Hollywood sweetheart (of the last two decades of the last century) Meg Ryan, was no doubt one of the Queens of Romantic Comedies of the 1980’s & 90’s, alongside Julia Roberts and Sandra Bullock. AND Ryan definitely came in THE BEST Rom-Com, of the 1980’s decade (and my favourite romantic comedy, from that particular decade, and among my personal favourite Rom-Coms, ever), When Harry Met Sally… (1989).

The Genre known as ‘ROMANTIC COMEDY’

The genre of the Romantic-Comedy, or more popularly known as the ROM-COM; should not be confused with silly notion of bad B-grade films, known as chick-flicks. A Rom-Com, surpasses those narrow minded extreme sexist attitudes of “Dude films/chick flicks/gay films (when used in a derogatory sense)”. Today, this century you don’t really get good romantic comedies. Most chick flicks, which are merely meant for giggly headed teenage girls, tend to ape the genre of Rom-com, but aren’t exactly Romantic comedies. Similarly, silly waste-of-time action packed films that tend to be dude films; aren’t really epic war/superb science fiction/crime/mystery/psychological thriller/horror/sports flicks (all movies have “action” in them, not just dude films with loads of special effects, meaningless violence, and little else). Great Romantic Comedies tend to go beyond gender, and are meant for a broader audience (ironically the broader audiences are limited to a narrow population of more open-minded individuals, with a good understanding and great taste, and true love for the cinematic art form). Films like It Happened One Night (1934), Sabrina (1954), Ariane – Love in the Afternoon (1957), Some Like It Hot (1959), The Apartment (1960), Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961), Irma la Douce (1963), Annie Hall (1977), One Fine Day (1996), My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997), Notting Hill (1999), are more than just chick-flicks. These are some of the great films that come to mind, when I think of Romantic Comedies. These are great Romantic Comedies, that can be enjoyed by anyone with good taste. At the same time, if you looks at the list, you can also sense the decline of the Rom-com genre. As much as I love the three 90’s Rom-com, mentioned above, they are no where as great as their predecessors. I feel the best Rom-coms came in the 50’s and 60’s; and in other various decades there were one off great Rom-Coms. Like for example; in the 1930’s decade, It Happened One Night, is a uniquely excellent Romantic Comedy to have been made; and when in comes to the 70’s & 80’s, decade, When Harry Met Sally… and Annie Hall, happen to be the two great Rom-Coms, to come out. Annie Hall was of course, even more unique, ’cause it was an Art House Romantic Comedy. Notting Hill, my favourite Rom-Com from the 90’s decade, even though nowhere near as great as the Rom-Coms, of the previous decades, happens to be the last great Romantic Comedy, made till date. Today, movies made as Rom-Coms, are merely chick flicks, a poor excuse for the enjoyable Rom-Com. With the exception of Prime (2005), which happens to bit an Art House Romantic Comedy, and comes close to the level of the 90’s Rom-Com. But that too, it’s thanks to the supporting role by brilliantly versatile Meryl Streep, that I enjoyed the movie so much, when I watched it over a decade ago. So basically, a good Romantic Comedy (and just because a movie is based on Chick), does not make it a Chick-Flick (Juno, 2007, is about a smart chick, that doesn’t fall into category of the silly chick-flick; for it’s superb piece of a satirical drama, penned down by Diablo Cody and directed by Jason Reitman).

So Meg Ryan, luckily walked into the world of Cinematic Arts, when Romantic Comedies, still had a high standard. AND she appeared in one of the best Rom-Coms, ever made, When Harry Met Sally…!!!!!! Pure Excellence!!!!!!

Carrie Fisher & Meg Ryan in a scene from When Harry Met Sally… (1989)

When Ryan became Sally…

I wish I could’ve re-watched When Harry Met Sally…, before working on this Blogathon. But unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to watch a single Ryan flick, specifically for this Blogathon. So like in quite a few previous instances, I’ll have to be completely dependent on memory. The character of “Sally” was loosely based on the film’s screenwriter, Nora Ephron. Yet, Ryan makes it her own. Unlike the moody, cynical character of “Harry” (Billy Crystal), Sally happens to be a very optimistic, direct, honest, fun loving, adorably a tad eccentric and cheerful character, who knows what she wants, and isn’t afraid to ask. The scene in the flight (if I remember correctly that’s where it takes place), where Sally orders some food, and specifically mentions how she wants it; metaphorically it reflects on her personality, showing how aware she is of how she exactly wants something done, without causing people trouble (for example, even in my case, when I order a Muffin or something which comes with ice-cream, I ask them to put it on the side, or if that’s too much trouble for them to comprehend, I’d rather have it without ice-cream, ’cause I don’t want my sponge getting soggy, and nor am I that crazy about ice-cream; same when it comes to Paper Dosa, I ask them to give me the potato masala on the side, rather than it stuffed inside; though I like other kinds of Dosa’s, Crêpes or Wraps, with filling, the wafer thin Paper Dosa tends to get soggy with a filling, and looses it’s unique crispiness).

When it came to the fake orgasm scene, it was thanks to Meg Ryan, it took place. The original script had no such scene, just the two discussing how women are good at faking an orgasm, but Ryan came up with idea actually doing a fake orgasm scene. AND she nailed it. Now it is one of the most infamous scenes in film history. Plus, it was filmed in an actual restaurant. The famous line, at the end of the scene, “I’ll have what she’s having”, is quipped by director, Rob Reiner’s, mother.

The best thing about the movie is the close friendship shared by the two lead characters. The movie basically is a study exploring the age old question, whether men and women can be just good friends. The answer is yes, they can. BUT, it also shows, how sex can ruin a good friendship. Which is so true. In any friendship, between the same sex or opposite sex (also depending on ones gender and sexual orientation), if either the two friends have sex with each other, or have sex with their best friend’s partner, sex could ruin a really good friendship. In this case, since it was a friendship between a straight male and straight female, the fact that they had sex with each other, is what ruined the great bond they had. Though, since this is a Romantic Comedy, they realize they are both madly in love with each other, and get back together, in a romantic sense. BUT in real life, this might not necessarily be the case. So the the main lesson actually is, not to sleep with a good friend, or their significant other (again depending on the gender and sexuality of you and your close friend).

Of course, the basis of a good relationship is also a good friendship, understanding and a mutual respect for each other, another fact this movie showcases, especially through the interviews at the end. But at the same time a meaningless sexual moment/one night stand is capable of destroying a truly good friendship.

Ryan & Hanks

Tom Hanks, who turned down the role of “Harry”, in When Harry Met Sally…, no doubt was the best co-star to compliment Meg Ryan’s perky characters in Rom-Coms (even though Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan had brilliant chemistry in When Harry Met Sally…, which too attributed to it being such a Rom-Com masterpiece). Meg Ryan shared a great on-screen chemistry with Tom Hanks, and appeared in three movies together. Ryan & Hanks, is a rare combination, and it would lovely to see them work together, again.

Meg Ryan & Tom Hanks in Joe Versus the Volcano (1990)

The pretty good, but far from great, Joe Versus the Volcano (1990), saw their first pairing together. The best thing about this movie is, it showcases Ryan’s talent, through three very varied characters. This movie is more of a farce, encompassing elements of Romantic and Screwball comedies; but not an all out Rom-Com. Especially as the romantic character comes in much later in the movie, with the third character (who happens to be the smartest and main character of the movie) played by Meg Ryan.

The near-excellent Rom-Com, and first movie of them together that actually is a Romantic Comedy in every sense, Sleepless in Seattle (1993), is their best pairing to date. The most beautiful concept of the film is the fact, that the two don’t truly meet till the very end, and each has fallen in love with other, through a mutual little friend.

The pretty good, again not so great, You’ve Got Mail (1998), re-unites the two, in the internet age. Another proper Romantic Comedy, about two people poles apart and bitter business rivals, who fall for each other.

Although, none of these three films (though Sleepless in Seattle really comes close) are out and out excellent movies, but the pairing Ryan and Hanks, their enjoyable roles, make these movies, fun to sit through. It’s thanks to their great acting ability, and perfect chemistry, that Joe Versus the Volcano and You’ve Got Mail, didn’t end up being bad to just average films.

Other Works & The New Century

Meg Ryan, besides appearing Romantic Comedies; some other Rom-Com’s include, Prelude to a Kiss (1992), French Kiss (1995), Addicted to Love (1997), Kate & Leopold (2001); has proven her acting capabilities through serious roles as well as other comedies.

In the Romantic Comedy, Addicted to Love, she co-stars alongside Matthew Broderick, to seek revenge on their exes who are having an affair. The flick is really enjoyable thanks to Ryan. Similarly Kate & Leopold (2001), a romance through two centuries, co-starring Hugh Jackman, as an 19th Century Duke, who falls (literally) into the 21st Century and falls (metaphorically) in love with a contemporary woman; is fun to sit through thanks to Ryan, as well as the disoriented seeming Jackman. Prelude to a Kiss (1992) and French Kiss, are two Romantic Comedies of hers, that I haven’t seen.

Serious Moonlight (2009)

When it comes to non-Romantic Comedies, she has done some amazingly brilliant roles. Be it, the heart-rending excellence, When a Man Loves a Woman (1994), the near-excellent, D.O.A. (1988) which stars her then husband, Dennis Quaid, Restoration (1995) and Serious Moonlight (2009), to the very good, Courage Under Fire (1996), the pretty good, I.Q. (1994), or the averagely good films like, The Presidio (1988), City of Angels (1998) and Proof of Life (2000), she is a natural, no matter how big or small, the role. Even in her minute role in Top Gun (1986), she makes sure her character is well noticed.

Of course, with the exception of When Harry Met Sally… (which I’ve watched quite a few times), I’ve seen all these movies eons ago, way back in the 9O’s and early noughties. The most recent Meg Ryan movie I saw was, Serious Moonlight, that too was like 8 year ago. Serious Moonlight was again a really enjoyable comedy (though quite underappreciated), mainly thanks to Ryan’s cuckoo performance, as well as her co-stars, Timothy Hutton, Kristen Bell and Justin Long.

Today happens to be, Meg Ryan’s 57th Birthday. Wishing Hollywood’s (80’s/90’s) Sweetheart, a very Happy Birthday. And all the best in her future endeavours.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

This Blog Post, RYAN & ROM-COM, is my contribution to the, THE 3RD ANNUAL MEG RYAN BLOGATHON, hosted by Paul S of Pfeiffer Pfilms and Meg Movies (in celebration of Meg Ryan’s Birthday)!!!!!!

I’ve been very ill, and am going through a lot (both physically and mentally exhausted). BUT, as I promised to take part in this Blogathon, I somehow wanted to get it done today. I started writing in the late afternoon, and didn’t stop, till now, 9pm (2100hrs) in night. Glad to have managed to work on it, even last minute, with everything going on.

Thank you Paul, for letting me take part in this beautiful Blogathon.

Nuwan Sen

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