When Harry Met Sally Reviews
It's a ten-year journey of two people who hate each other, become friends, and inevitably but unintentionally fall in love; the kind of comedy Woody Allen could've made if he weren't so cynically self-obsessed. Ryan and Crystal get past their own professional limitations, stepping into their titular roles with endless likability. Their magnetic radiance helps sell every ever-changing aspect of their relationship.
But the script is the star here. The dialogue sweeps you up, having the bounce of old screwball-fare, but with a more naturalistic touch. Moments like "I'll have what she's having" have become so ubiquitous, we forget how perfect they really are.
Best of all, it manages to present the western stereotypes of men and women, while never defending them as absolute truth. Reiner and writer Nora Ephron use those stereotypes, certainly, but not as exact sciences so much as comedic tools, before upending them wherever possible.
This was at the pinnacle of Reiner's filmmaking streak, having a flawless knack for picking great scripts, and When Harry Met Sally‚¶ is arguably his crowning achievement.
The writing is very sharp and it really explores what it means to be in a relationship and the nature of love.
Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan have perfect chemistry and were both at the top of their game when this movie was released in the summer of 1989. (Spoiler Alert)
It is clear that these two title characters are meant to be together, but it takes them a long time to figure it out. It's actually great to see the awkwardness around their first meeting and how that grows into a good friendship.
The influence of this movie is abundantly clear when you can see how many times the diner scene has been reenacted in commercials, other movies, television shows, and comedy sketches.
Maybe, I'm just a hopeless romantic but this story has always spoken to me. I've seen it dozens of times and I never tire of watching it. If I'm flipping through channels on the television and it is on, I will always stop, drop what I am doing, and watch it. There are very few movies that have that pull on me. I also have it on DVD so I can watch it whenever I choose to. And that's why this is my favourite movie of all time.
Here's a great piece of dialogue about marriage and the possibility of divorce.
Harry: "Right now everything is great, everyone is happy, everyone is in love and that is wonderful. But you gotta know that sooner or later you're gonna be screaming at each other about who's gonna get this dish. This eight dollar dish will cost you a thousand dollars in phone calls to the legal firm of That's Mine, This Is Yours."
Harry: "Please, Jess, Marie. Do me a favor, for your own good, put your name in your books right now before they get mixed up and you won't know whose is whose. ‚~Cause someday, believe it or not, you'll go 15 rounds over who's gonna get this coffee table. This stupid, wagon wheel, Roy Rogers, garage sale COFFEE TABLE."
Jess: "I thought you liked it?"
Harry: "I was being nice!"
How can you not love that? If you haven't seen this film, you're missing out. I highly recommend it and I'm sure, that for me, it will hold the Best Movie Ever title for another twenty years.
I saw it in the theatre in 1989 (way younger than appropriate), and it set the bar. It's insights are now common place, but it was fresh at the time. And although its hipness has aged, it's heart has not. I have heard it derided as a Woody Allen movie without Woody Allen. And that's a bad thing? It's funny, witty and endearing. Like the instantly classic scene where Sally proves a point to Harry over lunch, 'I'll have what she's having.'
When Harry Met Sally redefined (or defined, depending on to whom you talk) the romantic comedy. The dialogue, memorable quotes, flawless acting and directing, as well as the sparkling chemistry between two unlikely actors, When Harry Met Sally is a near-perfect story of two opposites who, over time, grow to realize just how compatible they really are. It's a hopeful friends-to-lovers progression that never seems forced. Rob Reiner adapts Nora Ephron's script and edits it to flawless execution. At no point does the connection seem unnatural. The audience is carried end-to-end and experiences the same maturity through Harry and Sally's relationship, recognizing the imperfections of each character and recognizing elements of each's life in their own lives. When Harry Met Sally set the standard and has been copied poorly by many wanna-bes, but it is the original and worth the time if you have never seen it.
Considered one of the top ten romantic comedies of all time.