Jan 2, 2015

Review: When Harry Met Sally... (1989)

Does Nora Ephron like her holidays or what? She's the writer of the script for When Harry Met Sally... where we go through several years of Christmas and New Year's too. In Sleepless in Seattle which she was credited as a writer and the director, we go through Christmas, New Year's and even Valentine's Day. Nothing wrong with holidays, at least not how Ephron uses them anyway. Just interesting how Ephron seems to like Christmas so much if we also include You've Got Mail and Mixed Nuts.

Without a doubt, When Harry Met Sally... has definitely reached quintessential status. so it's definitely about time I see it. I've never even really seen Billy Crystal all that much which I really want to change. I only really know the Academy Awards Billy Crystal as well as the Mike Wazowski of Monsters Inc. Billy Crystal which is kind of sad.

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Genre: comedy, drama, romance
Directed by: Rob Reiner
Produced by: Rob Reiner, Andrew Scheinman, Steve Nicolaides, etc.
Written by: Nora Ephron
Music by: Marc Shaiman, Harry Connick, Jr.
Running time: 96 minutes
Production company: Castle Rock Entertainment, Nelson Entertainment
Distributed by: Columbia Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Palace Pictures, etc.
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: $16,000,000
Box office: $92,823,546 (North America)

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Billy Crystal, Meg Ryan, Carrie Fisher, Bruno Kirby, Steven Ford, Lisa Jane Persky, Michelle Nicastro, Kevin Rooney, Harley Kozak, Franc Luz, Estelle Reiner, Gretchen Palmer

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Synopsis


Harry Burns (Billy Crystal) meets Sally Albright (Meg Ryan) for the first time on a drive to New York City. Harry is dating a good friend of Sally's which is how he is able to get a lift with Sally in the first place. He's his way to New York to begin a career while Sally is on her way to start journalism school. During their trip, the two come to the conclusion that they're nothing alike and say goodbye to one another as though they'll never have to cross paths again.

Review


So you can easily guess that both Harry and Sally will of course meet again during the course of the story. What kind of a movie would that be if they didn't? While it's true that WHMS... isn't all that different from any other romantic comedy, it has some significant bite and intelligence behind it that makes it a very worthwhile watch.

Norah Ephron fills When Harry Met Sally... with all sorts of relationship commentary that truly makes it a standout film of the genre. Before 1989, I don't really think a film ever really addressed the question of friendship between men and women and where sex fits in. Since then, we've been "treated" to all sorts of movies that have done this sort of story to death. None that I've seen come even close to matching what WHMS... does. 

The dialogue makes me think of a mix between Woody Allen and Seinfeld which is a beautiful thing. Besides the intelligent conversations, comedy is neatly worked in and is very effective. Whether it's because of a certain situation or a certain line, Ephron has created some very memorable moments here that Rob Reiner implements perfectly. I think this is definitely a case of Ephron making things easy for her director, but you still can't discount what Reiner brings all the same.

Meg Ryan gives the best performance I've seen out of her so far and her character perfectly contrasts with Billy Crystal's. They play off one another very nicely and they both get their individual moments to shine. Besides some good comedic moments, I was also pretty impressed with their performances during more dramatic scenes. I'm still not convinced that Meg Ryan is much of a crier on camera, but Reiner makes sure that the scene isn't super serious which helps things along.

There actually are some pretty nice dramatic moments as well as some sweet romantic development. By the conclusion, it ends up being a pretty conventional movie which is admitted even by Ephron and Reiner themselves. (Spoilers) It's just not a big surprise that Harry has a " madly running to be with his true love" scene. All the same, I'm glad that he has to fight to convince Sally that he loves her instead of it just being a cakewalk. It ends up being the kind of scene that is hard to dislike. (End Spoilers)

When Harry Met Sally... is a superbly written romantic comedy that benefits from some very strong direction from Rob Reiner. He gets some great performances out of Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal who make this one a movie to remember. I don't think anyone could ever forget Ryan's diner scene where to put things mildly, she wows everyone. It's also rare that you see such thought go into the dialogue of a romantic comedy, but Nora Ephron provides it and she is a big part of why WHMS... is a winner.

Rating


7.5/10