MOTW: "When Harry Met Sally" Review

Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures

MOTW: "When Harry Met Sally" Review

Rating: R (language and sexual dialogue)
Length: 96 minutes
Release date: July 21, 1989
Directed by: Rob Reiner
Genre: Comedy / Drama

"When Harry Met Sally" is a romantic comedy directed by Rob Reiner, who is known for directing a host of successful films throughout the 80s and 90s, including "A Few Good Men," "Sleepless in Seattle," and "The American President." The film was written by the late Nora Ephron, a talented romantic comedy writer who received three Academy Award nominations for writing. Comedic actor and former stand-up comedian Billy Crystal plays Harry, a young man who believes that it is virtually impossible for a man and woman to build a genuine friendship. Actress and producer Meg Ryan plays Sally, a woman who claims to have many male friends and believes it is possible for men and women to have a relationship that's strictly platonic.

In the beginning of the film, the two characters, who both recently graduated from the University of Chicago, drive to New York City together, which is where they plan to start their careers. During the ride, they share their beliefs about male and female friendships and begin to butt heads. The two decide to stop at a diner to eat, and Harry confesses that he finds Sally attractive. Sally is angered by his confession, leaving the two on bad terms for the remainder of the ride. Once they get to New York, the two bitterly part ways.

Years later, Harry and Sally meet again. Both have gained a bit of life experience and are slightly more mature. Harry and Sally try to establish a friendship, and Harry is shocked when he and Sally actually become friends. Harry's best friend Jess is played by the late Bruno Kirby, a versatile actor who starred in multiple blockbuster hits, including "Good Morning Vietnam" and "City Slickers." Sally's best friend is Marie, played by Carrie Fisher, a screenwriter, novelist, and actress who landed a recurring role in the "Star Wars" trilogy. Jess has a hard time believing that Harry and Sally are actually platonic friends. Harry explains to Jess that he likes getting a woman's perspective when it comes to relationships and enjoys talking to her about his dating life. Sally talks to Harry about her dating life as well. An attraction begins to brew between Harry and Sally, but neither act on their feelings. The two fix Jess and Marie up one New Year's Eve, and they hit it off and decide to get married.

As time continues to pass, Harry and Sally maintain their friendship even though they are slowly falling in love. The two have established an intellectual and emotional connection that's undeniable. Sally has a few vulnerable moments with Harry, and Harry is very tender, warm, and loving towards her. He also shows that he's a man who is able and willing to apologize. According to Ephron, the character Harry was based on director Rob Reiner, who she interviewed shortly after his divorce. Reiner and Billy Crystal were close friends in real life, so Crystal had a good understanding of the character. In multiple interviews, Billy Crystal described Harry as being a funny version of the real-life Rob Reiner. Ephron based the character Sally on herself and a group of her friends.

One night at Sally's apartment, the two unexpectedly become intimate, which creates a great deal of tension between them. Their friendship gets rocky, and the two end up fighting. While they are no longer on good terms, Harry misses Sally terribly and continues to try to mend his friendship with her. Eventually, the two finally have the opportunity to confront the complicated yet genuine range of emotions they have for each other. Even though this film is a romantic comedy, it is a movie that both men and women can enjoy. There are also quite a few laugh-out-loud moments in the film.

The most famous scene in the film was shot at Katz's Delicatessen, which is still located on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in New York City. In order to prove the point that women have the ability to fake orgasms, Sally pretended to climax, without holding back, while everyone in the diner watched in amazement. After that infamous scene, the waitress walked over to a patron at a table nearby who clearly stated "I'll have what she's having," which is one of the most famous lines in movie cinema history. Many people are unaware that the woman who uttered that phrase was director Rob Reiner's mother, who passed away in 2008 at the age of 94.

"When Harry Met Sally" is a film with a good balance of romance and humor. The parts of the film that might seem too romantic are perfectly balanced with comedy. The reviews of this film were mostly positive, but there were a few critics that had a hard time accepting wise-cracking and sarcastic funnyman Billy Crystal as the romantic lead. Despite the mild criticism, the film went on to receive nominations for five Golden Globe awards, one Writer's Guild Award, and one Academy Award.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5