Sunday, December 1, 2013

My Favorite Era: When Harry Met Sally (1989)

Romantic comedies are probably the toughest comedies to pull off.  First off, you need to have two leads that are likable but plausibly distant so it doesn't come off as too predictable when they end up together at the end... Even though anyone with half a brain goes into these things knowing that will be the end result.  You also need to make sure that their likability can overcome the inevitable cliche of the third act argument that leads to the final getting together.

When Harry Met Sally is probably the romantic comedy that should have ended the genre because nothing would ever be as good.  Rob Reiner (back when he made good movies) directs this wonderful tale of two friends who eventually fall in love over an extended period.

Harry (Billy Crystal) and Sally (Meg Ryan) meet in 1977 and don't exactly get along and over the next twelve years they run into each other a few times, each time growing a little more fond of each other.  Both characters are quite likable and funny and the smartest thing the film does is to make the relationship come about in a protracted, organic fashion.

The other smart thing the film does is to make itself more of a commentary on relationships than a standard relationship film.  Harry has some very funny ideas about men and women and Sally, naturally disagrees (because goddammit we need a movie longer than fifteen minutes) and the ensuing scenes with them charmingly hilarious.

Billy Crystal is at his best here, not letting himself get bogged down with the sappy stuff he sometimes drifts towards in some of his other films.  He's at his best when playing a smartassed, slightly jerky guy with a good heart.

Meg Ryan is equally likable here, delivering a funny, cute performance and, of course, getting the film;s biggest laugh with the fake orgasm scene.  It's just a landmark in modern comedy.  I really can;t do it justice.

Rob Reiner used to be one hell of a great comedy director with films such as this one, This is Spinal Tap and The Princess Bride.  He'd have one good movie after this with A Few Good Men.  After that, ugh.

That aside, When Harry Met Sally is one of the best comedies of the 80's and a genuine classic.

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About Me

I've been a huge fan of action, horror and comedy for as long as I can remember.