Monday, February 21, 2011

When Harry Met Sally (1989)

When Harry Met Sally (1989)
Directed By: Rob Reiner
Starring: Billy Crystal, Meg Ryan, Carrie Fisher

The separation of feminine versus masculine movies has become more and more apparent over the years.  A group of guys can drive to the theatre, watch some TNT-fueled Ass-kicking by watching movies like The A-Team (2010) or The Expendables (2010) and get their testosterone pumpin’.   Or the ladies can have a ladies night out by watching movies like Sex and the City (2008) or the Twilight Saga (2008-?) and scream at the hot boys on the screen.  Given that both cases are huge over-simplifications and I’d never go so far as to label movies as Gender specific, rarely did we have Romance movies that wouldn’t gear towards a specific audience.  Enter the Romantic Comedy genre.  Geared towards no specific audience, what better way to bring in more people than to make them laugh while following a love story.  That is where When Harry Met Sally fits in.  It has its subtle and apparent humor as well as the typical cute romantic story line.  Rob Reiner adds a different blend of directing towards this film with the whole movie progressing forward with intermittent clips of real life couples.  These couples tell their stories about how they met which adds to the overall theme of love in this particular film.  But what separates When Harry Met Sally (1989) from newer Romantic Comedies?  Examples of newer Romantic Comedies are movies like Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008), Knocked Up (2007), etc.  These movies rely on the comedy of the plot to keep the audience entertained and the romance is then understated.  What I enjoy most about When Harry Met Sally is that the movie has a great balance of comedy and romance.


The movie goes through phases in which both Harry Burns (played by Billy Crystal) and Sally Albright (played by Meg Ryan) meet with each other in life.  It starts out with the first time they meet in College, where both are riding together to New York City.  Meg Ryan is driving this old beat up Subaru (classic!)  and waits impatiently for Billy Crystal.  As soon as he’s in the car, the relationship that they share starts to get its foundations.  I found the character of Harry as the funniest because of his modest humor.  When he’s eating the grapes and spitting out the seeds, he spits the first seeds right onto the window, and doesn’t say anything about it.  That is funny to the audience because its something we can relate to.  Its not ridiculous humor, it’s funny for its modesty.  Harry is also a very open person.  He describes his sexuality and his "dark side" very freely with Sally, a person to whom he’s just met.  Now does this describe your average college male?  I’d say probably not.  However, what better way to break the ice then to act like Harry Burns.  His rules for men/women relationships are classic.  Here are the rules:

1.)    Men and Women can’t be friends because the sex part gets in the way.  No man can be friends with a woman that he finds attractive.
2.)    Unless both of them are involved with other people, then they can... This is an amendment to the earlier rule. If the two people are in relationships, the pressure of possible involvement is lifted... That doesn't work either, because what happens then is, the person you're involved with can't understand why you need to be friends with the person you're just friends with. Like it means something is missing from the relationship and why do you have to go outside to get it? And when you say "No, no, no, no, it's not true, nothing is missing from the relationship," the person you're involved with then accuses you of being secretly attracted to the person you're just friends with, which you probably are. I mean, come on, who the hell are we kidding, let's face it. Which brings us back to the earlier rule before the amendment, which is men and women can't be friends.
3.)    There are two kinds of women.  Low Maintenance and High Maintenance.


The second time that he meets Sally is on an airplane, and he appends his rules like they are part of some sort of constitution.  This creates the effect that they continued talking right where they left off in New York.  They still retain their personality, but act more “mature”.  Costume and hair changes represent the advancement of the years, of course.  They both have a significant other in their lives at this point, which leads them away from any type of interest in one another.  It’s only until after both of those love lives leave them that they finally run into each other a third time and become friends.

What happened to Billy Crystal?  I remember watching him throughout the early to mid nineties, watching him host the Oscars for a couple years, and then poof, haven’t seen him in many movies since.  I find that a shame because I always enjoyed watching him act.  I think the last thing I remember him in was Analyze That (2002) or his voice in Monster Inc. (2001).  I mean, are there people out there that exist that didn’t enjoy him acting?  Of course, I’m biased towards him because I enjoy his acting, but maybe we haven't seen him because he decided to retire.  Some actors enjoy acting for their entire lives, while others make a decent buck and a decent flick, and are happy with their lives.  I should say, however, that they are thinking about making another Monsters Inc., and Billy Crystal’s voice works very well for his character.

What happened to Meg Ryan?  Time happened, that’s what.  Some people can take it, others can’t.  I can’t say that she didn’t need surgery.  That is completely her choice.   However, there are some things that you can’t fix.  Age is one of those things.  There are, however, numerous interesting to watch movies out there that suggest the opposite.   Some people actually come out looking years younger after surgery, and what we must realize is that it’s a gamble.  I prefer people to age naturally, but that’s my opinion on the matter.  Otherwise, I think Meg Ryan films ended somewhere after You’ve Got Mail (1998).

The best line of the movie is when Harry realizes that he loves Sally and runs to tell her the following:
“I love that you get cold when it's 71 degrees out. I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich. I love that you get a little crinkle above your nose when you're looking at me like I'm nuts. I love that after I spend the day with you, I can still smell your perfume on my clothes. And I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night. And it's not because I'm lonely, and it's not because it's New Year's Eve. I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”

To end this article, all I have to say is just enjoy watching the movie.  It can be very enjoyable to watch with your significant other or even by yourself.  There is really nothing to notice/pay attention to because it’s a rather simple plot.   Because of this, the article was pretty hard for me to write.  Not personally, but intellectually.  This movie is pretty self-explanatory, I’m sure I could spend maybe 10 minutes and have the entire movie summed up pretty well.  I had to discuss some random aspects, so the article may have jumped around a bit.  So if you’re ever confused while reading this article, ask questions, and I’ll answer them to the best of my abilities.

A Message to Fans:
If you enjoyed this movie, you'll also enjoy You've Got Mail and Sleepless in Seattle.

A Message to Non-Fans:
Could be seen as too romantic for some, I can see that.  You may disagree that it has a good balance of humor and romance, however, even after Harry tells Sally he wants to spend the rest of his life with her, he tells a joke about the New Years song.  If you absolutely hate romance films, then take the easy road and stay away from this film.

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2 comments:

  1. Awesome review!

    I agree that the movie is fairly simple to follow. However, the strong (and hilarious) personalities of all the characters is what really hones the audience in and makes them fall in love with the story.

    If you're a fan of original comedies that have a bit of romance in them without being too sappy, I'd recommend "Big." It's an 80s film starring Tom Hanks - totally worth checking out if you haven't already :)

    Keep 'em coming, Drthn!

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  2. Thanks!

    I especially liked Billy Crystals personality because it just seemed like it was actually his personality and not him acting.

    I have seen Big and it's a classic! Tom Hanks does an awesome job at acting like a kid. Also a unique film from that era. Although it's been so long since I've seen it, that I should watch it again!

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