I couldn’t sleep last night, so I did what I usually do (no shame): flipped through the Romance section Amazon Streaming. I came across Sleepless in Seattle, which my fuzzy memory told me I found charming when I watched it ten, fifteen years ago. We had a winner!
And then. And THEN.
What is even happening in this movie? I will tell you: stalking. Straight-up, creepy, crazy-eyed stalking. What is the excuse? MAGIC.
Do you guys remember this movie? (Spoilers.)
As it opens, Tom Hanks’s wife has just died. He isn’t taking it well, so he moves himself and his adorable, precocious son out to Seattle in the hope of starting a new life. About a year and a half later, Tom Hanks is still not doing well, and his son, Jonah, starts to get worried about him. So the kid does what any self-respecting American has learned to do: puts it all out there on the national airwaves. He calls up a radio therapist, who promptly guilts Tom Hanks into talking about his beloved, dead wife. So far, so good. Jonah is a little reprehensible, and oddly articulate for an 8-year-old, but whatever.
Thousands of women hear Tom Hanks’s siren song and are touched by it, prompting them to write him letters, all of them presumably offering to be Jonah’s new mommy. One of these people is Meg Ryan, who is just as Meg Ryan-ly and adorable as you remember her. She’s also just gotten engaged to Bill Pullman. Let’s not forget that little detail, ok? She is engaged. Early on, the movie tells us that something isn’t right with that match – when Meg Ryan’s mother and father met, they knew right away that they were meant to be because of MAGIC, and Meg Ryan hasn’t felt this with Bill Pullman.
Yet she remains engaged the entire movie. While stalking Tom Hanks and his son.
Meg Ryan uses her job as a journalist to invade Tom Hanks’s privacy and track him down, even hiring a private investigator to take clandestine photos of him. Next, she defrauds the newspaper she works for into paying for a trip out to Seattle, where she goes to Tom Hanks’s house, then watches him and his son playing on the beach while hiding around the corner of a building. That really happens. Charming?
So then, Meg Ryan has suggested in her letter that she would like to meet Tom Hanks and Jonah on top of the Empire State Building on Valentine’s Day. Jonah, who has read the letter and fallen in love with Meg Ryan because he knows she is his real mommy to be (because, presumably, of MAGIC), gets his 8-year-old travel agent girlfriend to book him on a secret trip to New York to meet her.
Will Meg Ryan be there to meet this earnest, preternaturally able-to-plan little boy?
It’s cool, Meg Ryan will be there. She’s in New York on a romantic weekend with her fiancée, Bill Pullman. Did I mention she has a fiancée?
Poor Bill Pullman. In New York he’s all, “I notice you’ve been distracted lately, but let’s go shopping for our wedding registry anyway.” And Meg Ryan spends the entire shopping montage talking about how yeah, she had her doubts – lots and lots of doubts about how maybe he kind of sucked and there was no MAGIC – but not to worry, Bill Pullman. She’s totally over that now.
Until, at their romantic dinner, she can see the Empire State Building from the window, and decides to come clean. That’s when we discover that Bill Pullman has a lick of sense. Because after Meg Ryan tells him that she has been emotionally cheating him and also stalking a stranger and his little boy, Bill Pullman is like, “Yeah . . . ok we don’t have to be engaged anymore, that’s cool!” Run, Bill Pullman! You are doing the right thing!
Then Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks and Jonah meet on the top of the Empire State Building, and there is MAGIC.
Good luck, Tom Hanks and Jonah. Hide the pet rabbit.