Sleepless in Seattle (1993)
Tom Hanks in Saving Meg Ryan
Destiny is something we've invented because we can't stand the fact that everything that happens is accidental - Annie
Starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan "Sleepless in Seattle" is without a doubt one of the most memorable romantic movies to have been made. It reunites Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in their second movie together, it has a sweet, sentimental storyline and more than tips a nod to classic Hollywood taking elements of "An Affair to Remember" and translating it into a more modern setting. All in all "Sleepless in Seattle" is a crowd pleaser which has the added benefit that it remains enjoyable every time you watch it rather than becoming tired and predictable.
After the death of his wife Sam Baldwin (Tom Hanks - A League of Their Own) doesn't think that finding another woman would be possible, but his 8 year old son Jonah (Ross Malinger) realises that his father needs to find love again to move on and phones a national radio show to share his dad's story. The story is heard by hundreds of women including Annie Reed (Meg Ryan - When Harry Met Sally) who is preparing to marry her fiancé Walter (Bill Pullman - Singles). The story touches Annie and realises that maybe Walter isn't the one for her but in fact Sam is and when her friend sends him a letter on her behalf a new chapter of her life opens before her.
As previously mentioned "Sleepless in Seattle" is very much a modern take on classic Hollywood openly taking several elements from "An Affair to Remember" and adapting them to fit into a modern setting. Yes at times the storyline is unbelievably cliché and often quite repetitive but it doesn't try to be anything more than a heart warming romantic story. It is very much old fashioned in its innocence, with a dream like quality to it which takes you out of the real world but not to the extent that it feels too fantastical. This is where the charm of "Sleepless in Seattle" lies, it delivers that romantic tale which many wish would happen to them and taking them away from all the stress of real life into a warm and happy one.
But what "Sleepless in Seattle" also does it tell a story about destiny and it is a theme which helps make it feel like a magical tale. This is demonstrated through Annie whose character goes through a transformation through out the movie from someone who doesn't believe to someone who suddenly realises where her destiny lies. It's a nice element and helps to draw you into the story as it progresses rather than everything being served up on a plate far too soon.
Adding to the magical mix is Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan a pairing which works remarkably well. Tom Hanks who has a bit of Jimmy Stewart about him does a brilliant job of delivering a toned down performance which although at times wallows in the realms of being cliché is just right for this movie, providing a balance between being corny and being interesting. The same can be said of Meg Ryan whose bubbly, somewhat frenetic persona oozes out of Annie in every scene, giving the movie bursts of energy where needed.
Whilst all this is good and the performances from both Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in the lead roles as well as that of sickly cute Ross Malinger as Jonah makes "Sleepless in Seattle" an enjoyable experience. It does have issues, mainly in the supporting characters which feel slightly cartoon like. For example Bill Pullman as Walter is so pushed to the side lines that his character feels too dispensable and dispatched far too easily when it comes to the crunch for Annie.
Although "Sleepless in Seattle" undoubtedly has some fine moments of humour the emphasis is set firmly on being a classic romance, causing laughs through humorous moments rather than obvious gags. In many ways "Sleepless in Seattle" is more whimsical than hilarious but the balance works well to stop it feeling monotone.
What this boils down to is that all in all "Sleepless in Seattle" is a very enjoyable film which despite it's age is still as pleasant and enjoyable today as it was on it's original release. It delivers an inoffensive fairytale feel good movie with enough about it to make it stick in your mind. So successful was the formula of adapting a classic movie with the pairing of Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan that they appeared together again in Nora Ephron's update of "The Shop Around the Corner", "You've Got Mail".
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