Saturday, September 30, 2017

Football Counter-Programming 2017: Week 5

On Thursday night I decided to watch the last hour or so of You've Got Mail. I was likely influenced by recent listens to "The Rewatchables" podcast and so I was in the mood for some previously enjoyed films of recent years.

ANYWAY . . . as I was watching Tom Hanks manipulate and deceive Meg Ryan-and then inexplicably watch Meg Ryan forgive and love the man that ran her out of business and reawoke the pain of her mothers death . . . I got to wondering--which Meg Ryan movie is the best movie?

NOTE that I am leaving aside all of the movies that she made after You've Got Mail. Well, honestly, my question boils down to this: Which  of these Meg Ryan romantic comedies is the best: When Harry Met Sally, Joe Versus the Volcano, Sleepless in Seattle, and You've Got Mail.

And when you ask the question like that, you are really asking two separate questions;

Question 1: Which Meg Ryan/Tom Hanks movie is best?

This means you have to decide between Joe, Sleepless, and Mail. As much as I am a fan of Joe Versus the Volcano, it can't hold itself up against the higher quality efforts of the latter two films. Maybe that makes me a New York-lovin' snob. (Remember that Meg Ryan's character spends her time in Sleepless in Seattle in New York while Hanks is raising his widowed son in the J. Crew earnestness of the Pacific northwest.)

So, I'm left to decide which Ryan/Hanks couple is better. And maybe you can tell from my sentiments a few paragraphs above that I'm very much against the plot and resolution of You've Got Mail?  Seriously, go back up five paragraphs and read that again. THINK about what Tom Hank's Joe Fox character did to Ryan's Kathleen Kelly. He catfished her before there was such a term. He emotionally manipulated her--especially in the last hour, past the point where he KNEW who he was corresponding with . . . and she did not. He purposefully set up scenarios in their casual afternoon meetings--AFTER he put her out of business--to subtlely turn her towards him. It's just NOT OKAY.

So . . . I'm going to say that Sleepless in Seattle is the best Ryan/Hanks film. Who's gonna dispute that? If you don't like it . . . come at me in the comments.

But then--we've got to confront

Question 2: Is Billy Crystal better than Tom Hanks?

Because . . . we've still got to figure out which Meg Ryan romantic comedy is best. And so we've got to decide if Sleepless in Seattle is better than When Harry Met Sally. And if we are going to do that we have to decide if Tom Hanks is better than Billy Crystal.

Maybe you disagree? Because . . . well, as much as I like When Harry Met Sally (and I really, really do), I can't say that Billy Crystal is the same caliber of actor as Tom Hanks. Can anyone make that a credible argument? Tom Hanks has two Academy Awards! Billy Crystal made Mr. Saturday Night. Their acting Venn Diagram doesn't do much intersecting at all.

But . . . leaving that aside--(can you?) --I guess we can concede that When Harry Met Sally is a stronger movie that Sleepless in Seattle. Do we agree on that? The overall cast of WHMS is better than SiS. And the plot of WHMS is stronger than SiS also. The question of whether or not men and women can be platonic friends is a more compelling one than whether or not two people can randomly fall in love because of talk radio and a replay of the plot to An Affair to Remember.

But! Billy Crystal is NOT better than Tom Hanks!

What if Tom Hanks has been cast as Harry. What might that have been like? Would it be a better movie? And what if Billy Crystal had been cast as Sam Baldwin? Would he have made SiS a better movie?

Making a movie is a complex mix of chemicals and egos and writers and timing. And the fact is that Sleepless in Seattle hit the Tom Hanks timing at the right moment. He was the male romantic lead that the nation wanted. And so everyone wants to think that SiS is the better movie because everyone loves Tom Hanks. But you can't let that cloud your judgment of the movies. And you can't let you opinion of the movies sway you into thinking that Billy Crystal is better than Tom Hanks.

So . . . have I confused you enough? Are you now prepared to determine which Meg Ryan romantic comedy is the best one? Are you ready to admit that her romantic comedy career peaked all the way back in 1989 when she played Sally Albright in When Harry Met Sally? Because that IS the answer to that particular question.

And remember . . . until next time--f your alma mater's Right Tackle has a wrong opinion about Billy Crystal, just bench him until next week. You are still in the cupcake portion of the football schedule anyway. He can afford to rethink things until the more important October games hit the schedule.

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