Thursday, October 24, 2013

When Harry Met Sally...

I am not someone who usually jumps up and down for joy over romantic comedies and a fair number of people feel the same way.  The reasoning behind this I think has to do with the overall structure of the romantic comedy.  The audience usually knows exactly how the movie is going to end: the two leads are going to end up living happily ever after together.  Most romantic comedies know about this and do one of two things to circumvent the problem: 1) They ignore it and proceed to make a predictable, boring film OR 2) They recognize that the audience knows the ending, so they write new and interesting beginning and middle, so by the time the end is reached.  

This is exactly what is found in the 1989 romantic comedy, When Harry Met Sally (which is one of few rom-coms I can get behind).  This film tells the story of Harry Burns (Billy Crystal) and Sally Albright (Meg Ryan), who meet in 1977, at the end of college when they are thrown together as an unlikely carpool from Chicago to New York.  They immediately find themselves at odds, as they really can't agree about anything.  Right off the bat, they get into an argument about why men and women can't be friends.  In which, Harry claims that, "What I'm saying is - and this is not a come-on in any way, shape or form - is that men and women can't be friends because the sex part always gets in the way."  This interaction ends with them separating in New York.  They meet again five years later in an air port, where they then decide to become friends.  I wouldn't dream of spoiling this any further, but the story does end well for Harry and Sally, who manage to bring out the absolute best in one another (and isn't that what love is all about?).  

When director Rob Reiner sat down with writer Nora Ephron, Reiner wanted to create a romantic comedy based on his hilariously miserable love life.  Ephron liked the idea and Reiner elaborated that it would be good to write about two people who decide they want to be friends, but don't end up that way.  Reiner really tapped into something that I think each and every one of us can relate to, men and women.  We all have wanted someone romantically, who only saw us as a friend first (and vice versa). Ephron then went and wrote one of the funniest scripts I have ever had the pleasure to see turned into a film.  The only thing that may be as key as Reiner and Ephron, is the acting done by Crystal and Ryan. These two actors are comedic veterans and their strength really shows in this film.  They help bring to light how messy friendships and relationships really are and how the line between them sometimes can be blurred.  It also shows us how love can be right in front of us, where we least expect it.  

Overall this romantic comedy doesn't just show what "true love" is all about (which we see a lot of in Hollywood), but it goes after what "real love" is all about.  This breath of fresh air makes When Harry Met Sally the perfect movie to sit down and watch with that special someone. 

I will leave you with the most famous scene from the film (which is hilarious, even out of context):

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