While better than the last two romance films that I’ve reviewed, Sleepless in Seattle falls into some of the typical romance film traps. While very different than the horror movie tropes, Romance ones can be about as harmful. Here are some of the landmines that this film steps into. Rebound guy/girls ✔ Love at first sight ✔ The bad advice friend ✔ It doesn’t step into other landmines like characters immediately forgetting social etiquette and jumping into bed so I’ll give the film some credit there. As I said, it’s a fairly decent romance film, it’s just that romance is typically not going to get a very high score because the genre ends up limiting itself.
Sam is not in the best of moods because his wife passed away. He’s decided to respect her memory and not move on with his life. Unfortunately, Jonah wants to have a Mom again so he calls a radio station and gets them to give Sam a live interview. Sam tries to decline this, but it’s too late now and he ends up spilling his life story to the rest of the world. One of the people listening was Annie and while she had a steady relationship with Walter to the point where they were very serious, she decides that she wants Sam. The problem is that she needs an excuse to get to New York City to meet him on top of a large building like in her favorite film. Meanwhile, Jonah needs to get Sam up there since he already found a new girlfriend himself. Those radio stations do work quickly don’t they? Can Jonah get the main two characters together or will he respect Sam’s feelings and not put him in another awkward situation?
From the start you can tell that the ending of the film may not be all that satisfactory. I’m an active backer of the friend zone and believe that if a character doesn’t want to move on, Hollywood shouldn’t make him. Sam’s wife died so maybe it isn’t good for him to get a new girlfriend and marry again. Personally, moving on like that just isn’t a very good move if you ask me. Movies try to make it seem normal and make it sound like a good thing that you’re moving on, but it just makes me question the character’s devotion in the first place. If the chosen love of your life dies, I don’t think you should try to find a replacement.
It gets worse when you consider that Jonah pushed him into this by calling that company. The fact that Sam got so many letters is a little alarming since it shows how many desperate people there are out there. The plot gets a little suspect when you realize that one of these letters if from Annie. I mean, I don’t blame Sam for not wanting to go all the way to NYC to meet someone based purely on a letter. That would have been pretty desperate of him as well.
I’ve always been against love at first sight, but is this even more shallow than that? From Annie’s perspective, she has no idea who Sam is or what he looks like. All she has is a radio broadcast to go by and she’s willing to axe her relationship over that and takes a huge gamble with her life. It may be a classic Hollywood ending as everything works out for the best, but you really have to question the whole thing from all sides. I wonder how Annie feels about being the third choice as well. After all, Sam had been dating someone else before he was forced to go to NYC. I guess he’s going to have to awkwardly tell her that he dumped her for someone else that he literally just met. Gee……that’s probably going to be a fun day for her.
Lets not forget about the other guy who was dropped like a sack of potatoes…good ole Walter. He’s a nice guy who just wanted to have a good time. He bought Annie whatever she wanted and his only character flaw was that he is allergic to a lot of things. Beyond that, the film never gives you a reason to root against him. Walter even realizes that Annie is treating him like the rebound guy so he decides to let her go and start his life fresh. It’s great that he was understanding about the whole thing, but it must be rough to suddenly get dumped for a random stranger after being with someone for months. That’s life I guess and when you enter the arena of romance you never know what’s going to happen.
The main cast is relatively small since it’s really about the drama. Sam’s not a great main character since I disconnected with him after he listened to a radio show and immediately got a girl friend. It all happened so fast that you have to wonder how serious any of them were about it. I don’t have much more hopes for this next romance either. Annie is possibly worse since her position was really unreasonable the entire time. I don’t care how charismatic someone sounds over the radio, you don’t make a life altering choice over something like that to just dump someone and get together. Listening to strangers making promises over the internet and asking to meet somewhere is just going to get you in trouble in the real world. Jonah is as annoying as your average kid. He keeps trying to mess with Sam and forcing the guy’s hand by heading over to NYC on his own was very selfish and dangerous. It was the only unrealistic part of the film and Jonah never met any consequences for this. On the contrary, he’s probably pleased with himself for playing the role of matchmaker so efficiently. If I was Sam, I’d probably be a little upset.
All right, this review’s had a pretty negative tone so far so lets talk about the positives. The film has a pretty good soundtrack. The songs are fairly emotional and add some impact to the film. It feels pretty high budget and all of the landscapes really stand out. The writing is pretty solid during the film so you don’t have to worry about the characters getting too crazy. We see some aspects of the film that could have been pretty interesting like Sam’s job, but they don’t get too much screen time to give more of that to the romance. So, the film is fairly reasonable and I’d say that it’s one of the better romance films that I’ve seen.
Overall, Sleepless in Seattle is a film where the premise will throw you for a loop. It’s all about moving on and getting to the next battle, but I’ve always disagreed with that moral. It’s the complete opposite of Madoka Magica Rebellion. Homura never moved on from Madoka’s memory and decided to do something about it. Now, Sam can’t just run into Heaven (If his wife was a Christian) and snatch his wife back like Homura did, but I do think he could have just stayed single and lived a content life until they were reunited. This way he could be ready to have a nice reunion with the wife instead of a very awkward one when he shows up with his new wife and the brief girlfriend comes by to say hello. So, I think the film was barking up the wrong tree here. There was also no time for chemistry or development with the romance since the characters didn’t get to actually meet until the final 3 minutes of the film. (Unless you count a brief hello where they see each other across the street) It’s hard to call that a real romance. It’s very Hollywood and akin to something out of the olden days, but doesn’t work too well in practice. That being said, the film does manage to avoid any real objectionable content since it’s only PG and it’s a relatively mild romance film. If you like romance, then you will enjoy this one. For myself, I couldn’t give it the thumbs up approval in the end because I disagree with the film’s message too strongly. If you want to see a counter argument to this film, then check out Madoka Rebellion to point out why you shouldn’t always move on.