fate COVID would have it, Jessi and I have been trying to watch several older movies which are considered part of everyone’s upbringing, but somehow missed ours.
Case in point: Last week, we binged all three of the Back to the Future movies, which revealed to me: 1. Just how much I missed out on growing up and 2. Apparently there are three Back to the Future movies.
Last night’s binge, though, came from the romcom category: Sleepless in Seattle.
Before we clicked it on, we had a brief discussion about who was actually in the movie. Meg Ryan? Total agreement. The leading man? I was positive it was Billy Crystal.
“I’m pretty sure it’s Tom Hanks,” Jessi says.
“Nah, you’re thinking of You’ve Got Mail.“
“Alexa, who’s in Sleepless in Seattle?”
And sure enough, Alexa rattles off Tom Hanks’ name. I’ve discovered my error; Billy Crystal — and Meg Ryan’s famous fake orgasm scene — are in fact cultural lore in When Harry Met Sally. But I digress.
Anytime you pop in a so-called classic, you expect to see something that justifies it.
No one wants to click on Interview with the Vampire and get Twilight.
The movie starts with Sam (Tom Hanks) at the funeral for his wife. He’s now a single dad to his son Jonah. After the funeral, they leave Chicago for Seattle. Anyway, 18 months in, Sam is still upset and hasn’t begun to move on. Jonah listens to some cheeseball radio show (think Delilah, but actually, Delilah is awesome), and actually calls in to try and fix his dad. Sam jumps on the line, reluctantly tells his story.
Next thing you know, over 2,000 women write him letters to become his new main squeeze.
Annie (Meg Ryan) is listening in from Baltimore, and has literally just left a family Christmas party where she announced her engagement to this guy Walter (Bill Pullman). What does she do? Over the course of the movie, she basically falls head over heels for Sam — hires a private investigator to learn more about him — and writes him a letter.
Then she literally flies to Seattle to stalk him — while still engaged.
Anyway, nothing comes of it, but fate intervenes, or Jonah does. He’s seen all the fan mail letters from these women, but one has stuck out to him — the letter from Annie. In the letter, which Jonah reads, she says Sam should meet her on Valentine’s Day on top of the Empire State Building.
Jonah begs his dad to go meet Annie. He says no. So, Jonah flees Seattle on his own plane ticket, and Sam is like “oh shit, I’ve gotta go get my son.” So he flies to New York, climbs the Empire State Building, reconnects with his son, and ends up meeting Annie.
They give each other googly eyes. They grab hands, watching each other in a way that tells you sparks are flying or whatever, and they walk to the elevator with Jonah in tote.
And that’s it.
This might be the only romcom where the main characters only share the screen together for all of three minutes, because once they get in the elevator, the movie is over. Yeah, weird!
Anyway, I’ve taken it upon myself to add a final scene to a movie which I think deserved a better one, or at least some better closure.
I get it. Romcoms aren’t designed to give you closure; they’re designed to give you hope. But isn’t hope foolish if it’s blind hope? I would say that it is. Which is why now, for the first time ever, you’ll get to read the premise of the new ending to Sleepless in Seattle, written by yours truly.
*They exit the elevator, now leaving the Empire State Building. Still smitten, Sam and Annie exchange stories and details about their lives. The street is dancing in lights, and they’re drawing close to one another for warmth.
Eventually, they arrive at a diner, the type with the round, spinning stools where you can still get served at the counter. They grab a booth.
Conversation flows. One obvious question that Sam has ties back to an earlier scene in the movie. Annie had flown to Seattle to spy on Sam, and after tracking him down, they made eye contact in the street. She said ‘hi’ and almost got hit by a truck. Then she left without saying another word.
Sam wonders about that. “Was it fate? You standing there that day?” he asks.
“No,” she says. “I actually hired a PI to get your address and the name of your son, and after lying to my fiancee about it, I conjured up a scheme to fly from Baltimore to Seattle so I could come hunt you down and tell you I’d fallen in love with you based on two minutes of audio on a radio show.”
Sam’s body language changes immediately. He’s alarmed. And torn — early 90s Meg Ryan (err, Annie) is pretty hot. He obviously feels attracted to her — but this woman is stalking him and has been stalking him. And if not for aggressive intervention from his 8-year-old son (who should be grounded for scheming to fly to New York without permission), they wouldn’t be here at all.
She senses that her blunt response has caught him off guard. Privately, he thinks that he’s been a fool for indulging his dreams over the last 10 or so minutes with this beautiful-yet-unstable woman. He knows that despite the longing of his loins, however, that this is a dangerous situation to bring his son into.
“Annie, it’s been great to meet you, but I think Jonah and I ought to get going.”
Annie tilts her head, perplexed. Nothing has stopped her from believing this is anything but her true destiny.
“I…I don’t understand,” she stammers. “The eye contact on top of the Empire State Building, the dramatic background music from TriStar Pictures…all of the stalk…I mean romantic gestures I’ve taken…”
Sam pauses, choosing his words carefully.
“I just don’t know that this is the right time for Jonah and I,” attempting to let her down gently.
But to no avail. Annie isn’t a stalker in the violent way, but the danger she brings along with her is just as palpable. Sam feels it. Her eyes seer into him.
“I’m sorry,” Sam manages, grabbing Jonah by the hand, pulling him toward the restaurant exit. He almost forgets to pay. Sam turns back briefly, throws a $20 bill on the counter for their drinks, and turns toward the door.
But Annie has sprung up and blocked the exit to the door. She’s not mad, she’s startled and confused; her eyes are filled with passion and craze.
Finally, he pushes past her, turning on to the open street, as he and Jonah rush to escape on foot. They glimpse behind them to see Annie running at full speed to catch them.
Mercifully, a police officer is just ahead. “Officer, please help! This woman is chasing us and she’s stalked me all across the country — please, do something!”
Suddenly, officers are tackling Annie to the ground. And the music which ended the original version of the movie kicks off as the camera slows, Annie’s eyes filled with confusion and sadness.
All we hear is “When I Fall in Love” by Celine Dion and Clive Griffin.
All turns to black.