I love Chicago
And I love clever humor
This movie had both
To clearly describe why I gave this movie 4/5, I’m going to mention four separate films.
The Taxi Driver/Men in Black effect
What could Taxi Driver and Men in Black possibly have to do with While You Were Sleeping (WYWS)? Surely you’ve become delusion, David. Well, not quite. Taxi Driver is considered by many to be one of the greatest movies ever put to screen and when I watched it, I completely understood why people believed that. It’s a great movie, technically proficient, strongly plotted, and beautifully scripted. There are almost no flaws in the film.
But I liked Men in Black better, way better, and no one will ever change that. Men in Black is a very good movie regardless of how you or anyone else feels, but I’d be stupid to think it holds a candle to Taxi Driver in the annals of cinematic history.
In the same way, When Harry Met Sally is considered by many to be the best romantic comedy of all time. Thus far, I have to agree. It is clearly the most fully-formed combination of romance and comedy that I’ve experienced during this rom-com journey.
But I liked WYWS better, way better. It’s cheesy, formulaic, and not ground-breaking in any way. But I just enjoyed it so damn much. It know it’s not as good a movie as some others, but it watching it was a good time.
Ludicrous, far-fetched, unrealistic, ridiculous plots are my absolute favorites. When Jake and Elmore Blues have the entire Chicago Police Department chasing them across the city in The Blues Brothers, I lose it. When Clive Owen is having sex with Monica Belluci while shooting at bad guys in Shoot ‘Em Up, I can’t get enough. That’s why I loved this movie.
Lucy (Sandra Bullock) saves her dreamboat train customer, Peter (Pete Gallagher), after he’s mugged, and while he’s in a coma she poses as his fiancee and spends a week with his family while he’s indisposed. It’s a wonderfully stupid plot and I LOVED IT. Bullock’s performance is excellent. She’s funny, sad, lonely, and basically traverses every rom-com trope with such ease that you forget you’re watching something so strange and ultimately formulaic.
But the real winner of this movie is Peter’s family, the Callahans, who are wild and loud and who bring joy to the screen in every scene they appear. We have Jack Callahan (played by Bill Pullman, who played President mother fucking Whitmore in Independence Day), Peter’s brother, who over the course of the film falls for Lucy and eventually marries her. We have Saul (Jack Warden), Peter’s godfather, who is equal parts crazy as he is sweet. And there’s Ox Callahan (the immaculate Peter Boyle), who plays the baldest, loudest, Chicago-est father you could imagine.
This movie is charming as hell.
Peter Gallagher’s face: Can we talk about this for a second? Like, I get it – it’s a distinctive face and I can see why people find it attractive. But I can’t get over how WEIRD it looks. And I don’t even know why it looks weird. Is it the mouth? The eyebrows? The eyes themselves? I don’t know. All I know is I see this guy and I think, “what.”
Second-best scene so far: Nothing will match “I’ll have what she’s having,” but there’s a scene in WYWS that cracked me up in a similar fashion. It’s the first scene where Lucy has dinner with her strange new family, and for about three minutes there is just free-flowing dialogue between the elders and youth about nothing in particular. They debate about food, tall or short actors, and more. It does almost nothing for the plot, except to demonstrate how unique this family is. And I loved it! The banter was fun to listen to and so ridiculous that I couldn’t help but laugh. It provided the best quote of the film, too, one that had no context and was pretty much just thrown in to steal some laughs:
“Argentina has great beef. Beef, and Nazis.”
Again, there is no context for this nugget. Ox just blurts it out in the middle of a stream-of-thought moment, and I burst out laughing. Because as we all know, what is Argentina known for, if not for beef and Nazis? Case closed.
Scripting: I didn’t take extensive notes for this movie, probably because I enjoyed it so much and didn’t want to supplement my interest with tedious scribbling, so I have few actual references to the dialogue. But what I can tell you is that it was beautifully written. There was sarcasm everywhere, and little quips thrown in every few minutes to keep the proceedings fresh. After Gigli, it was a welcome return to form. Compared to that garbage, this was an Oscar-worthy script.
A clip from my notes:
Sappiness rating: 8/10. This might have been the sappiest movie yet, especially when Jack proposes to Lucy, or when Lucy breaks down before declaring her love for Jack in front of his family. These moments were sappy, but fit perfectly into the tone of the movie. Typically an 8/10 would mean I was annoyed with how gooey the movie was, but in this case, it’s a solid score.
I had a lot of fun watching this movie. There’s not much else to say. I couldn’t find any reasons not to enjoy it. If every romantic comedy was like this for the rest of the challenge, I could die happy. I have to watch From Justin to Kelly at some point, though, so my hopes aren’t exactly smashing through the roof.