Bullock Keeps it in the Family
For the most "While You Were Sleeping" is your stereotypical date movie, it can be boxed with the likes of "Sleepless in Seattle" as it is that sort of 90s romantic fun. But then director Jon Turteltaub adds something extra to the mix and that is to give some depth to all this romantic fun so that it's not just about woman meets man and then falls for his brother but also what that means to someone with no family and is alone. It's a nice touch because whilst you have this crowd pleasing romantic comedy with a decent cast you then have this moment of reflection which makes you think.
For Lucy Eleanor Moderatz (Sandra Bullock - Speed) life consists of fending off the advances of her landlord's son and going to work as a train station ticket office where she secretly has a thing for handsome commuter Peter Callaghan (Peter Gallagher). But when she saves Peter's life things become confusing as whilst he is unconscious in hospital his family are under the impression that Lucy is his fiancee and think she is just wonderful. And Peter's brother Jack (Bill Pullman - Wyatt Earp) certainly thinks she is wonderful as he is falling in love with her as she falls for him. The only trouble is her fake fiancee Peter.
So on face value "While You Were Sleeping" is just another 90s romantic comedy, the perfect sort of light hearted romance needed for a date night. From the opening narration through to the big romantic finale it delivers everything you expect with it coming down on the side of being more fun than romantic. And to be honest it is good fun from Lucy's secret love of Peter through to the case of being mistaken as his fiancee at the hospital it has this witty edge to it. It's not by any means brilliant comedy as much of it is familiar especially when it comes to the amusing characters but it works.
But whilst "While You Were Sleeping" plays out in a nice sort of way delivering humour and romantic gestures befitting a 90s romantic comedy it does have that depth which is almost unexpected. Now I am not saying that this is some deep movie but whilst we get on the surface level this romance and the confusion it is what that means to Lucy which gives it depth. The fact that she is taken into a family who think she is there soon to be daughter-in-law makes her feel good, you can see that this is what Lucy really wants, family having been single and with her parents both deceased. Because of this, because you can really feel how much suddenly having a family means to Lucy it makes us empathise with her. Of course it is seriously sentimental in showing this and totally false but a little bit of romantic fairytale escapism never did anyone any harm.
As for the performances well to be honest like the actual surface storyline is stereotypical so are the performances from Sandra Bullock's likeable Lucy to Bill Pullman's just as likeable Jack. But it works because Lucy and Jack are nice people who you know from the first minute they meet are destined for each other. In many ways it is the supporting performances which end up adding something to "While You Were Sleeping" especially the wonderful Glynis Johns whose quirky old lady is simply so much fun.
What this all boils down to is that "While You Were Sleeping" is very much your stereotypical 90s romantic comedy, the sort which if you enjoyed "Sleepless in Seattle" you will most likely enjoy. It has that sense of familiarity about it and most certainly the pairing of Sandra Bullock and Bill Pullman are likeable. But what makes it that little bit more than being dead middle of the road is that little bit of extra depth to the character of Lucy and how suddenly having a family makes her feel.