Sleepless in Seattle [1993]

Hanging Up You've got to admire a movie that embraces womanhood as so few mainstream movies do, and Hanging Up deserves credit for combining issues of sisterhood and elderly parent care while relying on neuroses to carry its unconventional plot. But you've also got to lament this botched "dramedy" from screenwriting sisters Nora and Delia Ephron (adapting the latter's novel) and director Diane Keaton, who lack a coherent plan for illuminating their trio of female siblings. Despite a sharp focus on Meg Ryan as the middle sister Eve--a capable Los Angeles event planner--the movie never quite seems to know where it's going, and you feel like the best scenes are merely happy accidents. In exploring the foibles of family, Keaton fared better with her earlier film Unstrung Heroes. In addition to directing, Keaton plays the eldest sister Georgia, a celebrity magazine editor, and Lisa Kudrow is kid sister Maddy, a soap-opera actress who's nearly as self-absorbed as Georgia. They leave it to Eve to care for their declining father (Walter Matthau), a retired screenwriter who slips in and out of lucidity and is, at best, a cantankerous curmudgeon whose estranged wife (Cloris Leachman) has long since severed all family ties. This is potent material--at least it could have been--and Ryan admirably struggles to hold the film together. But it's ultimately a losing battle as the movie, so full of cell phones and disconnected people (hence the title), becomes disconnected itself, offering hollow humor and a few memorable moments with characters whose problems are too minimal to worry about. --Jeff Shannon Sleepless in Seattle The director and stars of 1998's You've Got Mail scored a breakthrough hit with this hugely popular romantic comedy from 1993, about a recently engaged woman (Meg Ryan) who hears the sad story of a grieving widower (Tom Hanks) on the radio and believes that they're destined to be together. She's single in New York, he lives in Seattle with a young son, but the cross-country attraction proves irresistible, and pretty soon Meg's on a westbound flight. What happens from there is ... well, you must have been living in a cave to have let this sweet-hearted comedy slip below your pop-cultural radar. There's little complexity or depth to writer-director Nora Ephron's cheesy tale of a romantic fait accompli, and more than a little contrivance to the subplots that threaten to keep Hanks and Ryan from actually meeting. But the purity of star chemistry here is hard to deny, and this may be the first film to indicate the more serious and sympathetic side of Hanks that is revealed in later roles. With its clever jokes about "chick movies" and repeated homage to the classic weeper An Affair to Remember, this may not be everybody's brand of amorous entertainment, but it's got an old-Hollywood charm that appeals to many a movie fan. --Jeff Shannon

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