Sleepless Emails and Julia Child

By John Winn

In case any of you haven’t been busy watching Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan movie marathons, you’re probably aware that novelist, screenwriter, and super cool aunt extraordinaire Nora Ephron has died.  As my colleague Alex Harris has noted, Ephron’s reach was wide-ranging, from novels, screenplays–to no surprise, film.  Her long, storied career also spanned multiple generations, from Boomers to the very first Milennials *cough cough me cough cough*. A full list of all the movies she’s made and careers she launched would do her no justice, so you’re going to have to settle with my extremely subjective opinions of her work–specifically, Sleepless in Seattle.

  1993 was a very special year for me.  In addition to being the year Sleepless came out, it was also the year I turned 10 years old.  Ages 11 and 12 kind of sucked, but I’ll spare you the soap opera drama for another day.  All you need to know about 1993 is that it is the first year I became aware of VHS–I mean, really, really became aware of it. Like many families around that time, our Friday nights (and Saturdays, and Sundays) revolved around movies.  One or several of us would run out to the local Blockbuster and rent two or three for the weekend, but to be honest they were all mostly a blur–except maybe Terminator 2, and of course Sleepless in Seattle.

In addition to being one of my earliest memories, Sleepless was also the first serious romantic comedy that I ever had the chance to see.  Tom and Meg previously been in Joe Versus the Volcano which my brother Pat liked, but their chemistry onscreen could not be understated. Sleepless in Seattle was a step above that.  The movie touched on the familiar themes of heartbreak and loss that are central to almost all romantic comedies going back to An Affair to Remember ( Which Sleepless is based on), but it had none of the sex and innuendo that lesser movies would entail. It also dealt with the thorny topic of death and being a single parent, which would become Hanks road to Oscar glory in Philadelphia and later, Forrest Gump.

Besides the very adult subject matter, the movie had two of the hottest stars of its day.  Tom Hanks was just starting to show the serious acting chops he displayed briefly in Joe, and Meg was basking in the success of another Nora Ephron film, When Harry Met Sally.  The onscreen chemistry between the two could not be underestimated.  For those of you under 30, imagine if Paul Rudd and Emma Roberts did a bunch of movies together.  I know it’s difficult to picture, but work with me here.

Movie stars aside, what Sleepless in Seattle had going for it was subtlety. It helped that Meg and Tom were much older, but also that Ephron knew how to weave a story about two compelling characters without making them overly quirky or resorting to gimmicks (It also happened to be the only movie I’ve watched where Rose O’Donnell was tolerable, but that’s a topic for another day). Ephron would try to duplicate the same experience with You’ve Got Mail, but for some reason it fell flat.  Julie and Julia rocked, and if anyone says otherwise I’m gonna cut a bitch.

I could go on and on, but my studio executive editor is telling me to shut it down.  In any case, Nora, we wish you Godspeed, and may your Heaven be filled with Nathan’s hot dogs.

  Social Media Coordinator (and managing editor) John Winn is Hennen’s Twitterer in Chief.  In addition to writing for Hennen’s, His work has been featured in A Twist of Noir, Lightning Flash, Racket Magazine, and plenty of other online magazines.  He lives in Greensboro, North Carolina.