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Scarecrow on Seattle: SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE

For the past few years, Scarecrow Video has been contributing reviews of movies made in the Pacific Northwest to the Seattle Office of Film + Music's e-newsletter. We're now proud to be able to share these reviews on our site as well.






Sleepless in Seattle (1993)
Nora Ephron's decent but ultimately run-of-the-mill rom com is the most iconic Seattle movie since It Happened at The World's Fair. Tom Hanks is Sam Baldwin, a Chicago architect deep in mourning over the recent death of his wife. He and his eight year old son Jonah (Ross Malinger) seek a fresh start in Seattle, where they take up residency in a houseboat on Lake Union just south of the Aurora Bridge. Eighteen months later, it's Christmas Eve and Jonah calls a nationally syndicated advice show to say his dad needs a new wife. Their emotional story comes over the car radio of Annie Reed (Meg Ryan) a journalist engaged to allergy-ridden sad sack Walter (poor Bill Pullman). She's starting to realize he doesn't generate the butterflies you'd want from your betrothed, and her romance-starved brain becomes fixated on Sam's tale. One night while she and her best friend (Rosie O'Donnell) watch An Affair To Remember (Leo McCarey's 1957 weeper starring Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr), Annie gets hopped up on melodrama and writes Sam to propose they meet on Valentine's Day at the top of the Empire State Building, just like in the film. Jonah intercepts the letter and conspires to make it happen. Forty minutes in to all this we finally get our first real look at Seattle. Sam and his pal Jay (Rob Reiner) walk down First Avenue chatting about Sam's need to get out and meet women. They turn the corner on to Pine, where we get a nice shot of the water behind the Public Market sign as they pause by The Inn at The Market to check if Sam's rear end is hot or not. They lunch at historic Pike Place Market restaurant Lowell's while Jay fills him in on what's new in dating since the Carter administration. Meanwhile, Annie does some pre-Internet stalking via LexisNexis and then gets on a plane to Sea-Tac. Sam and Jonah are conveniently at Gate N7 upon her arrival. Sam's eyes lock on to her and the music lets us know there's magic in the air. Annie keeps Sam and Jonah under surveillance from her car on Westlake Avenue, driving across the Fremont Bridge as they go under it in a small motorboat. They travel to Alki (she was able to follow them through the Locks in a car?) where Annie lurks across the street while father and son frolic on the beach. Several misunderstandings and cross-country flights later, everyone ends up happily ever after in New York City. Ephron's screenplay relies too much on telling-not-showing the idea of "We want love to be like it is in the movies, but that's not possible in real life...OR IS IT?!?" But the Oscar nominated script does have its moments of truth, and Hanks and Ryan capably carry the film. Even if Sleepless in Seattle doesn't sweep everyone off their feet, we can all be grateful for the goodwill it continues to bring us and for keeping airport gift shops well stocked with sleepwear.
--Jen Koogler


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