A few weeks ago, my girlfriend and I were watching a movie when a trailer for Fathom Events’ presentation of Sleepless in Seattle came on. She smiled and stated how much she loved the movie. I ashamedly admitted that I had never seen it. To be honest, when I was growing up, I didn’t find myself getting attached to romantic comedies that much - or even romantic dramas. I think I had watched some here and there, but I always dismissed them as cheesy, sentimental goo. As I’ve gotten older, though, I’ve come to appreciate a lot of them more if they’re done well. Like other genres, there are some bad ones in the bunch out there, and the rom-com genre sure does have a lot of those. But, every once in a while, one comes along that just makes you feel all warm and cozy inside. That’s exactly what Sleepless in Seattle did for me.
It’s a little bit contrived, but whatever phoniness unfolds onscreen is immediately overlooked as Nora Ephron’s skillful direction and writing (with co-writers Jeff Arch and David S. Ward) makes us believe that love doesn’t necessarily have to be at first sight; it could, actually, be at first listen. Reporter Annie Reed (Meg Ryan) falls for a man she has yet to meet in real life. That man is Chicago architect Sam Baldwin (Tom Hanks), whose wife recently passed and he and his son, Jonah (Ross Malinger), have relocated to Seattle to start a new life. But Sam is restless, and his son knows it. So, one day, Jonah calls into a talk show and gets his dad to go onto a national radio show to explain how much he misses his wife. The story wins the hearts of people, especially Annie. One day, she decides to join in with the countless others in mailing letters to Sam. Her letter has a proposition to have Sam meet with her at the top of the Empire State Building on Valentine’s Day.
There is one problem, though. Annie is already engaged to Walter (Bill Pullman). But she sees more of herself in Sam, despite never having met.
Chemistry has a tendency to work when two people are together. What’s different about Sleepless in Seattle is that it has its two stars on two different coasts. Sam is in Seattle, while Annie is in Baltimore. We get to know them as they are apart from each other. Sam is a nice man, trying to be the best father he can be for his son, Jonah, and also trying to get back into the dating world. While Jonah hates the woman his dad is currently seeing, he feels that Annie is a better match, even though they have not met. Smart kid. Also, Malinger is a scene-stealer here.
Annie claims to love her fiancé, and thinks he’s a wonderful man. But her draw toward Sam is giving her second thoughts. And while the whole "falling for someone you heard on the radio" sounds like a Dr. Phil episode, you are constantly rooting for Annie and Sam to get together throughout the film.
Ephron’s film doesn’t come across as schmaltzy or gimmicky. It makes you care for its characters and interested in this journey to getting to, hopefully, meet each other. The dialogue is wonderfully written, and the performances are top notch. As producer Gary Foster said in the introduction during the Fathom Events screening, it’s a movie you can put on while you’re sick in bed, and you’ll feel all better. I believe it.
There wasn’t too much additional material during the Fathom Events screening. Foster gave a brief introduction and then had a short interview with Ryan about the movie before it started. But the presentation of the movie looked spectacular on the big screen. For those who missed out, Fathom Events is having an encore presentation on Wednesday, December 5, at 4:00p.m. and 7:00p.m. Click here to find a theater near you that will be showing the movie.