Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie's plot.
When Harry Met Sally is one of the best romantic comedies ever made and I can prove it. Not only did it make no. 6 in my own list, but it was on more than half of all of the ones Ive read (and Ive read almost all of them) often at number one. But just what makes it so good?
Apart from containing defining performances by both Billy Crystal (Harry) and Meg Ryan (Sally), excellent supporting roles for Carrie Fisher and Bruno Kirby, assured direction, superb dialogue, the fake orgasm scene that will forever be part of cinema history, a great soundtrack (thankfully not all by Harry Connick, Jr my favourite jazz singer of all time, Louis Armstrong, gets in a couple of songs early in the movie), good cinematography, an good balance of hilarious and sensitive moments, good pacing, and
okay, exactly what else do you want from a romantic comedy? (Some people are sooooooo demanding!)
The film stars out with a young Harry being given a lift to New York by Sally, and an ensuring conversation on the hours-long journey about whether men and women could ever be just friends. Harry concludes in his uniquely patronising way that it is impossible because the man will always want sex with an attractive woman. Sally is unimpressed with this theory, and they part company convinced that theyll never see each other again.
5 Years Later
Well, Im not going to tell you any more about the plot, partly because youve probably seen it anyway, partly as you can probably guess what happens eventually (though not necessarily along the way), and partly because
The story is interspersed with clips of old couples telling the story of how they met etc, and some of these are hilarious. The story doesnt go quite as youd expect, which is a good thing it strays from the formulaic, while somehow creating a large prt of the formula in the process. (I know what I mean even if you dont
) The acting is top notch probably the best performances of both Crystals and Ryans careers and, as with all of the best romantic comedies, the film takes you from hilarity to tragedy and back again seamlessly, barely giving you time to pause for breath before dragging you back again.
Though it only made number 6 in my Top Ten Romantic Comedies list, in some ways it is the definitive romantic comedy every element that makes a good one is here in abundance. But I do feel that its a film that is very much viewed through the eyes of your personal experience, so everyone will get a rather different view of it. Sure its funny in its own right, but I can relate to it so much more since my wife and I went through the process outlined in the film - of being friends that became lovers. I never saw the film before I got married (amazingly!), but my wife did and while she liked it the first time, she absolutely loves it now. My friend (whose romantic attachments past, present, or future are a mystery to me) didnt like it the first time she watched it, but did the second perhaps partly because she knew us? Who can say? But if youve never been in a relationship like that of Harry and Sally, you wont take as much from this film as if you have. I think youll still enjoy it, but some of the subtler moments will pass you by.
Harry Billy Crystal 10/10 I had been only moderately impressed with his performance in Analyse This (which I saw before WHMS), Billy was born to play this part. His fast-talking wise-cracking style is very funny while he portrays the more serious and emotional side of Harry exceptionally well (and thankfully without falling into the trap of chronic over-sentimentalising that Jim Carey is so guilty of
Sally Meg Ryan 10/10 I like Meg anyway, but while her performance in French Kiss was often funny as much for being corny (Oh, maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan!!!!) as being good, in these she is just perfect. Her portrayal of Sallys development from a teenager to a woman is spot on, and her timing and style complements Crystal well. Its also nice to see a romantic comedy where the leading ladys personality is not irritating more than anything else. (i.e. as in every teenage romance ever made!)
Marie Carrie Fisher 8/10 Fishers role doesnt allow her to use her extraordinary talent to the full, but she plays her part very well as Sallys friend who has a thing about married men.
Jess Bruno Kirby 9/10 You made a woman meow?!? Kirby is Crystals friend who sticks with him through thick and thin, and is at first in awe of Harrys prowess with women, and later a helpless bystander as his friend is busy ruining his life by not accepting the obvious.
Director Rob Reiner 9/10 does a fantastic job here, the pacing is absolutely perfect for almost all of the movie. Theres not a lot he could have done better. (Also Co-Producer with Andrew Scheinman.)
Screenplay Nora Ephron 10/10 the dialogue is superb and the story is good, creating clichés for later films but not copying many existing ones. What action there is complements the rest of the film.
Cinematographer Barry Sonnernfield 8/10 theres nothing at all wrong with the cinematography, but nothing really exceptional about it either. Would have probably been more noticeable if the film wasnt so good, but it would have been very noticeable if it had actually been bad in a film this good. (Now theres a tongue-twister for you!).
On the DVD version you also get:
- The original theatrical trailer (quite interesting to see it again after all these years!)
- The Making Of documentary (Not bad, as good as most of this sort of thing.)
- Audio commentary by Rob Reiner (No comment I cant stand audio commentaries generally
- Harry Connick music video It Had To Be You (great song, have heard it sung better, cant stand the site of him so the video is not exactly a bonus to me!)
- Deleted scenes (some were really funny, the rest were terrible
Please bear in mind that Im biased in my view, the so-called Bonus! material on DVDs is simply an unreasonable excuse for charging us more than the video costs. QED.
Well, thats about it. I hope you liked the review, and dont forget to have a look at my Top Ten Romantic Comedies!
Thanks for reading,
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Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: Good Date Movie
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children Age 13 and Older