When Harry Met Sally... (1989)
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I literally couldn't wait to see what would happen in the next scene. This is one of those movies that goes by very quickly. I think that's a sign of a good movie, when you just can't believe that you're already an hour or so into the movie. The story really flows nicely from scene to scene.
The cast is great in the film as well. Billy Crystal pulls off one of his best performances, and has a slew of great jokes throughout the film. Meg Ryan looks as beautiful as ever and has such a cute way about her. Bruno Kirby and Carrie Fisher definitely deserve a great deal of credit too, they both did superb jobs as well. Director Rob Reiner did a great job with the film, keep up the good work Rob.
If you're into romantic comedies, then you definitely should see this film. Even if you aren't really into the whole romantic part of it, the comedy is great and worth seeing. I would most definitely recommend seeing this film.
I hope you like it. Thanks for reading,
Like all good films coming from the genere, this film thrives most on its witty dialgue and cleverness in not "sentimnetalizing" it too much. In other words, there is that perfect equilibrium between scenes of sheer poignancy and scenes of brutal comic relief. The thespians involved, of course, have a lot to do with the film's success and overall appeal. Ryan and Crystal are perfect for the roles assigned, each one of them bringing their charisma and fresh breath of life to the screen. Crystal fits snugly into that character we find all too obnoxious but can't help but loving and Ryan, well, she is as adorable as always.
The issue the film tackles is an important one, I think. It asks us a question of universal importance, namely, can women and men ever be friends?. I'll leave that for you and your friends to talk about at Pizzaria Uno. For now, I'll just say that with heaps of quirky, funny dialogue, a taut script from Nora Ephron, and clean directing form Reiner, "When Harry met Sally" is a highly enjoyable film that unsurprisingly has held strong a decade after its inception.
Meg might be the reason guys want to see this movie, again and again, but after a while you begin to appreciate the contribution Crystal made to the film. The dialogue has his name all over it. The dialogue in this film is at times simply amazing - check the memorable quotes here if you've seen the movie and have forgot.
I would not pick this movie out of a barrel as most likely to be so influential, but it's a fact that it is, and rightfully so. Great support from Kirby and Fisher. Today it's Hanks and Ryan who are paired, thanks undoubtedly to Sleepless in Seattle, but one wonders why no one has tried to get Crystal and Ryan back together again. They're fantastic.
This is one of the all-time best movies ever made. All-time 10? Or 20? or 1000? I don't know; it's just one of the best - it has that quality about it. Keeper.
Now, disregard the above paragraph. Because When Harry Met Sally makes up for its slights to credibility and lack of rigorous thought by being easily the funniest movie of its year (1989). This humor flows mainly from the beautifully crafted scenes and dialogue; indeed, each scene is a dialogue set piece (and could be transferred to the stage quite easily - surprising no one's ever done it, actually), which flows with the firm and confident rapidity of a 20th century Shaw or Oscar Wilde. Of course, this approach has its downside, too: mainly that the lead characters seem less and less like real people and more like tools for the brilliant lines and conceits of the screenwriter (Nora Ephron - never better; in fact, never even remotely close ever again). This may have something to do with the film's inability to seem completely real or true to human nature as it actually plays out - but with lines like these, who's complaining?
For, what is great about the movie is not its originality (it steals from all over, especially Woody Allen movies, and the few ideas it can truly call its own are, as I've said, not particularly bright or well-thought out), but its ability to hone in on stereotypes of character and situation and offer pithy and hilarious precis of the male-female condition through the witty banter and interaction of its characters. As such, the film is less like a conventional movie and more like a stand-up routine dealing with life and love in the Big City: it is to be judged not by its content, but by the dexterity of its put-ons and one-liners. (It is not surprising, for example, that several of its set-pieces and comic notions were revisited just a few years later, and in much the same manner, on "Seinfeld".) In that regard, it succeeds flawlessly.
Just think of all the conventions it gets in, and skewers: the one-track mind male (Harry); the "sensitive" and practical female, repulsed yet intrigued by said male (Sally); the emotionally unsettled mistress playing the field (Carrie Fisher, who keeps an index card file of "available" men); the live-ins who can't "commit" (Sally and her ex-boyfriend); women's concern with middle age and their biological clock ("I'm gonna be 40," weeps Sally. "When?" asks Harry. "Someday."); the male's tendency to skip out after making love; the horror and unpredictability of blind dates; and, in a scene which is almost passe to mention anymore, women's ability to fake orgasm. The way this film jumps from one familiar convention to another would be embarrassing if it weren't for the fact that each one is handled with such economy, humor and grace.
Billy Crystal acquits himself well as Harry - predictably, perhaps, as it's a part tailor made for a standup comedian. Still, seeing him in this after years of half-baked movies and fawning Oscar presentations, it's a revelation how glib and unlikable he can allow himself to be . . . and *still* be likable. Yo, Billy, if you're listening out there: try incorporating some of Harry's darker shadings and more egocentric traits into your future roles; it gives you a more complete palette to work from and keeps you from being too generic and schticky. And your charm and humor will always shine through anyway.
If Billy needs to edge a little bit closer back to Harry, though, Meg Ryan needs to get Sally completely out of her system. This role, deservedly, made her a star - but she has tried to go back to this particular well once too many times, and it's become way too familiar: you know, the adorable, bright-eyed bit - mentally disheveled, prissy around the edges with just a wisp of klutziness, all topped by that cute, mega-watt smile. It has become now the "Meg Ryan" character, but back when Sally came along it was still fresh, and it was tied to a particular personality. Ryan gives Sally a shy-cum-toughness as well as a moody, slightly cynical and self-deprecating wit that is just totally right. She and Crystal play off each other like two old pros, and they weave in and out of some charming and hilarious verbal music.
It's funny, but I just recently saw this movie on a Saturday afternoon television marathon of "Romantic Weepies" - and it struck me as an odd designation, because this movie is anything but a weeper. It takes a clear-eyed, almost cynical view of love and companionship, and creates around it a charming tapestry of bracing wit and crunching dialogue. So save the violins and the handkerchiefs for romantic comedies less sure on their feet - whose deficiency in wit must be made up for by a surfeit of melodrama and manipulation. This movie is manipulative too, of course, but its manipulation is almost beside the point. It's the laughs along the way we remember here, not the big kiss or the grand embrace. That Harry and Sally were "meant" for each other and that the film "proves" it is much less important than the fact that Sally does one hell of a great orgasm.
Waiter, I'll have what they're having . . .
First of all, there are some hilarious lines in this movie that will appeal to men and women. Second, the orgasm scene in the restaurant has got to be one of the funniest scenes in movie history. And finally, the guys will be cheering on Billy Crystal, as he makes love to a LOT of women in this movie. I really enjoyed this movie, and I'm pretty sure that I am a guy (I'll check later).
Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan will remind everyone of their everyday lives in this true-to-life (and very funny) movie. So guys, don't reject "When Harry Met Sally..." just because women cried at it. And girls, if you see this movie, you will probably want to see it another 50 times.
I know people like Meg Ryan - I guess I do, too, in this particular film - and I know that there are people who find her `orgasm' scene amusing, but Sally is really just someone for Harry to meet and ultimately fall in love with. She's completely clueless. Most of the jokes are at her expense rather than his. The genuine wit, the power of observation, the theoretical insight, all lie with Harry. Is this a problem? Not in the least. Unlike most romantic comedies this is not some kind of duel - it's the more realistic study of many, many separate encounters.
Also unlike most romantic comedies, this one is funny. I think I mentioned that.
The film benefits from its second rank support: good performances by Carrie Fischer and that guy whose name doesn't matter, locations someone actually went to some trouble to look for, and a song-score that is doesn't intrude and hit us repeatedly over the head. Allegedly `When Harry Met Sally' has been imitated by later productions, but I can't think of a case where the imitation is accurate enough to even be recognisable.
Do you like Capra and old Hollywood? Which is to say, do you cherish movies where we can pretend that people are struggling in the real world, while knowing every step of the way they're falling in love in a movie? And that life ought to work a bit like this, love as unpredictable fate.
Do you not mind Woody Allen? Enough to accept the roundly toned-down narrative tricks, neurosis, cynical wit as disillusioned truth and reference to other movies as blueprint for life, in our case (linking back to #1) Casablanca. (if you like Allen too much, this will grate as second-rate compromise)
Can you still stomach Allen's movie image of the cute, jazzy New York?
Do you watch endless reruns of Friends, just because of the cozy mood?
Can you kid yourself for a while that Cosmo blurbs can substitute for relationship insights?
None of it means you are a bad person. You just want from time to time some comfort food for the eyes. So if half of those are true, Rob Reiner has prepared for you this sticky-sweet film from Nora Ephron's smart recipe, much better than Ephron's own with Hanks and Ryan, Sleepless and You've Got Mail.
Here there are two guys in their 20's, travelling to New York for a better life, arguing about the things they think, do, and expect of their future, and so on. These scenes in the car driving to New York could be extremely boring, but writer Nora Ephron (who would write for Meg Ryan again in "You've got mail") makes them very interesting. "How can't you be afraid of death?", Sally tells Harry, and he answers: "I'm just prepared, when I read a book I always read the ending first in case I die and I can't finish it".
Years later that trip is history, and they both have various encounters through the years. She pretends he doesn't recognize her, because she remembers him perfectly. She was actually captivated by him on that trip but never told him. On the other hand, he pretends to be casual, but hasn't erased her from his mind; after more than a decade! Soon they start hanging out, telling each other everything, and become best friends; but if you saw them on the street you wouldn't doubt to think they are a couple.
Why don't they confess their feelings? You've got to see the film to figure it out; you've got to witness what happens, how it happens and most importantly why. In our original time, Rob Reiner did this picture more than a decade ago, and he directed it simply and honestly. Without knowing he also brought us one of the first climatic endings in a romantic comedy; those when the guy declares his love in the last minutes, in a powerful touching final speech, you know.
But what he actually got right was the cast. Yes, he got together two actors that achieved a unique chemistry in a movie that needed it entirely. Billy Crystal, showing that way of speaking that is only his and a mark for any good comedian. Rob Reiner helped him to become the super comedic star he was already becoming. And Meg Ryan will be ever grateful to this opportunity that showed her unusual beauty, natural talent and all the other things that would make her the queen of the romantic comedy.
Yet when they released 'When Harry met Sally' in 1989, it signified to the world that the RomCom was not only out of bed but it was showered, shaved, dressed in a brand new suit and ready to take on the world once more with new found confidence.
It's 1977 and Harry Burns (Billy Crystal) has just graduated from the University of Chicago and is moving to New York to start his career. He's a nice enough guy who's only flaw seems to be his apparent misogynistic and macabre outlook on life.
Also New York bound is fellow graduate Sally Albright (Meg Ryan) who as a favour for a friend agrees to take Harry along. The two have never met before and almost immediately Sally takes a dislike to him. His brash and over flirtatious demeanour irritates her intensely and her quirky prissiness becomes a natural target for his humour. He even sexually propositions her, which she of course rejects outright.
In view of all this coupled with Harry's somewhat blinkered idea that men and women can never be friends without sexual attraction becoming an issue, they reach New York and mutually call an abrupt halt to their 18 hour friendship, both convinced it has lasted 18 hours too long.
Fast forward five years and Harry and Sally meet again at an airport and when he discovers they are on the same flight, he approaches her to rekindle their friendship and this time things are even worse.
Despite both finding love and success in New York, the years have done nothing to kerb Harry's sexist and irritating views and Sally's abject disapproval of everything that he stands for seems even more pronounced. They part once again at journeys end, this time with Sally making it quite clear she wants nothing whatsoever to do with him again.
Another five years pass and both Harry and Sally meet in a bookshop both having recently lost the loves referred to in the previous paragraph. Harry is divorcing his unfaithful wife and Sally has just dumped her long-term relationship as it was becoming clear to her that it was never going to end in an 'I Do'.
This time however, possibly due to them both being humbled by recent events in their life, they find that they have empathy with each other and a friendship starts to build, a true platonic friendship to the extent where they finally become inseparable and reliant on each other almost on a brother and sister level.
They partner each other at functions when neither have a date, they set each other up on blind dates and even take day trips together to the museum, and by using each other as an emotional crutch they finally learn to settle the demons of their previous relationships.
It seems like Harry has finally realised and now thoroughly excepts that men and women CAN be friends without a sexual entanglement. In fact so secure are they in their beliefs that they are nothing more than just good friends, they seem completely oblivious to the fact that they have in fact fallen head of heals in love with each other.
Billy Crystal is on fine form in one of his most memorable and hilarious performances and Meg Ryan 'Fakes' her way into movie history in that now famous restaurant scene. With great direction by Rob Reiner, a superb script by Nora Ephron and wonderful support from Carrie Fisher and Bruno Kirby, 'When Harry Met Sally' is the Crème de la Crème of all the modern day RomComs.
Meg Ryan, probably the most irritating actress to have (dis-)graced the big screen, had already perfected her cutesy/dippy persona to such an extent that five minutes exposure was enough to send the less hardened of us gibbering from the room. Even fifteen years later, I'm finding it difficult to cope with the trauma of having been shut in a darkened cinema with 'that performance'.
As for the 'memorable dialogue' - it's possible I've blanked it out to protect myself, but I certainly couldn't repeat any of it now. Or even a minute after I left the building. Apart, of course, from the 'hilariously' original orgasm scene. Aaaagh! To give you a little context, I generally don't much like Hollywood movies - but I don't slate them all. This really is poor.
Oh! And by the way ... it's boring!!! Well, there it is. I'm glad to get that off my chest!
Many people will tell you the plot is weak, but the movie is good because of characters. Okay, well, I disagree. I think the plot, the characters and the script all work together to form an excellent romantic comedy. Whether it be the irony in the script, the characters' quirks or the smart, snappy, crisp dialogue thrown between Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan, "When Harry Met Sally" not only meets every expectation, but exceeds.
The film opens up with Harry Burns (Crystal) and Sally Albright (Ryan) driving to New York. Sally is best friends with Harry's girlfriend, Amanda. As they drive along, Harry and Sally start getting into a heated debate over "Casablanca." This discussion ends in discussing something a bit more risque: If men and women can sleep together and still be friends in the morning. Harry's standpoint is a no. Sally says yes. Harry explains that "no man can be friends with a woman that he finds attractive. He always wants to have sex with her." Sally replies, "So, you're saying that a man can be friends with a woman he finds unattractive?" Harry comes back with, "No. You pretty much want to nail 'em too."
That's the kind of dialogue you get a lot in this movie. If you want to compare Crystal's character to another fictional one, it would be George from "Seinfeld." George has all these intricate theories worked out about everything, from double-dipping to violating the "splash zone." (If you've seen the episode I'm talking about you'll get it.)
Harry Burns is the same way. Only his theories are all on sex, and/or the differences between men and women. You could call him pessimistic. He admits he has a dark side. Sally says, "I have as much of a dark side as the next person." Harry replies, "When I get a new book, I read the last page first so I know what happens in case I die. That, my friend, is a dark side." Funny, I do the same thing and I've never really thought about it.
Writer Nora Ephron based her screenplay on none other than the director of the film - Rob Reiner - and his love life. She sat down with him and another person once, and listened intently to his stories. According to her, she then coughed up a screenplay, handed it to Rob, and they made the film.
Rob Reiner is one of the most talented and dependable directors in Hollywood. He adds a certain innocence, a certain charm, and a certain chemistry to his films that is hard to miss. His last great (or very good) film was "The American President," but everyone finds themself in a ditch after a while, and I think as far as directors go, Reiner was one of the most consistently dependable directors during the eighties and nineties. Check this out: "This is Spinal Tap," "The Princess Bride," "When Harry Met Sally," "Misery," "Sleepless in Seattle," "The American President": All very good - some great - motion pictures that have become as famous as I don't know what.
Coming to the cast, Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan are an absolute comic and romantic pairing. Every line is real. Every inch of attraction doesn't seem artificial. I swear that the first fifteen minutes of this film has some of the most interesting, engaging and downright smart dialogue I have ever seen in a film. Crystal and Ryan - especially Crystal - really break down everything and kind of make rules out of everything. Like Harry's amendment in the beginning, or how they dissect everything later on in the film and analyze it. I like when characters in films are quirky and have theories on everything. To me, people that have theories on life might as well hold the meaning of life in their hands, because to them, they are.
"When Harry Met Sally" is a keen observation on modern life, romance, men, women, friendship, and sex. And if you want something a bit tamer and more for the general audience, I recommend "Sleepless in Seattle," which has just as much chemistry and observation going on as "When Harry Met Sally" does.
In a time of cheap teen romance films, artificial dialogue and downright uninteresting stories, rarely does a romantic comedy like this come along, and it's an honor to watch something as observational, true, sweet, engaging, humorous, and lovely as "When Harry Met Sally."
4.5/5 stars -
The whole film was nothing but sex talk. Hey, I don't mind some of that. It can very funny. But the whole movie, nothing but sex talk after sex talk? Come on!
Well, two people that made this a very overrated film are director Rob Reiner and actress Meg Ryan. Reiner is a sleaze from way back, an extremist who has no clue what morals are, and I don't ever believe I have seen a good movie which starred Ryan. She has a beautiful face, but that's it. Her movies are consistent, I'll give her that - they all stink!
This is the film so many other romantic comedies try to live up to, yet most often fail to accomplish. Creating two memorable and likable characters such as Harry Burns and Sally Albright has proven to be more stereotype than unique. Harry with his easy going attitude towards women, and Sally with her obsessive compulsive ways. The two are seeming opposites personality wise, and at first, these traits keep them apart. It takes them ten years to even have a real conversation without tension between them because one is a man, and the other a woman. Yet it takes one event, both getting dumped by their significant others, to bring them together to bond over.
What makes this film so memorable is the dialogue, with an outstanding screenplay by Nora Ephron. The Oscar nomination she was given for writing this film was highly deserved, for penning such lines as why men and women can never be friends, as well as Harry's declaration of love t the film's end.
The film also supports a strong supporting cast from Carrie Fisher, as well as Bruno Kirby as the best friends to the lead characters. Every supporting player here remains memorable, down to the cameos such as director Reiner's mother who states the now famous, "I'll have what she's having." line.
The ending to this film can bring tears to those who watch it every time. It is films like this that give hope to people that one day, they will find that one person who challenges them, and loves them for exactly who they are. When Harry Met Sally is the perfect film to watch for people of all ages, and will certainly stand the test of time. Highly recommended.