Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Sleepless with Sleepless

While studying abroad in Italy, I developed a fondness for many things. Among them, Italian cinema, spaghetti carbonara, and Sleepless in Seattle. The spaghetti carbonara is slightly irrelevant here and in the future, I will definitely discuss Italian cinema at length. But tonight, I am looking to talk about Sleepless in Seattle because, while it has become very comforting to me – during sleepless nights aboard, it was the only movie on my iPod to save me from creepy silence -- the film also irks me to no end. I bought it on-sale off iTunes because, not having seen it for quite some time, I remembered it as a cute, romantic chick flick – and I’m always in the mood for a cute romantic chick flick. So, I bought it thinking that it would be similar to When Harry Met Sally, which I love. Where the logic was, I am not sure, because the only thing the two movies have in common is Meg Ryan. Sleepless in Seattle does not have the instantly endearing quality of When Harry Met Sally. Perhaps it is the lack of Billy Crystal or the Affair to Remember motif in lieu of stimulating dialogue or the fact that Sleepless is one of the many movies in which Meg Ryan plays the exact same character and When Harry Met Sally is not.

But really, none of these reasons are legitimate because (1) in French Kiss, which I quite like, Meg Ryan is Sleepless’s Annie in a French-Kiss costume, (2) the Affair to Remember motif provides for an easy way to connect with female audiences in a we-love-this-movie-too sort of a way and (3) I enjoy plenty of movies without Billy Crystal and Tom Hanks shines as Sleepless’s male lead. The real reason this movie leaves me so perturbed is that I find it hard to sympathize with most of the characters most of the time. As a female viewer, I suppose I am meant to identify with Meg Ryan’s character and find Tom Hanks’ son, Jonah, cute. However, I find it difficult to do either.

Jonah is possibly the most annoying kid ever -- second only to his abbreviating gal pal Jessica -- and I can’t really stand Meg Ryan’s Annie at all. She actually uses her journalist connections to send a PI across the country to spy on Tom Hanks based on what she hears on a radio show. Romantic? Not really. Stalker-ish? Yep! If she had I sassy gay friend, he would have slapped her. Then, Annie lies to her fiance, throws her hands in the air up like so many of Meg Ryan's other characters and goes to Seattle, where she achieves nothing except almost becoming road kill. Nice. As I re-watch the movie, I find myself looking forward to scenes that Annie is not in -- in particular, the tiramisu scene, in which Rob Reiner explains the world of 1990s dating to the widowed Tom Hanks. Apparently the key was tiramisu and imitating Cary Grant. (And I must say, Rob Reiner, I quite agree.)

So, although, this film holds a special place in my heart, it annoys me. And after thinking about it for much too long, I have decided that it irks me because, on top of its other obvious faults, the last scene is the only time that the main characters say more that one word to each other. Indeed, it is only the third scene they share. I understand the concept of magical love at first sight, but please -- this is pushing it. At least in shit flicks like The Lake House, there is some communication between lovebirds, even if it is in the form of letters sent through time and space. At the same time, this is probably why I enjoy When Harry Met Sally so much. That is realistic and romantic, which is difficult to come by.

Here endeth the venting...A more serious topic next time, I promise.

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