After his wife Maggie passes away, Sam Baldwin and his adolescent son Jonah relocate from Chicago to Seattle to escape the grief associated with Maggie's death. Eighteen months later, Sam is still grieving and can't sleep. Although Jonah misses his mother, he wants his father to get a new wife despite Sam having not even contemplated dating again. On Christmas Eve, Sam, on Jonah's initiative, ends up pouring his heart out on a national radio talk show about his magical and perfect marriage to Maggie, and how much he still misses her. Among the many women who hears Sam's story and falls in love with him solely because of it is Annie Reed, a Baltimore based newspaper writer. Annie's infatuation with Sam's story and by association Sam himself is despite being already engaged. But Annie's relationship with her straight-laced fiancé Walter is unlike her dream love life in the movie An Affair to Remember (1957). She even writes to Sam proposing they meet atop the Empire State Building on ... Written by
Annie Reed (Meg Ryan) hears, on a late night talk show, about a young boy Jonah Baldwin (Ross Malinger) and his dad Sam (Tom Hanks) missing their dead mother/spouse. Immediately Annie feels a connection with Sam thinking he might be her soul mate. Problem is she's engaged to Walter (Bill Pullman). Should she track down Sam and see...or stay with sweet, dependable, dull, safe Walter? What do you think?
The plot is ridiculous but damned if it doesn't work! The film is chock full of sweet, romantic songs and images. It all leads up to an admittedly howler of an ending on top of the Empire State Building--it was so over the top that, while they were shooting it, director Nora Ephron was muttering under her breath "Can we get away with this?"! Well...they did! I've got to admit I actually was getting a little misty-eyed at that point. You really don't realize how silly the movie is while watching it. The actors and the sweet, romantic tone of the film really pull you in.
Hanks and Ryan were perfectly cast as the leads. They're both very good actors and excellent comedians. Unfortunately, this movie was such a huge hit that Ryan was type cast as a sweet, romantic woman. She's only now getting rid of that image. Pullman is bad in his role but it is NOT his fault. He doesn't have anything to work with--his character isn't even given a last name! He's just there as a plot contrivance. Rosie O'Donnell, however, provides excellent support as Ryans' boss. Also Rob Reiner, Rita Wilson (Hanks' real life wife) and Victor Garber shine in small roles. Also Malinger is very good as Hanks' son. The only thing that bothered me was the constant references to the old Hollywood weepie "An Affair to Remember". I HATE that film! If you hate romantic comedies avoid this at all costs. But if you're a romantic, like me, you'll love it! A definite 10!
Two great bits (among many):
An exchange between Hanks and a date on Hanks' son (who's being obnoxious): "He's only 8." "He's very good at it."
And a hysterical discussion between Hanks, Wilson and Garber about "Affair..." and "The Dirty Dozen"!
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