Tom Hanks Project – “Sleepless in Seattle” Review

8 Apr

sleepless_in_seattleYou know those movies that seem so classic, whose endings you can reference so easily, that you think you know front to back…and then you turn it on and realize you remember hardly any of it*? That was our experience with “Sleepless in Seattle.” Sort of like dusting off a fossil until the whole picture starts to really emerge for you, such was the experience of watching this sweet film. The best of Meg & Tom**? Not quite. The best movie featuring Meg & Tom***? Bingo. It was like magic.

*We literally only remembered the final scene on top of the Empire State Building and enjoyed the rest like it was our first time watching.

**Sam and Annie could be a better couple than Joe Fox and Kathleen Kelly, but we don’t see them together until the very end, so hard to know.

***I guess we won’t know for sure until we rank both, but I found myself loving “Sleepless” more then Mail as we watched. Joe is a distant third.

Sleepless-in-Seattle_6973_2For these Hanks pieces that are so well-known and well-loved, we’ve decided we’re going to try to be a little more concise with the plot, because you’ve probably seen these films, and if you haven’t, you are required to stop reading and go watch them right this minute please and thank you. This film featured a wonderful cameo by our hero from the last Hanks production, Rosie O’ Donnell, playing Meg Ryan’s best friend. Ryan, for her part, is a woman named Annie, engaged to be married to a really nice guy named Walter* who, ultimately, is just too perfect for her. There’s no spark, no excitement — it’s just perfect. Then, across the country, we have Hanks, playing a recently widowed man named Sam** with an adorable, precocious young son named Jonah who calls in to a radio station one lonely night to tell one of those late-night talk DJs*** about his poor dad who doesn’t sleep and isn’t dating and mostly seems pretty miserable. A large population of women are somehow tuned into this program (even though it’s Christmas) and Annie is one of them.

*Another cameo from the last movie, with Bill Pullman making back to back Hanks movie appearances.

**Seeing a story with a widowed architect in search of his next love made me love this movie and hate the “How I Met Your Mother?” finale that much more. Haaaaave you met Sam?

***More of a phone-in help show like Frasier. It is Seattle, after all. 

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Since she’s a writer she makes up a fib of sorts about having to cover the story for her publication, flies out to Seattle where Sam is, and they have a brief exchange while she’s standing in the middle of the road*…and then she flies back home to New York. (Or is she from Baltimore? I never fully understood that part.) Anyway, Rosie O’ Donnell mailed a letter Annie had written to Sam that she tried to then throw away out of embarrassment, and this causes Jonah to set a plan with her to meet on the top of the Empire State Building on Valentine’s Day. That same day Annie breaks off her engagement with Walter (seriously, poor Walter) and goes to the top and…I’ll end the spoilers there, because it’s the most famous scene of the movie so you probably already know.

*I’m not a big “love at first sight” person, but sometimes there really is an undeniable spark when you first lay eyes on someone. It’s strong when Sam first sees Annie. I know I felt it the moment I met Caitlin.

Laugh out LoudZack: 69  Caitlin: 62 I definitely giggled up a storm at this film. The funniest parts to me are the interactions between Sam and his son — and can we just mention, this film proves without a shadow of a doubt that Tom plays the father role so, so well. It’s freaking adorable and heartwarming and this is probably the movie that made me want to adopt him as my uncle. Agreed that this is Tom at his best as a father. I’m still surprised he has so few roles that show what an incredible dad he can be. Lots of laughs come from the best friends as well. Rosie and Rob Reiner are perfect foils to Meg and Tommy. 

Comedy: Zack: 8.5  Caitlin: 7.5 As far as RomComs are concerned, I’d say this one leans more heavily on the “rom” than “com,” but I think that benefits the film. There are some heavy topics here — we open on a goddamn funeral, for chrissakes! But we’ve got brilliant scenes like Meg Ryan hiding in the closet with the telephone and a radio, or Rita Wilson breaking down while describing “An Affair to Remember” only to have Hanks and his buddy (her on-screen husband) make total fun of her. It makes it heartwarming, and I think that’s the perfect balance. Definitely heavy at times, but the laughs are consistent throughout. Not much funnier than Tom thinking Tiramisu is a sex move he’ll have to learn when re-entering the dating world.

Cry: Zack: 1  Caitlin: 0 I think because I’ve seen the ending so many times, it didn’t get me this time, but you can definitely feel Sam’s concern as he’s trying to track down runaway Jonah in freakin’ New York City. I can’t even imagine. It definitely tugs on the ol’ heartstrings, and if this section was called “Swoon” I’d rate it a 10 all the way. It wasn’t the ending for me. Well, sure it was on the Empire State Building, but it wasn’t the love story that got to me. It was Tom’s relief at finding Jonah on top of the Empire State Building and telling him how if he lost him he’d have nothing. A couple tears squirted out when he asked if he’d screwed anything up. Asking a loved one if you’re good enough is a guaranteed tear jerker for me. We’ll get to that in “Saving Private Ryan” soon.

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Romantic Interest: Zack: 9.1  Caitlin: 9.5 It is sensational to me that a movie wherein the two leads and primary love interests only interact twice in the whole film can be as romantic as this, but there it is. If we went back and counted up the words that Sam and Annie say to each other directly in the whole film, I bet we’d come up with less than 15. And yet, what more do you really need than, “Shall we?” SWOON! The half point deduction here is only because I do feel a little bad for Walter, who really is a very nice gentleman. Maybe he should call up Victoria. Ha! Walter and Victoria. I don’t know which “Baxter” I feel worse for, but they still are so wrong for each other. It is impressive how much you just know it’s going to work out for these two with such limited interaction, but you know it will. 

Hanks: Zack: 9.4  Caitlin: 9.2 Just a brilliant display for Hanks here. It is subtle — he’s a nice, but imperfect guy. He’s super loving, misses his wife so dearly, loves his son so much even though they have their fights, and tries to get back out on the dating scene as best he can. He’s a good friend and a good guy, and you just root for him all the way through. 100% believable. For me, this is tied with his stellar “A League of Their Own” performance — different role, but nailed it just as well. Tom has really found his groove. It’s almost like he’s about to win back to back Academy Awards for his next two roles. Oh, wait. He totally is. Tom plays this one perfectly. It’s a nuanced role. He’s lovable, but still working through his issues. He’s a great dad, but has urges he needs to get out as well. I rank it slightly below Jimmy Dugan only because it’s not as quotable or memorable for me, but I have nothing negative to say about it.

Movie: Zack: 9.2  Caitlin: 9.1 This, along with “You’ve Got Mail,” will always and forevermore be a go-to when I’m having a sick day. It’s the sweetest little piece of film, featuring stories about fate, family, healing and hope. It’s not one of those, we’re the only two people who were ever meant to be together shlockfests. It’s more real than that. It’s about how, there are connections that just feel like a bit of magic, and when you have that, it’s going to be OK. Lovely movie. We’ll definitely be watching this one a lot, as it ranks high on the re-watchability scale. I may have us rank all the movies that way if Caitlin’s game. I want to watch this one again right away. Worth a re-visit if you haven’t seen it in a while. 

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One Response to “Tom Hanks Project – “Sleepless in Seattle” Review”

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  1. Introduction to The Tom Hanks Project | rockloveaustin - May 1, 2014

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