decade belonged to Joseph Gordon Levitt as his cinematic output showcased his wide range of acting skills in the likes of Lincoln, Looper, and The Dark Knight Rises. With Don Jon, Levitt made the transition into the director’s chair with this funny and moving comedy about Jon Martello, Jr., also played by the director, and how his addiction to pornography disrupts his romantic relationships. The movie centers around two of Jon’s romantic partners: Barbara Sugarman and Esther. Barbara is played by Scarlett Johansson in a role that is the complete opposite of Black Widow with predictably hilarious results. The real star is Gordon Levitt with a brilliantly layered performance of what at first seems like a shallow character. It’s a shame that, as of the time of writing, this is still the only movie that he has directed.
La La Land
La La Land is the movie most like %00 Days of Summer on this list. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone star as lovers trying to break into their respective creative industries with varying results. As one of the best loved modern musicals, La La Land is a funny and heartfelt story about the power of ambition over love. That may seem like a downer, but director Damien Chazelle (Whiplash) maintains the light tone with a batch of musical sequences that are visually stunning. Both Gosling and Stone are fantastic, with their easy chemistry more than making up for their questionable attempt at dancing. Since its release, La La Land has become the most recent addition to the best movies of all time lists, and even bagged a Best Director Oscar for Chazelle, while also being the shortest Best Picture Winner thanks to the Academy accidentally awarding it instead of the real winner Moonlight.
Zoe Kazan wrote and starred in this deconstruction of the romantic comedy alongside her alongside her real-life partner Paul Dano. Directed by Little Miss Sunshine duo Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, Ruby Sparks follows Calvin Weir-Fields (Paul Dano), a young novelist who discovers that his new novel’s female lead, Ruby Sparks, has come to life. It’s a terrific premise, and the movie explores the reductive categories in which male artists put their female characters in. as the movie progresses, Calvin discovers how to control Ruby making her an ideal instead of treating her like a real person. It’s a funny, and a little disturbing, challenge to women’s place in both popular culture and the way that men see them. What begins as a slight romantic comedy takes a dark turn as Calvin increasingly exerts more control over Ruby’s behavior and personality. Much like 500 Days of Summer, Ruby Sparks fits the description of anti-rom com.
The Big Sick
Zoe Kazan’s second appearance on this list of movies like 500 Days of Summer comes in the form of The Big Sick. Praised as one of the best romantic comedies of the decade, The Big Sick is loosely based on writer and star Kumail Nanjiani’s relationship with his wife and co-writer Emily V. Gordon. Kazan plays Gordon’s role as Emily Gardner who begins a relationship with Kumail before falling into a coma. From here The Big Sick investigates the role of cultural difference between Kmail and Emily’s parents and how that affects their relationship. The Big Sick, despite its title suggesting otherwise, is a warm-hearted look at the kind of story that isn’t being told in mainstream cinema. It hit a nerve with audiences and critics alike, especially the performances from Emily’s parents played by Holly Hunter and a career-best Ray Romano.
Director Drake Dormas’ breakthrough may have more in common with a similar romantic drama of the time in the form of Blue Valentine, but it inches closer to movies like 500 Days of Summer in terms of showing the difficulties in maintaining a relationship that may not last. The late Anton Yelchin and Rogue One’s Felicity Jones star as a couple undone by a long distance who are forced apart due to something as mundane as an overdue visa. As Jacob and Anna, the movie’s leads have a palpable chemistry that makes you root for their eventual reunion. Like Crazy is a quieter, more introspective movie than the rest of the entries but it comes alive in the smallest of details thanks to the performances, including an eye-catching early role for Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence. This is the movie that helped Jones become the star she is today, while also being a fitting platform for Yelchin’s considerable talents.
One Fine Day
For the penultimate pick we have to travel back to the mid-90s when star power ruled Hollywood. One Fine Day is a strange mix of romantic comedy, family drama, and what happens when George Clooney and Michelle Phifer share the screen. While One Fine Day is no Citizen Kane, it’s still a feel-good movie that transports the screwball stylings of Howard Hawks by putting a 90s spin on it. It’s a perfect stage for Clooney’s easy charm and Phifer’s comedic chops. Some of the 90s trappings age the film badly, I would be surprised if modern audience are either baffled or thankful that beepers don’t exist anymore. Besides these small issues, One Fine Day is an upbeat movie about the often-humorous struggles of single parents balancing child care with a career. A note of caution before watching it: the movie’s officially song is the kind of earworm that you’ll be humming to death for days after.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind may be the only movie that uses the full toolbox of visual styles better than 500 Days of Summer. Michel Gondry directs this weird movie from an obviously weird script by Charlie Kaufman which tells the story of Joel, played by a never better Jim Carrey, who in finding out that his ex-girlfriend Clementine, an equally good Kate Winslet, has erased their entire relationship from her mind, decides to go through the procedure himself. Like 500 Days of Summer, Eternal Sunshine investigates the reasons why over-romantic people find themselves adrift after their partner has left and how their perception of these relationships may be the thing that almost destroys them. Also, like 500 Days of Summer, Eternal Sunshine uses special effects in order to fully explore their leading man’s psychological wounds. While that doesn’t make either sound like a laugh riot, both find a lot of humor in the journey.