Movie Review: When Harry Met Sally… (1989)

Title: When Harry Met Sally…
Release Date: July 14, 1989
Director: Rob Reiner
Production Company: Castle Rock Entertainment | Nelson Entertainment

When Harry Met Sally… is kind of the uber-romcom, a story so successful that Hollywood spent the next 20 years trying to recapture it, often in movies starring Meg Ryan.  Harry Burns (Billy Crystal) and Sally Albright (Ryan) first meet sharing a car ride to New York City after graduating from University of Chicago in 1977 (and good work by the makeup artists in making Crystal look convincingly like he could’ve graduated at the same time as Ryan when he’s actually 14 years older).  They meet again five years later on a flight.  Despite not getting along well on either occasion, when they meet for a third time in 1987 they form a friendship that gradually leads to romance.

The central premise of this movie – “Can a man and a women just be friends?” – and the gender essentialism (“all women/men think that way!), has always bothered me.  But on this viewing it doesn’t feel as didactic as I remembered.  There’s also the fact that for most of the movie, Harry is really a jerk (what in 80s parlance would be called “a male chauvinist pig.”)  It’s really a credit to Crystal’s charm that both Sally and the audience can grow to like Harry enough to care about this relationship.

The movie also succeeds on just one iconic scene after another enriched by Nora Ephron’s dialogue (not too mention Reiner and Crystal’s additions).  Carrie Fisher and Bruno Kirby are terrific in supporting roles as Sally and Harry’s best friends Marie and Jess.  And there’s the soundtrack of jazz standards with contributions from Harry Connick, Jr.  Really it all adds up to one of the best comedies, best romances, and best movies of all time!

Rating: ****1/2