I’ve decided to become a movie critic, but not for new movies that are released. I am going to rewatch the movies that I believe have ingrained something valuable in my psyche with fresh eyes and determine whether it is nostalgia that drives my love or whether they are actually imprint worthy. Do you think there is a paying job out there for me to review movies that are decades old?
As a nod to the movies of my formative years, I’m going to rate them on a scale of one to five Jake Ryans.
When Harry Met Sally (1989)
In my memory, this is an adorable love story about two flawed individuals who are friends before they fall in love. I have always believed that the relationship was the star of the movie, not the characters. Having watched the film anew though, I have come to the realization that it is not Meg Ryan, Billy Crystal nor their quirky love story that is the star of this movie, but the soundtrack. Like all characters, the soundtrack has flaws (I cough and say, “Harry Conick” at the same time), but the use of Louis Armstrong and Ellington in smoothing transitions and time passages, the brilliant implementation of Bing Crosby and Ray Charles for seasonal nostalgia, and the robust and lively injections of the writings of Sampson, Goodman, Rodgers, Hammerstein, Berlin and the Gershwin brothers force the viewer to toe tap through a film that is now, unfortunately, going to join the ranks of, ” I used to love that movie!”
Crystal is believable. He is hilarious, smarmy, clever and equal parts mysoginistic ass hole and adorable cur. Completely adorable, he plans fun and interesting outings and, judging from his apartment, is pretty damned good at his job. Ryan is cute, I’ll grant that and, shit, I don’t know, charming, sort of? But she is DUMB. The character lacks a sense of humor, a sense of irony, a sense of adventure, hell, all sense! I think the character was written as adorably neurotic, but she came across as annoyingly nerve grating.
What does it say for the chemistry of two characters if the fake orgasm over a pastrami on rye is hotter than the actual sex scene? Awkward. That’s what. The entire movie is a “how to” for guys to recognize that the girl they are dating is a dud! She’s always ordering salads with the dressing on the side, she’s controlling, she’s frigid, she has boring sexual fantasies, she hates having sex on the kitchen floor, her room is full of penguin stuffed animals, if one of my guy friends was dating this girl, I’d pull him aside and quietly whisper, “run for your life!” This one is a horizontal line on the crazy/hot scale. The lynchpin of it all, the thing that lets you know that this is one of Nora Ephron’s wildest reaches, is that he fights for her in the end, thereby giving a glimmer of hope to all of the undatable women in the world that it is okay to be absolutely psychotic, because some man will fall for you exactly the way you are and celebrate a long life of monotonous, missionary neuroticism. Um, no?
In my gauzy memories of this film, my favorite scene was at the end, when Billy Crystal’s character tells Meg Ryan’s undeserving iridescent coral covered pout, “I love that you get cold when it’s 71 degrees out. I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich. I love that you get a little crinkle above your nose when you’re looking at me like I’m nuts. I love that after I spend the day with you, I can still smell your perfume on my clothes. And I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night. And it’s not because I’m lonely, and it’s not because it’s New Year’s Eve. I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.” But, now that I am a grown up, I realize that I was wrong. A declaration of love like this (written by a woman who will die alone in her apartment and be eaten by her thirteen cats) is dumb. Any man who talks like that to you, ladies, will someday leave you for another man. A man loves the way you cook and the way you (enter any number of disgusting and sexually explicit acts that would get this post flagged and removed from social media). He might TOLERATE all that other stuff, but never love it.
Revised favorite scene–when the characters are laying in their perspective beds, watching the same movie, talking on the phone (maybe it’s the fact that I’m married to a man that’s always away from me, but I love that) and Crystal’s character is explaining the difference between high maintenance and low maintenance women. For the record, I am pretty sure that being high maintenance and charading as low maintenance is an art form. Then, he conjectures that he might be coming down with a twenty four hour tumor. And Ryan’s character doesn’t laugh. Bitch.
I was going to give the movie four Jake Ryans, because I love the music and I try to celebrate every film where Carrie Fisher is hot, but when I logged into iTunes to look at the album, the franchise sold the entirety of the score AS SUNG BY HARRY FRICKIN CONNICK JR!! Listen, I’m sure he’s lovely, but he’s no Louis Armstrong, that’s for sure.