Classic Movie Review: Sleepless in Seattle (1993)

Posted: August 19, 2012 in Comedy, Romance

Annie Reed (Meg Ryan) is a newspaper columnist from Baltimore.  She’s convinced herself that she is happy, being engaged to Walter (Bill Pullman) a steady, reliable, sometimes quirky fiancé.  Annie has a talk with her mother, Barbara, (LeChanche du Rand).  Barbara describes the moment she met her husband as “magic.”    Annie has resigned herself to the fact that she will never have magic with Walter, but she pushes on with her wedding plans anyway.  To pass the time in her car, Annie turns on a radio show hosted by a psychologist named Dr. Marcia Fieldstone (Caroline Aron) A young boy named Jonah (Ross Mallanger) calls the show and says his dad, Sam (Tom Hanks) is lonely and needs a wife.  Jonah explains that his mom, Maggie, (Cary Lowell) passed away recently, and so his dad is moping around the house.  Later in the same phone call, Sam takes the phone, and starts to describe in detail what a great woman Maggie was.  By this time, Annie is in tears over this man who she’s never met.

Annie is hooked.  She listens to the radio show incessantly for weeks.  She does a Lexis Nexis search on Sam at the newspaper and finds out he lives in Seattle.  She tells her editor she needs to do a story on radio psychologists, and quick as a bunny, Annie is on a plane to Seattle to meet Sam.  By the time she actually sees him, Sam is hugging another woman, who Annie thinks is his girlfriend.  Does the relationship end before it starts?  Does Annie go back to her safe fiancé, Walter?

This is the perfect romantic comedy.  The story pulls the viewer in immediately, it is not schmaltzy or manipulative, the emotions of grief and loss seem very real, that’s a credit to Hanks, Meg Ryan, and young Ross Malenger, who does a really good job in a really tough role.  A lot of people will say When Harry Met Sally is their favorite romantic comedy, I disagree, Sleepless in Seattle is much better and here’s why.  Billy Crystal is primarily a comedic actor, I will never think of him as a romantic lead.  Hanks is someone who is very funny who can easily be a romantic lead.  And Hanks is at his sensitive, funny, best.  He also interacts with Mallenger as a real father would, because Hanks is a father, and at that time his son was young.  Meg Ryan was also at the height of her perky cuteness at the time, and she was also a natural in this role.  Even though they have very few scenes together, Hanks and Ryan had unmistakable chemistry.  The writing, by the late Nora Ephron, is superb, the dialogue just crackles.  So many movies have tried the same formula, woman on the way to the altar, only to meet someone on the way.  So few of these movies are funny or touching, this happens to be both.  Nora Epron tried again with the same lead actors with You’ve Got Mail, but for whatever reason, that didn’t work.  Sleepless in Seattle was…magic!

Sleepless in Seattle.  Before Starbucks a reason to stay awake.


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