One of the tried and true genres of filmmaking is the always popular romantic comedy. Moviegoers long for a fun night at the theaters, with a romantic storyline to help propel the overall story forward. As far as romcoms go, there are few quite as iconic and beloved as Nora Ephron's Sleepless in Seattle. The 1993 classic was surprisingly self-aware, poking fun at the genre while also capturing our hearts through Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks' cross-country courtship. Sleepless was a massive hit when it first arrived in theaters, and it still managed to stay at the forefront of pop culture. I recently spoke to actress Rosie O'Donnell ahead of Sleepless in Seattle's 25th anniversary release, and she revealed its unique magic decades later.
It was pre-internet. So it's sort of story of catfish nowadays, right? You can't really see it with the innocence of 25 years ago, but that's the beauty of the film. When you watch it, you're almost propelled back to a time where everything seemed a little bit simpler. Even if it took finding your soulmate on a radio show. It's like some old song, but it still works even though it's hokey.
While Sleepless in Seattle seemed plausible during its initial release, it now invokes strong feelings of nostalgia. This is likely because the majority of the film's events and problems could be solved instantly if there were smart phones around. Meg Ryan would be listening to a podcast instead of a call-in radio station, and she could also probably google Tom Hanks' character and find out exactly where he was. And just like that, the magic of Sleepless is gone.
The inception of smart phones and other devices has seemingly put a major road block in the way of a variety of storytelling. Plot points like the ones used in Sleepless in Seattle couldn't function in a modern movie, instead having to be swapped for something like a dating app. Writers of new movies (especially horror flicks) must now find a logical way to write out smart phones, and therefore allow for their characters to be more vulnerable and have moments of surprise.
Although there can't really be a modern version of Sleepless in Seattle, that's part of what makes the Nora Ephron classic so special upon rewatch. They simply don't make them like that anymore. And like Rosie O'Donnell told me, it's able to elicit a sense of tranquility, as we're brought to a simpler time. And for the generations of Sleepless fans out there, there's a new edition available for home purchase now.
The 25th Anniversary Edition of Sleepless in Seattle is available now. In the meantime, check out our 2018 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.