I may be one of the few people in history that feels Harry and Sally would have been happier as friends, maybe friends with benefits, but still…just friends. As much as I enjoy this 1989 movie I’ve never been convinced they’ll work together, in the long run.
This film set the standard in many ways for romcoms. Hollywood legend has it that Harry was based on Rob Reiner returning to dating after his divorce. Billy Crystal added the whole other layer of whiny neurotic banter that is funny, but can get annoying. He fed on his friend, Rob Reiner’s experiences with dating, divorce, etc. for inspiration.
The decade or so span of this movie plays a lot with how lonely and pathetic men are and how desperate and clingy women are, it’s all very stereotyped, but still seems to work. It also put a lot of stuff into pop culture like high-maintenance women and men and having a transitional person between relationships, not sayin’ that’s a good thing. The days of the week underpants discussion is still classic, as is Sally‘s food ordering style.
Of course, it contains the funniest scenes ever and you can’t help but smile watching Meg Ryan simulate completion then casually return to her deli food. Another customer (played by Rob Reiner‘s mother, Estelle Reiner) then places her order with one of the best punchlines ever: “I’ll have what she’s having”. This scene apparently isn’t nearly as funny for men as it is for women. Go figure.
The cast is superb, including:
Billy Crystal (Soap, City Slickers, SNL, Monsters Inc., Academy Awards host),
Meg Ryan (You’ve Got Mail, Joe Versus the Volcano, IQ, Sleepless in Seattle, Addicted To Love, Hanging Up, Top Gun),
Carrie Fisher (Star Wars, Family Guy, Sex and the City, Amazon Women on the Moon, Man With One Red Shoe – an amazing writer and so rip-roaringly funny she will leave you in pain),
Bruno Kirby (The Godfather Part II, City Slickers, This Is Spinal Tap, Good Morning Vietnam),
Steven Ford, Lisa Jane Persky, Michelle Nicastro, Kevin Rooney, Harley Kozak, Franc Luz, Estelle Reiner.
Directed by Rob Reiner and written by Nora Ephron.
So the age-old question remains, can men and women ever just be friends? I say definitely yes.