Sunday, December 30, 2012

Stubs - When Harry Met Sally

When Harry Met Sally (1989) Starring: Billy Crystal, Meg Ryan, Carrie Fisher, Bruno Kirby. Directed by Rob Reiner. Screenplay by Nora Ephron.  Produced by Rob Reiner, Andrew Scheinman. Run Time: 96 minutes. U.S. Color. Romantic Comedy

After surviving A Bruce Wills Christmas, the Mayan Apocalypse and Movie Day and with New Year’s Eve approaching like a speeding train, I thought it would be nice to review a film that not only uses the coming holiday as a backdrop, but would also be fun to watch if you’re not going out. When Harry Met Sally fills both bills quite nicely.

The film tells the story of two people who have known each other since 1977. Harry Burns (Billy Crystal) catches a ride from the University of Chicago to New York from Sally Albright (Meg Ryan), a friend of his girlfriend Amanda (Michelle Nicastro). Sally is on her way to journalism school and Harry to start his career. On a journey like this, the two would talk and one of their topics is relationships. Harry doesn’t believe that a man can be friends with a woman because he’ll want to have sex with her at some point. Even if they’re unattractive, Harry says “You pretty much want to nail them, too.” Sally disagrees, believing that a man and a woman can be friends without sex ever entering the picture. By the time they get to New York, they’ve had their fill of each other and part ways.

Five years pass before they meet again. They meet at an airport as they are about to board the same plane. Sally is dating Joe (Steven Ford, son of Pres. Gerald Ford) who happens to be an old friend of Harry’s. Harry is engaged to a woman named Helen, which surprises Sally. Harry suggests that they be friends and has to say that this is an exception to his earlier rule that men and women can’t be friends. But Sally doesn’t buy it and once again they depart concluding they will never be friends.

That is until five more years go by and they once again meet at a bookstore. They go to have coffee and talk. Both of their relationships have ended by then and they decide that they can be friends after all. We see them sharing late-night phone calls, dinners and in general spend a lot of time with each other. One of their topics of discussion is their dating experiences. Harry still has a different idea about sex than Sally. But at a New Year’s Eve party, they find themselves attracted to one another. But instead of acting on it, they try to set the other one up with their best friend. Sally brings Marie (Carrie Fisher) and Harry brings Jesse (Bruno Kirby). But instead of falling for Harry and Sally, Marie and Jesse fall for one another and quickly become engaged and move in together.

One night, Sally calls Harry in tears saying that she’d found out Joe was getting married to his legal secretary. Harry rushes over to her apartment to comfort her. One thing leads to another and the two have sex for the first time. This results in an awkward morning after, which carries on through their relationship. Things boil over at Jesse and Marie’s wedding night dinner. Following their fight, Harry tries to repeatedly make amends, but Sally repeatedly rebuffs his attempts.

When New Year’s Eve rolls around again, Sally feels alone without Harry by her side. Harry is trying to spend the night alone, but he can’t. He rushes to Sally who is just about to leave the party. There, Harry declares his love for Sally, they make up and kiss.

In the final sequence, an older Harry and Sally discuss their wedding.

The film has everything a good Rom Com should. It is funny, romantic without being schmaltzy and co-stars Meg Ryan, who made a career out of starring in romantic comedies for the next decade, including Sleepless in Seattle (1993), French Kiss (1995) and You’ve Got Mail (1998), the latter of which was a second remake of The Shop Around the Corner (1940).

The script, written by the late Nora Ephron is very quotable and memorable. One of the most famous scenes in the film has Sally faking an orgasm in Katz’s Delicatessen, following a discussion the couple has about a man’s ability to tell if a woman climaxes or not. After Sally’s screaming faux orgasm, a woman at the next table, played by Estelle Reiner, the director’s mother, tells a waitress, “I’ll have what she’s having.” That quote is listed as 33rd on AFI’s list of 100 Movie Quotes.

Billy Crystal, who started out as stand-up comic, broke into television on Soap, in 1977, playing Jodie Dallas, one of the first gay characters on television. He later made movies, such as Rabbit Test (1978) directed by Joan Rivers, Running Scared (1986) a cop/buddy/comedy film which paired him with Gregory Hines and Throw Momma From the Train (1987) in which he co-starred with the film’s director, Danny DeVito. Crystal also had small parts in This is Spinal Tap (1984) and The Princess Bride (1987), both films directed by Reiner. Crystal would go on to direct films as well, Mr. Saturday Night (1992), Forget Paris (1995) and 61* (2001) an HBO movie about Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle chasing down Babe Ruth’s single season home run record. Crystal has also made a name for himself hosting the Academy Awards.

The supporting cast is also strong, featuring Carrie Fisher and Bruno Kirby. Fisher, who will forever be Princess Leia of Star Wars IV, V and VI, had also appeared in The Blues Brothers (1980) and Hannah and Her Sisters (1986). The daughter of the great Debbie Reynolds, Fisher would eventually turn to writing as both a script doctor and a screenwriter under her own name.

Kirby, who usually played the male leads’ best friend, played in both comedies City Slickers (1991), Good Morning Vietnam (1987) and This is Spinal Tap (1984), as well as dramas, including The Godfather Part II (1974) and Donnie Brasco (1997). Sadly, he died in 2006 from Leukemia.

While When Harry Met Sally might not prevent you from going out on New Year’s Eve, it is quite a nice way to spend an hour and a half if you decide to stay home. This is a feel-good film that still rings true to this day.

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