MOVIE REVIEW: “When Harry Met Sally…” stars Billy Crystal (Parental Guidance, City Slickers), Meg Ryan (Sleepless in Seattle, You’ve Got Mail), Carrie Fisher (Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, The ‘Burbs), Bruno Kirby (Stuart Little , Good Morning Vietnam), Steven Ford (Starship Troopers, Black Hawk Down), Lisa Jane Persky (The Great Santini, The Cotton Club), and Harley Jane Kozak (Arachnophobia, Parenthood). It is directed by Rob Reiner (Stand by Me, The Princess Bride) and written by Nora Ephron (Sleepless in Seattle, Julie & Julia).
Spanning over the length of twelve years, this story follows Harry (Crystal) and Sally (Ryan), two strangers who become friends and struggle to retain it without a deeper love getting in the way.
Throwing back once more this month, we take a trip to the late 80’s with the sleeper hit, “When Harry Met Sally…” Yes folks, another rom-com review, of a movie produced over thirty years ago. Am I prevelant or what?
In my defense, I have been wanting to see this feature for a while. Over a year ago, I wrote and directed my first romantic comedy short film, to which I drew inspiration from what few movies of the genre I had seen at the time. I don’t watch many rom-coms, people; let’s just get that straight. But recently, I have grown closer to the brand, primarily because they are always a quick, easy watch. And maybe, just maybe, I am a hopeless romantic… however, I prefer to go with the first excuse.
I was surprised to find just how great “When Harry Met Sally…” is. I mean… it is legitimately good. You can recommend people however many rom-coms you want, but you know that most of them are purely recommendable out of escapism tastes. They’re light, easy, and if one makes you laugh even twice, you consider it a stand-out. But… does that really make it good? For me, I can walk up to anyone and confidently recommend this feature because it is in fact a well-written, greatly performed, hilarious romantic comedy. And by the standards of the genre, that is saying a whole lot.
Taking place over the span of twelve or so years, we follow these two characters who have a chance encounter on two separate occasions, only to become friends who are tested because of the presupposed “sexual tension” that any man or woman should have when they grow close. The movie is a study of the question “can a man and woman ever just be friends?” And boy, does Ephron (the screenwriter) dive into it. Her dialogue is sharp, quick, and punchy; it’s right up my alley and genuinely made me laugh, which is hard to do (especially with a rom-com). Trying to capture this friendship over that long of a timeline could prove challenging, but Ephron’s pacing is solid, hitting the proper beats and crafting scenes that not only sport quality dialogue, but visual circumstances as well (why not have Harry talk about his divorce to his friend while they join in a constant wave at a sports stadium?). It has to be one of the best, if not THE best, writing I have seen from the genre thus far.
The actors who embody the roles could not have been better casted. Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan light up the show, creating amazing contrast that also works to their chemistry. From what I researched, Crystal also had a hand in the writing process, injecting jokes where he could; I’m sure he wrote some of the lines I laughed at. The entire story is focused on them, with only a few supporting characters (Fisher and Kirby the more prominent sidekicks), making for an intimate tale that starts and ends with the titular leads. I never grew bored, nor did I wish for more from this. After it all, it’s a conversational piece, built entirely around opinions on relationships and the aforementioned question about men and women. While I’m sure some people could find certain moments to not service the plot, it definitely builds into the character, to which I was drawn more into.
Overall, “When Harry Met Sally…” is a gold standard for the romantic comedy. Not only is it witty and humorous, but it also holds up after all this time, touching on subjects that we still deal with in relationships today. Of course, I do not pride in specific elements of relationships that this feature places great importance on, but c’est la vie. Almost all romance flicks lead to and are surrounded by sex, so it’s to be expected. All in all, if you are someone who is not into this genre but are curious, do check it out. It’s a different breed, and does a fine job of making itself unforgettable. FINAL SCORE: 95%= Juicy Popcorn
Here is the trailer: