Summer Finn, a narrator tells us, is an average woman in many ways—like height and weight, though slightly above average shoe size. Yet something about her arrests men's attention. She gets an average of 18.4 double takes per day. This is, we are told, "the Summer Effect."
She's the new assistant to Vance, who runs a greeting card company. Tom Hansen, one of the card writers, is struck by her presence. A few days later, in an elevator, she overhears the Smiths leaking from Tom's earphones. "I love the Smiths!" she says, then softly sings along, "'To die by your side, is such a heavenly way to die.'"
And so a relationship begins. But what kind of relationship is it? In a conversation soon after at work, Tom says it's possible to meet the one you were made for and fall in love forever. Summer says she doesn't believe in love; all she wants is to "have fun and save the serious stuff for later." At this, Tom's bug-eyed coworker McKenzie blurts out, "She's a dude!"
This movie charts 500 days in Tom and Summer's relationship, skipping forward and backward during that time (though preceding each scene with the day's number, to keep us oriented; this is not one of those artsy time-shuffle films that sets out to confuse you). And, though it's billed as a comedy, it casts a powerfully romantic spell. There will be proposals in the wake of this movie. Yet it's determinedly unsentimental, and there's nothing about it to repel male viewers. It doesn't look particularly romantic from the outside. It sneaks up on you.
What it does look like is an extraordinarily creative stretch of filmmaking. There are segments that recall Michel Gondry's special effects (particularly in Eternal Sunlight of the Spotless Mind), as an entire streetscape ...