“Sleepless in Seattle” is a classic romantic comedy from 1993 starring Hollywood’s favorite couple: Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks. Set in both Seattle and Baltimore, this film captured the hearts of people all across the country.The film opens with Sam Baldwin (Hanks) and his son Jonah (Ross Malinger) standing at a fresh grave. Sam’s wife passed away, and in order to avoid the pain Sam decides to move from Chicago to Seattle. 15 months later, he is still grieving and Jonah determines to help him move on. He calls in to a radio show on Christmas Eve, and Sam is convinced to pour his heart out for the country to hear. Annie Reed (Ryan), driving to visit the family of Walter (Bill Pullman), her fiancée, hears his story. She becomes enchanted, and with many women from all over the country she decides to write Sam a letter. Her best friend Becky (played by Rosie O’Donnell) mails the letter, which is received by 8-year-old Jonah. In the letter, Annie proposes to meet in New York on Valentine’s Day, very much in the spirit of the classic film “An Affair to Remember”. Jonah likes the way Annie writes and responds as his dad, promising to meet her there. The film follows Sam and Jonah’s relationship and the trials they go through as Sam begins to date again. Across the country, it follows Annie’s doubts about her impending marriage and her desire to meet the man from the radio. Though the ending is rather predictable, as are those of most romantic comedies, the film is enjoyable and well worth watching.
The relationships between characters are what make this film so entertaining. Tom Hanks’ role as Jonah’s father is impeccable. From tucking Jonah’s bear in at night to calming Jonah down after a nightmare, this is a most convincing Father/son duo. The dialogue between the two actors is candid, and even routine tasks such as brushing teeth become a chance for the audience to become more convinced of their relationship. Across the country, Annie and her fiancé, Walter, exemplify the typical comfortable couple. They finish each other’s sentences, know all of the other’s allergies, and live together in complete routine. They appear to be best friends, but not the expected romantic couple that films typically portray as newlyweds. Again, their relationship is made completely believable by the dialogue and the scenes showing their lives as a routine.
A running theme of “Sleepless in Seattle” is that of destiny. There are many spoken references to signs, destinies, and magic. Initially, Annie is very skeptical of her mother’s talk about signs and destiny: “Destiny is something we’ve invented because we can’t stand the fact that everything that happens is accidental.” As the film continues, however, she begins to speak more of magic and signs. When she is listening to Sam speaking on the radio she says “magic” simultaneously with Sam. After returning home from her visit to Seattle, she tells Becky that “All I could say was ‘hello’” and Becky’s response was that it was a sign, due to the exact phrase being used in their favorite movie, “An Affair to Remember”. Talk of signs and destiny is not limited to Annie, however. Sam refers to it a few times, though not as obviously as Annie. Early in the film we see Annie peeling an apple in one strip. When Sam is talking to Jonah, he tells about his wife: “She could peel an apple in one long, curly strip. The whole apple.”
This film is excellent and is completely enjoyable. It is light, funny, and heartwarming. For those who enjoy watching a movie for the laughs and the romance, this is a great choice. It is great to watch with kids, as it has clean humor. If you’re looking for a movie that will keep you guessing about the ending, however, skip this one.