Sleepless in Seattle (1993)
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So begins a romantic odyssey that probably could only happen in the movies, but it makes no difference because in Ephron's capable hands, this story works, and it works beautifully. There's a line in the movie, in fact, that kind of sums it all up: Becky (played by Rosie O'Donnell) says something to the effect to Annie that, `You don't want love, you want `movie' love. And maybe that's why this movie is so endearing and enduring; it's about the kind of love you find in a perfect world, the kind of love everybody wants and needs (though few will admit it, even to themselves) but rarely finds, and Ephron knows exactly how to make it connect with her audience. It has to do with understanding basic human needs and knowing how to translate it all into a cinematic art form that will effectively reach those who see it. And Nora Ephron does it as well-- or possibly better-- than any director before or since, and as she proved later with `You've Got Mail,' this film was no fluke; she knows her stuff, and she knows how to deliver it. It's intentionally and shamelessly sentimental, but rather than maudlin, Ephron hits just the right emotional tone, and it's perfect, from the romance to the humor she injects at just the right moment to offset the drama, to the music-- using just the right song at just the right time-- that does so much to enhance the story.
Having a great cast, of course, certainly helped her in her endeavor, beginning with Tom Hanks who, with his portrayal of Sam, demonstrates once again what a consummate actor he is. Few actors can step into any given genre of film and create a character that is so complete and believable every time out the way Hanks can. Some of his characters may share some traits and have similarities, but he manages to make each one unique, which is quite a feat. When you can watch Hanks and forget that you're watching `Hanks,' you know he's accomplished something. As an actor he is remarkably giving, and so undaunted when it comes to using and exposing what he has inside. And his ability to circumvent any natural inhibitions makes him great at what he does, and it's what makes a character like Sam so memorable.
Meg Ryan, as well, is an accomplished actor who can play drama as well as comedy (check out her performance in `When A Man Loves A Woman'), but she really sparkles in romantic comedies like this one, and she is absolutely perfect for the role of Annie (just as she was for her role in `You've Got Mail'). She makes Annie a very real person, and through her we can empathize with Sam's situation, as she enables and allows the audience to experience what she is feeling right along with her. Ryan, through her character, makes that emotional involvement possible, and it's one of the strengths of the film. And like Hanks with Sam, Ryan makes Annie a character you're going to remember.
The exemplary supporting cast includes Bill Pullman (Walter), Rita Wilson (Suzy), Victor Gerber (Greg), Tom Riis Farrell (Rob), David Hyde Pierce (Dennis), Dana Ivey (Claire), Gaby Hoffman (Jessica) and Rob Reiner (Jay). Essentially a poignant and heart-felt treatise by Nora Ephron on life and love, `Sleepless In Seattle' is a film that offers a multitude of rewards if you are simply willing to reach out and open yourself up to it. All you have to do is let it in. Do it, and you'll be glad you did, guaranteed. It's the magic of the movies. I rate this one 10/10.
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"!
I mean don't get me wrong, I liked how the movie started, but Annie doesn't prove herself in any way. she has a fiancée that loves her and who has some unconvincing quirks that make him the one that must be dumped. i mean the guy does nothing wrong. Annie gets the idea that the guy isn't good for her indirectly from her mother... and what does she do ? She decides to break up and go meet a guy on a roof. and the fiancée accepts like a good little puppet, because if there were any heartbreak from his part, the movie would have went down the tube. the movie is hanging on only a thread of optimism.
Of course, us, the viewers know that Sam isn't a bad guy and that he deserves a decent relationship. Sam is sane, tries a normal way to see if he can have a relationship. I like him. But if you cut out all of his scenes Annie just seems kinda nuts. You can't see her relationship falling apart. She just falls for Sam. And that stupid movie every woman in the movie is crying about... so what ? Because somehow they finally met in a similar manner makes it lovely ? Not really, no.
A movie for romantics? Sure. Just to remember that your girlfriend who seems very much in love with you will dump your carefree, no complicated past, caring, compassionate self for a guy with emotional baggage, with a kid, who she only met. But he has a nicer name than you.
The acting didn't impress me. I actually had hopes for this movie. Shame. It gets a one because if it's a romantic movie it's crap.
The primary members of the support cast are also excellent (David Pierce, Annie's brother; Garber and Wilson as Sam's brother-in-law and sister; Reiner as his colleague/friend; young Gaby Hoffman; and Barbara Garrick as Sam's brief girlfriend).
The story, juxtaposed with the classic Grant/Kerr predecessor, could have provided an excessive gimmick, but here it worked well. And I was grateful for some things I didn't find in this flick. Although I watched the program like everyone else, I found Rob Reiner's character, acting and presence in "All in the Family" to be obnoxious and annoying, ALL THE TIME, and watched the program in spite of his presence. And I have found Rosie O'Donnell's presence to be the epitomé of ANNOYING in every respect, every time I've observed her, previously. But in this film, I enjoyed both of their performances completely. Children in movies can also be an irritating presence, but Malinger and Hoffman were delightful as son Jonah, and his little neighbor/friend. Barbara Garrick, with a supporting role here (as in "The Firm") is an appealing actress, for whom one would wish more prominent roles.
Tom Hanks is one of the foremost actors of our time, but even he can go a smidgen too far in a characterization (I thought he did so in both "Forrest Gump" and "Philadelphia"). But he certainly didn't here. Watch, enjoy, and feel good.
In Baltimore, Annie (Meg Ryan), a newspaper journalist, is engaged to Walter (Bill Pullman) and is looking forward to getting married. But when Annie's mother talks about the 'magic' that she instantly feels when Annie's father holds her hand, Annie cannot comprehend the meaning. One evening, Annie hears Johna on a national radio show, saying his dad is lonely and sad, still cannot forget his late wife and Johna thinks his dad needs a new wife to make him happy. Thousands of women across the country write to Sam, among them is Annie. Her letter in the rubbish bin is sent out by her good friend Becky (Rosie O'Donnell).
So Annie travels all the way to Seattle in hope to meet Sam, but it doesn't work out fine. However, when Johna reads the letter from Annie, he knows she's the right one and he replies on his father's behalf for meeting each other on the roof of the Empire State Building...
This is a refreshing, quite light-hearted story. It's slow but I'm sure many people would like it. It's funny that, when Sam first sees Annie, he somehow feels that he has met her before...rather funny, isn't it? Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan are great on the screen together and the flick is perfect for relaxing. With a delightful soundtrack.
Tom Hanks who stole your heart away as Forrest and who showed true grit in taking on the solo role of Chuck in CAST AWAY is always remembered fondly by his fans for those magical characters he played. Meg Ryan the Venus of the 90s was probably in every romcom that made a mark back then. SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE, YOU'VE GOT MAIL, CITY OF ANGELS & WHEN MAN LOVES a WOMAN is titles that cannot be forgotten if you are indeed a fan of the genre. Ryan and Hanks in one of the very earliest of their performances together scores a near perfect score with SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE.
It is said that there is no greater gift than the gift of love. Indeed it's true. We all have an emotional connection in our lives to someone that is entirely unexplainable. It's a connection on a platonic level unlike the attraction of lust. This value of love has been misread entirely in Hollywood of today and movies with such innocent intentions are quite rare. SIS by director Norah Ephron holds onto the idea of platonic love. It in-fact personifies the mere idea of such platonic connections between two people. Norah Ephron who has a knack for movies of this category certainly takes her work to heart. It is indeed evident primarily with her preference on always casting Meg Ryan. Next it's the very seasonal touch (most movies are set during the holiday season) she adds onto them and then the medium she uses to bring her lovers together. Two individuals who have never seen nor heard of each other falls in love over a radio show and in another instance rivals in business who falls in love in a chat room. With due credit to the writers who conjured the scripts; BRAVO!
Sam Baldwin (Tom Hanks) and his 8 year old son Jonah Baldwin (Ross Malinger) are hit by surprise when their wife/mother Maggie is suddenly passes away. Devastated by the loss of his wife Sam and son Jonah leaves Chicago and moves all the way to Seattle with the hopes of moving on and beginning a new life. 18 months down the line Sam is still mourning the loss of Maggie and is unable to function an inch beyond her memories. Young Jonah who is smart for his age understands his fathers' grief and wishes only to see him happy. On Christmas eve Jonah calls in on a radio talk show and explains to the host his fathers' situation and subsequently Sam ends up on the phone pouring his heart out over the air of his love for Maggie. Sam is heard all over country to those who are tuned in, Including Annie (Meg Ryan) who is driving over to her fiancés parents' home for Christmas Eve dinner. Annie who unconsciously forms a liking towards Sam over the days lose focus on Walter (Bill Pullman); her fiancé and is totally hung up on a stranger she has never met nor seen all her life. Is that even possible? To fall in love with just a voice and a story, never seeing nor knowing who it is?
Title: SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE Directed by: Norah Ephron Starring: Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan, Bill Pullman and Ross Maligner Rated: PG for some language Rating: 7.5/10 105 Minutes
It's because this movie is utterly unfair towards guys. There's two major reasons for this: firstly, Bill Pullman's character is inhuman. Secondly, if the genders of the two main characters were switched (i.e., if Meg Ryan played Tom Hanks' role and vice versa), Tom Hanks (the character played by Ryan) would be perceived as a total jerk. I can't really explain these two things without mentioning spoilers, so if you haven't seen the movie, you should probably skip the rest of this commentary.
As for Pullman's character: yes, if I had a fiancee in the same situation as Meg Ryan and she wanted to dump me for someone more suitable for her, I'd say "ok." But that's not to say I'd be extremely depressed and p***ed off at how much work I put into this relationship just to have "mr. perfect" walk by and lose everything. I would also be at least a little bit disappointed that my fiancee didn't care enough about my own feelings to stay with me. Pullman's character is expecting to have kids with this woman, and he seems perfectly fine--no, downright enthusiastic--with letting her go marry someone else. I don't know any guy who would be nearly as consenting about this whole thing as Pullman's character. Additionaly, this all seems to imply (for me at least) that a heterosexual relationship has nothing to do with the guy's happiness and everything to do with the girl's: that the man is the provider of services, and the woman is the customer who has every right to leave if she's dissatisfied.
How is this the case? Well, imagine switching the genders of the two main characters. Say it was Tom Hanks who was already with a woman he was going to marry, but decided to leave her (or ask her if he could leave her) when he heard this woman (Meg Ryan) on a radio talk show who sounded absolutely perfect for him. Wouldn't Hanks be perceived as a total jerk who dumped his fiancee for someone else? Wouldn't he be seen as an insensitive person who cared more about his own feelings and happiness than his fiancee's? In the actual movie, however, it's Meg Ryan who dumps her fiancee, and since she acts cute and innocent when she does it, she's not perceived as a jerk.
So, basically, that's my chief complaint about this film. Other than that, it's very funny, and I like the acting. Another thing I didn't like about it, though, is that it's the kind of movie where you're made to only care about the two main characters and nobody else.
But ultimately I think that my main complaint about this movie is really a complaint about American dating culture. It was really hard for me to figure out why I didn't like this movie, and I think that this movie really reveals how disadvantaged the stereotype of men is in dating culture. That's not to say that women aren't disadvantaged--the whole feminist movement is the embodiment of this fact--but all I'm trying to say is that men are also disadvantaged in different ways, and in my opinion dating culture needs to change for the equality of both sexes.
Picture this: Meg ryan falls in love with Tom hanks just by listening to his sob story on radio about how much he loved his deceased wife and writes him a love letter. In fact, thousands of women write him a love letter after listening to his sob story (Really, are women that desperate? Which planet is Tom Hanks living on?).
Now, if you somehow convince yourself to believe that it is possible for a girl to fall in love like that, now picture this: The kid reads all the letters including Meg Ryan's and immediately decides that Meg Ryan is destined to be his new mom. Now what is so magical about this letter? We don't know. All we know is that a)Meg Ryan has not written a letter like this to a stranger before. b) She writes something about magic. c) She tells Tom hanks to meet her at Empire State on Valentines Day. c) She mentions her favorite baseball player and hey stranger, I love you only if he is your favorite too. Otherwise, don't bother. Apart from that we just don;t know what was written in the letter that made the child go mad about Meg Ryan. Now, 99/100 times, characters would read such letters on screen to let the audience know its contents. But here, Meg Ryan doesn't read it out loud. The kid doesn't read it out loud. Tom Hanks literally 'blah, blah, blahed' it. Why don't they read it out loud for us? I'll tell you why. Coz' even the writer/director couldn't fathom what a stranger woman could write in a letter that could make Tom's kid going mad about her look justifiable.
Now, although the kid is madly in love with her after reading the letter, Tom Hanks is not impressed at all. Like I said, he literally 'blah, blah, blahed' it. However, his kid practically blackmails him into meeting her at Empire State. And just to make sure that him holding her hand and falling in love with her instantly doesn't look farcical, the director tries to justify Hank's actions by establishing a 'connection' between the two. It involves him checking her out once at the airport (Men will be men! They all check out beautiful girls all the time. Didn't know that amounts to 'connection') and saying hello to her once on the street and BAM!! There is obviously a connection. They are made for eachother.
Now, that's not all. Both Tom and Meg are dating someone at the time. And they are both perfect. But in order to make them look like obvious dumping material, they are reduced to caricatures. Meg's fiance is allergic to everything and sneezes a lot. Obviously, he deserves to be dumped. SO WHAT, if he loves you and downsized her mother's ring for you? Tom's girlfriend laughs like hyena (Although, I felt her laugh wasn't even that bad. I mean it wasn't Janice bad. Friends' fans would know what I'm talking about). But obviously, its enough evidence to dump her, My Lord! The catch here is that Tom Hanks doesn't even feel that way about her. Its the kid who hates her. I wonder what the kid would have done if Meg Ryan too had a weird laugh like that.
All right. Rant over
Jessica: I am telling them you're twelve so you can fly unaccompanied and the stewardess won't carry you around and stuff like that. Jonah Baldwin: Are you crazy! Who'd believe I'm twelve? Jessica: If it's in the computer, they believe anything.
But again, there are other movies with stronger acting (As Good As It Gets), better plot (too many to name), but some weird combo of above average qualities make this movie a 10. So here I am, on a rainy Sunday afternoon, watching it again, 13 years after the movie was made :).
It seems to me that the real story is that of Jonah (Ross Malinger), the boy who lost his mom, who hopes against all hope for a future of more than himself and his dad. Ja, ja, Annie is the confused single making it all the way to Seattle (I've been to Seattle myself looking for love, alas--actually, fortunately--unsuccessfully), but it's Jonah who gets on the plane to New York, providing the final catalyst for the inevitable meeting. And, of course, we're tortured as Annie gets out of the UP elevator just as Sam and Jonah get on the DOWN elevator (yes, hearing all those CHICK FLICK groans). Of course, Jonah's backpack is left behind (collective sigh of relief!)...
... and so Howard, the teddy bear, completes the foursome. And who can resist Jimmy Durante closing the film singing "Make Someone Happy"?
Then there are the naysayers. So sad for those whose own experience of love cannot overpower their hankering for "reality."
It's their talent that helped me overlook some of the film's more noticeable flaws, particularly its treatment of the eventually-to-be-rejected Other Man and Other Woman. Both Hanks' and Ryan's "unsuitable" partners appear to be perfectly nice people, yet the movie casually dismisses them over one little flaw apiece--the woman laughs like a hyena and the man has terrible allergies. Both characters behave very well, considering the way they're treated by others. Hanks' girlfriend in particular desires a medal for putting up with his brat of a son, who is rude to her at every opportunity.
I also had difficulty warming to Hanks' son, although he is certainly preferable to the young girl who keeps expressing everything in initials.
On the bright side, there are many engaging supporting characters, including Rob Reiner as a fellow architect. Also of note are the rich homeowner, the dotty babysitter and Rosie O'Donnell as Ryan's editor and friend. Thankfully, few to none of their scenes involve the annoying children.
Many of the jokes are funny, the best coming when Hanks and a friend ridicule the weepy reaction of many women to "chick flicks" by sobbing as they recount the plot of "The Dirty Dozen."
Combine that with the always-annoying Meg Ryan, who has yet to make a good movie, and you have an extremely overrated film in "Sleepless In Seattle. I was not shocked to find out Nora Ephron was a big contributor to this movie, directing it and helping to write the screenplay. This is the same ultra-liberal/secular writer who followed up this film with garbage like "Mixed Nuts," "Michael" and "You've Got Mail."
The characters in this film, beginning with Ryan's "Annie Reed," are simply too unrealistic. Also, it's not recommended you fall in love with someone just by hearing their voice. It might help to get to know the person, in person, for quite some time before making a commitment. No wonder people in Hollywood over the ages can't get marriage right!
Overall, a truly sappy movie filled with stupid messages and ridiculously overrated. It's junk.
Here are my problems with the film. First of all, Annie decides to dump a perfectly nice man based on a a stranger's telephone call. That is weird and disturbing. Of course, Sam here is a perfectly nice guy, but he could just as easily been the next Jeffery Dahmer. Next is her treatment of Walter who seems devoted to her, in response to his devotion she breaks up with him, on Valentine's Day of all days, to hook up with a guy she's never met or indeed seen. There is the behavior of the son Jonah who is able to get cross-country tickets without his father's permission and have his dad meet up with Annie. It is presumed that Sam and Annie will live happily ever after, but if Annie can dump a longtime beau like Walter over a phone call on a radio show, than who knows how long her relationship with Sam will last.
I can understand why. It's got two likable stars in the lead roles, some quirky supporting characters and a love story as old as the hills.
And yet it remained one of those films I felt I should be liking a lot more than I actually was. It was like I was thinking "it'll get to the bit everyone raves about in a minute" and then the film ended and I didn't get it.
Films are subjective, comedies even more so. For me this film remained just OK, nothing spectacular.
For me it wasn't really very funny and worse, was guilty of over-sentimentality and coincidence. Nothing against Meg Ryan, but she hasn't got the kind of face that would stop you in your tracks the way she does at the airport with Tom Hanks' character's first view of her. Moreover her ditzy character doesn't seem too different (sans hysterical laugh) from the girl his son is so against him hooking up with.
Oh yes, about the son, aged eight going on eighteen, going out with a fellow eight-year-old girl, quoting from Beatles' songs, having adult conversations with his dad and flying to New York on his own. As he would! Of course his toothy grin and mop of hair sweep aside any charges of embarrassing cringeworthiness, or at least that's what the director would have you think.
I found the writing clichéd and gauche (a woman character cries when recounting the story of the "An Affair To Remember", Cary Grant / Deborah Kerr vehicle which informs much of the plot here; like when was the last time you cried explaining a movie plot), the thirty-something characters are cardboard-thin and irritating plus it seemed there had to be some old romantic song playing in the background of almost every scene.
I couldn't get excited by the acting either, there being no chance for Hanks and Ryan to gell as they don't actually get together until their anti-climactic meeting atop the Empire State Building. Bill Paxton gets underused as Ryan's hypochondriac fiancé while Rosie O'Donnell irritates as her overly understanding boss. I have to admit I can't stand these male-female "buddy" relationships as demonstrated here by Hanks and Rob Reiner and Ryan and O'Donnell, they play out so artificially.
Just about the only good for thing me about this film is that I'll probably seek out the earlier film, confident that it will eclipse this very slack and shallow 1980's production which it regrettably inspired.
The idea that two very good-looking adults falling in love according to a plot from an older movie is absurd. What is more ridiculous is that the wisdom emanates from an 8 year old who can recite long sentences without rehearsal! If that's not enough, working people with middle class life styles, seem to be doing nothing but to worry about their love life at work. I am so glad I saw this movie on TV so I would not have to go and ask for my money back.
Annie is engaged to Walter, whose main defect is being dull. This must be a terrible crime in Ephron's book, since Walter is treated with zero respect. One night, Annie listens to Sam's phone call to a radio station. Sam is a young widower, living in Seattle with his son Jonah. Just listening to his story Annie fells for him.
Many criticized this idea of falling in love, which however is not the worst point of the movie. People fall in love for lots of different reasons, so I could buy Annie falling for Sam and trying to meet him. What I do not buy is the artificiality of all the events presented after that.
Annie is a journalist and manages to be sent to Seattle to meet Sam, but somehow manages not to do so, even if she sees him twice (and he sees her too, managing to fell in love at "first sight"). They do not exchange words, even if she could have waited for him and introduced herself in a normal way. But that would have been way too dull for Ephron.
Then there is a letter which makes unbearable Jonah instantly like Annie. Jonah tries to push Sam to meet Annie on top of the Empire State Building on Valentine's Day. This is contrivance at the highest level, built in the script together with many references to the movie "An affair to remember". Since neither Sam nor Annie live in New York, this "romantic" meeting on Valentine's is supposed to prove that "love at first sight" does exist and can even be the basis for a long lasting relationship .. or whatever.
What I got instead, is an overlong, unfunny movie where the two leads meet only at the end, which is certainly not the way I like on screen romances to go.