Guys, other than When Harry Met Sally, I’m not generally much of a romantic comedy person. Not that there’s anything wrong with romcoms! Some of my best friends like romcoms! But, they’re typically not my cup of tea. However, I was stuck at home with a very terrified dog this 4th of July and when you have a shaking, crying ball of cuteness in your lap, I found that you want to watch something safe, fun and where you basically know what’s going to happen in the end. Romcoms are very reassuring this way. So I found Sleepless in Seattle on Netflix and figured I’d enjoy the 1.5 hours or whatever it was before obviously Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan would end up together on the top of the Empire State Building.
Anyway, there’s honestly barely anything worth summarizing about the plot because you probably have already seen this movie or have absorbed its contents via cultural osmosis, but here it goes anyway. Tom Hanks plays Sam, who had a beautiful, perfect wife who loved baseball and their cute kid, Jonah. Unfortunately, she died. Understandably, Sam isn’t taking it that well and assumes he’ll never love anyone that much again.
Meanwhile, Meg Ryan plays Annie, who is engaged to Bill Pullman as Walter (not bad, Meg Ryan!) but for some reason, she has cold feet. She gets even more concerned when her mother describes the magical feelings she had for her father and wonders if Walter is magical enough for her romantic nature.
Spoiler alert: he’s not. In lieu of any actual personality defects, Walter has a bunch of allergies and no doubts about his love for Meg Ryan, so basically he’s boring and lame. However, I found everything that was supposed to turn us off about Walter (his near fatal reaction to any flower or food stimulus, his awkward dancing, etc.) to be absolutely adorable, so I guess I did not identify with the heroine much here. Or at any point in the movie. Especially when she stalks Tom Hanks across the country, spies on him playing with his child and then nearly gets hit by a car because she is so absorbed in her stalking. YES, I AM BEING SERIOUS.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Long story short, Annie hears sad Jonah and sad Sam on the radio, talking about how much they love and miss the departed Mrs. Sam. She immediately forms an attachment… which quickly moves into a full blown unhealthy obsession. But because it’s fate and/or magic, we’re supposed to roll with it.
Annie writes a letter to Sam suggesting that they meet on top of the Empire State building, because it would probably be just as romantic as in that movie where the people actually knew each other. But whatever. This is all relatively normal. She developed a connection to this guy’s story, sent him a letter, fine. BUT THEN she decides to go full crazy. Annie uses her job connections and then when that’s not enough, hires a private detective to spy on Sam and find out everything she can about him and his family. She has the P.I. take pictures of him on a date, she finds out his home address, etc. It’s insane!
I mean, if the gender roles were reversed here it would be red flag city! Even as it was, with obviously non threatening Meg Ryan, I was mildly uncomfortable with her obsessive digging into this dude she has never met or spoken to, even before she flew to Seattle to stalk him. But once flew there and showed up outside his goddamn home, I was like… wha??? This is supposed to be charming? Then! While standing, all stalkerish outside his house, she sees Sam and Jonah leaving on a boat and decides I will follow them around all day and spy on them like a total weirdo. Not okay, lady!
After a full day of stalking, she parks across the street from their house and, as I mentioned before, nearly gets run down by a taxi because she is so absorbed in hungrily watching these total strangers that she is standing in the middle of a damn road. This is frightening behavior, guys!
ANYWAY. She gets flustered (understandably! maybe her brain is trying to come back online!) and decides to leave. She goes back to Walter temporarily while kid related hijinks ensue. Basically, Jonah is so in love with the letter that Annie wrote Sam, he decides to write back and tell her yes, they should meet at the top of the Empire State building, because only an 8 year old or a very delusional adult would agree to this plan of how strangers should meet.
But Jonah, being 8 (and again, on the same wavelength of ideas as full grown Annie) follows in her footsteps and flies across the country to meet a strange adult. Of course, this is more terrifying because he’s a tiny, unaccompanied child. Very soon after he leaves, Sam finds out and obviously, quite frantically, follows Jonah to New York.
At the same time, Annie is having a romantic dinner with Bill Pullman that turns sour when she decides to confess her whole insane I’ve-been-stalking-and-have-maybe-fallen-in-love-with-a-person-I-have-never-spoken-to thing. Because this movie exists in an alternate universe where people are nuts, Walter doesn’t break up with her for being insane, but politely allows her to break up with him. Feeling terrible, Annie tells Walter that she doesn’t deserve him anyway. (TRUEST THING YOU’VE SAID ALL MOVIE, LADY.)
At the exact moment that Walter’s heart is breaking in half, just like Ralph Wiggum’s on that one Simpson’s episode, the side of the Empire State building lights up with a bright red heart. Of course, Annie takes it as a sign directly for her, and not say, something a tourist landmark does every single Valentine’s day, and rushes out to meet her total stranger. I mean, her destiny.
Meanwhile, poor Jonah has been waiting up there for hours, talking to strangers and miraculously not being kidnapped or reported to the police by anyone who works there. An understandably stressed out Sam is tearfully reunited with Jonah and yells at him way less than a normal, panicked parent would yell, but it’s sweet. They leave in a hurry (maybe to get to more yelling) and accidentally forget Jonah’s backpack.
Annie meanwhile is, of course, running late (because of how it would be more dramatic) and is almost not permitted up to the top of the Empire State building! I mean, I guess we have to throw in some kind of stakes before the ending that has been obvious from the beginning. But guess what? Guys, you’re never going to guess: THEY DO LET HER UP THERE. AND THEN SAM AND JONAH ARE UP THERE TOO, TO GET THEIR MISSING BACKPACK.
But seriously? I know this is supposed to be emotional and amazing, but she is up there seriously, going through and like… fondling this strange backpack when Sam sees her, and they share a Very Serious Moment, stare wise. But I swear to god, if I saw some strange woman almost get hit by a car because she was so intently staring me down, across from my home in Seattle, and then I saw THAT SAME WOMAN staring me down while holding my child’s back pack in New York City, my first thought would be “Oh shit, I’m calling the police!” not “Oh, this must be fate!”
You cannot tell me this isn’t a little bit creepy.
But clearly, my monstrous reptile brain is not magical enough for this world. Instead, of course, it IS fate and they touch hands and it’s the magic that Annie has been waiting for and that Sam never thought he would find again, in the whole… year and a half since his wife died. (It’s really not that long of a time, guys!)
But anyway, despite my cynicism, I learned some very valuable lessons from this movie:
1. Stalking works out really, really well if you’re Meg Ryan.
2. You can make ridiculous plans and life choices, as long as they’re based on An Affair to Remember.
3. Forget compatibility, similar life goals or knowing someone’s middle name – the only thing that matters in terms of soulmates is a magic feeling that you feel when your fingers touch. (Which means I probably have to divorce my husband and remarry the next person who gives me a static electricity shock.)
4. If you haven’t dated 1.5 years after your spouse dies that is apparently a red flag that something is wrong, not a totally normal period of grieving.
5. Despite not wearing ONE SINGLE FLATTERING OUTFIT IN THE ENTIRE MOVIE, Meg Ryan is able to snag both Bill Pullman and Tom Hanks, just with the sheer power of her Meg Ryanness.
6. An 8 year old and a 30 year old woman will be on the same page about romance and life choices.
7. In the early 90’s no one knew what tiramisu was, or what a good male butt looked like. What a dark, unenlightened age!
Look, in conclusion, for all my complaining, this was a perfectly fine, enjoyable movie. I guess my biggest problem with it is that it took the romantic end of An Affair to Remember (a movie about two people who, you know, had actually met and had a deep and complicated love story) and then inserted it into a movie of two total strangers. I am all for love and romance. I believe in (to a certain extent) fate and things that unite people beyond their control. But Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan never had a chance to have a connection or a spark (other than a couple of stalky glances) because they never met until the final scene, which makes it have much less of an emotional impact. And honestly overall just really made me want to watch An Affair to Remember.
Which maybe I will do right now! Anyway, happy Monday, all! I hope you’ve enjoyed my complaining and sarcastic life lessons learned from one of the most successful romantic comedies of all time!