We’re all stuck in the house, right? There’s never been a better time to dig into those retro movies that you’ve always wanted to watch, but never had the time for. Personally, I’m a bit of a retrophile and tend to watch more older flicks than newer ones. On Fangirlish, you can now look forward to a retro review from me each Wednesday in this column. I’ll be highlighting one throwback movie a week, offering a spoiler-free review of the film, any throwback thoughts from my childhood, and where you can watch the movie yourself. Sit back, relax, and enjoy #WayBackWednesday.
Confession: I have been reluctant to watch When Harry Met Sally… for many years. It’s not because it’s not my preferred genre of science fiction. It’s not because I don’t enjoy Billy Crystal, Meg Ryan, or the writing of the late, great Nora Ephron and the direction of Rob Reiner. I have avoided watching When Harry Met Sally… for one line.
“Men and women can’t be friends.”
That line makes me want to flip tables and throw things. As someone who has always had purely platonic male friends that I adore and love dearly as friends and brothers, the line chaffed me. If this is the premise of the movie, I know that I’m just going to be mad by the movie’s end. But, as my preference for holiday-appropriate movies in my #WayBackWednesday would have it, one movie that kept recurring in my searches for a New Year’s Eve film was When Harry Met Sally…. It was also conveniently streaming on HBO MAX, while all my other choices were not available on any of my streaming services. Fine, fine. Okay universe, I’ll watch When Harry Met Sally… Check out the trailer for When Harry Met Sally… and we’ll get started with #WayBackWednesday.
Despite my reluctance to watch When Harry Met Sally… I found myself surprised that I actually enjoyed the film. When Harry Met Sally… is not necessarily about the line, “Men and women can’t be friends.” It’s about how two friends learn that a true and long-lasting relationship needs to be based on more than just sexual attraction.
When Harry Met Sally… illustrates this point well, setting the audience up to receive this message by the film’s end with the interstitial interviews with couples recalling how they first met. Fun fact: according to IMDB, while the couples telling the stories are all actors, the stories they tell are real stories that director Rob Reiner collected for the film.
The things that give this film its staying power are its humor and its cast. Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal have excellent chemistry and foil each other quite well. Crystal delivers humor in every line and with his antics, while Ryan stops him dead in his tracks with her deadpan wit. I really enjoy watching them play off each other.
When Harry Met Sally… has interesting notes and hallmarks of both Rob Reiner and Nora Ephron films. The film has the humor and witty dialogue of a Rob Reiner film (think The Princess Bride) and the philosophical bent on meaningful relationships of a Nora Ephron film, such as You’ve Got Mail. It’s also interesting to note that stylistically, the score is very similar to You’ve Got Mail. I regrettably have not seen enough Nora Ephron films to know if this is a repeated theme in her work, but the musical cues did strike me as quite similar to You’ve Got Mail.
The reason I chose this film for this New Year’s edition of #WayBackWednesday is because of two poignant New Year’s Eve scenes. One is the pivot of the film; the other is its culmination. It’s seasonally appropriate and it offers some interesting perspective on the foundation of meaningful relationships in our lives.
Do you love When Harry Met Sally…? Leave me a comment with your thoughts and let’s talk about this rom-com classic. Until next week, have a safe and happy new year.
When Harry Met Sally… is streaming now on HBO MAX.