When Harry Met Sally: Hollywood’s least crappy rom-com

14 February, 2016 — by Leon Barton0

When Harry Met Sally is the best rom-com ever, and closer to This is Spinal Tap then you think. No really.

when harry met sally autumn park walk

Rage Against the Machine bassist Tim Commerford recently apologised for the existence of Limp Bizkit. It seemed heartfelt, “I really do. I feel really bad that we inspired such bullshit.”

As far as I know neither When Harry Met Sally’s director Rob Reiner or writer Norah Ephron (who sadly died in 2012) have made similar apologies for the last 20 years worth of unfunny, godawful, clichéd romantic comedies churned out by the Hollywood machine. But based on the ‘Timmy C principle’, they should.

I mean, is there a more horrific phrase in the English language than, “A new romantic comedy starring Katherine Heigl”? Or, “A new romantic comedy starring Hugh Grant” perhaps? And as for “a new romantic comedy starring Katherine Heigl and Hugh Grant”? Well let’s start slashing the seats in the cinema now.

When Harry Met Sally is to the modern Hollywood rom-com what RATM are to rap-rock. Certainly not the first, but probably the example that encapsulates the genre at its best. Unfortunately, both have also inspired a lot of bullshit.

when harry met sally walk

Rob Reiner directed This is Spinal Tap, my all time favourite movie. Tap (as I shall now refer to it), is not a movie about being in a band, as a lot of people mistakenly believe. Well, it is about that, but it’s about more than that… a lot more. It’s a film about friendship, about long-term relationships, about human interaction. And ultimately a film about love.

Tap and When Harry Met Sally are about the same things. The two protagonists have known each other a long time, they develop a deep friendship, things get too intense and they split. The ending involves them realizing that they can’t really do without each other so they get back together and it’s all smiles. They’re basically the same film.

And of course, most importantly for a comedy, both are very, very funny. There are so many scenes in When Harry met Sally that have stayed with through my entire life, in a similar way to the mighty Tap…

There’s the bit where Sally’s (played with just the right mix of poise and vulnerability by Meg Ryan) latest relationship ends and she calls Harry (Billy Crystal) up for moral support. Upon saying to him, “It’s not the same for men, Charlie Chaplin had babies when he was 73” Harry replies, ‘Yeah, but he was too old to pick them up.”

There’s the bit where they arrange a blind double-date, and Sally’s friend Marie (Carrie Fisher) and Harry’s friend Jess (Bruno Kirby) immediately hit it off with each other rather than their intended dates (Harry and Sally). Crystal’s face is a study in brilliant comedic stillness in this scene as he shoots Sally resigned knowing looks.

Later in the film, Harry’s face the next morning after they finally sleep together is perhaps even more memorable. The contrast between the snuggly, satisfied Sally and Harry’s wide-eyed stare that screams ‘what the fuck have I done?!’ is silent comedy at it’s best.

morning after billy crystal in when harry met sally

Then there’s the brilliant scene on the airplane where Harry says to Sally, ”That’s why I have never taken anyone to the airport at the beginning of a relationship” and when Sally asks “why?” Harry replies, “Because eventually things move on and you don’t take someone to the airport and I never wanted anyone to say to me, How come you never take me to the airport anymore?” This is followed by the best line in the movie…


And who could possibly not be charmed by the interviews peppered throughout the movie, with older couples who have survived multiple decades of marriage…

All of this is just a nudge to remind you that perhaps today, on Valentine’s Day, if you haven’t already seen it, please give Rob Reiner’s other modern comedy classic a go. It’s exactly what me and my fiancee will be doing and you could do a lot worse. xxx

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