Sunday, April 28, 2013

Day One Hundred and Eighteen - Sleepless in Seattle, "Hanks and Ryan are a Charm Explosion... but I was bored."

I won't lie, I love these two as actors... in pretty much any film they're in they exude so much affable charm that it's sometimes hard to watch. One of my guiltiest of guilty pleasures is the cheesy You've Got Mail (a remake of the 1940 Jimmy Stewart picture) where they blindly fall in love over AOL.

Here in Sleepless, though, I found myself annoyed.

For one thing, the premise makes me tired. Architect Sam (Hanks) lost both his wife and the mother of his child far too early to cancer. Not coping well, his son calls a national therapy hotline (where's Doctor Fraiser Crane when we need him) because the boy thinks his dad needs a new wife... and their story goes across the airwaves and piques the interest of east coast writer Annie (Ryan) who is engaged to the perfect man (Bill Pullman) but feels no "magic" with him.

Written and directed by the late Nora Ephron (who also did You've Got Mail), it basically romanticizes a woman who stalks a man she's never met.

I mean, seriously, the some total of their interaction until the climax consists of a letter that Sam rightly dismisses and a shared look between the two across a sometimes busy, sometimes not street near Sam's houseboat. Honestly, I was expecting the soundtrack to start playing "Some Enchanted Evening" even though it was the middle of the afternoon.

I think what annoys me the most is how much it tries to sneak in references to An Affair to Remember. It feels like cheating when Annie is almost run over on the street and they repeat lines to each other. Perhaps the only thing that saved it from that schmaltz was the Dirty Dozen reference where Hanks and Victor Garber start bawling over that film to counterpoint Rita Wilson's (Hank's wife in real life) breakdown over An Affair.

Still, in spite of its weaknesses, Sleepless in Seattle features performances from both Hanks and Ryan that tug full force at the heart strings. There are moments when it's just them and the camera (always separated by distance) and you can just feel the aching loneliness that holds their characters in check.

That initial phone call where Sam is baring his heart and Annie is listening thousands of miles away in tears really gets me.

Switching gears, kudos to Ephron and Pullman for making an annoying character who you know won't get the girl in the end likeable and redeemable. It's ham-fisted and obvious, but I am so sick of romcoms where the other man/woman is a complete tool (as they did in You've Got Mail with Greg Kinnear and Parker Posey). Having that climax dinner where Annie tells her fiance that she can't marry him end amicably is oddly great.

I just wish they hadn't made him an allergy-ridden weakling.


Sleepless in Seattle isn't a great film.

I know it's sacrilege to say such, but it's driven too much by its silly premise and not enough by true character interaction.

I mean, seriously, the sum total of Sam and Annie's experience together consists of a look, a letter, and a meeting at the top of the Empire State Building. There's no relationship here... just "the magic." And that, alone, does not a good movie make for me.

It's cute and can jerk tears at moments, but its charms do not overcome its flaws. I'd say you should watch it at least once, but it shouldn't need more than that.

Until tomorrow, Potatoes~

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