It would be quite difficult to pick a Tom Hanks movie that wasn’t a blockbuster success, as he has been in so many iconic films throughout his long-standing career, but there is one that stands out as one of his most iconic features. No, we aren’t discussing Forrest Gump or Big. Although Hanks has been involved in some fantastic films throughout the years, he was once in a romantic comedy that swept the world and is still considered to be one of the best films ever made. That film is none other than the classic, Sleepless in Seattle, and it is currently streaming on HBO Max.
Sleepless in Seattle was released in 1993, a year after the huge success of A League of Their Own, where Tom Hanks played a much different character. This just goes to show how amazing Hanks can be in any role he is given. Anyway, Sleepless in Seattle became a smash hit as Hanks paired with the ever-popular Meg Ryan in a genre-defining romantic comedy. Rotten Tomatoes might not have been the thing to look at back in the early 1990s when it comes to reviews, as the film has a matching 75% critic rating and audience rating on the website. However, it does have the “certified fresh” designation. The film also made $227 million in box office numbers against a budget of $21 million. Those are some huge gains, especially in the early 1990s.
Sleepless in Seattle follows Sam Baldwin (Tom Hanks), who has lost his wife to cancer. So, he and his son Jonah start a new life in Seattle. Jonah convinces his grieving father to call into a radio station to speak about how much he misses his wife, Maggie. Sam is then bombarded with letters from women from all over the country speaking about how touched they were to hear his story. One of those women that are touched by Sam’s story is Annie (Meg Ryan), who writes a letter to Sam, but is then too scared to mail the letter. One of her friends mails it to her, and Jonah reads the letter, thinking that this woman could be “the one.” He then hatches a plan to have Sam meet Annie. Without ruining the entire movie, you can go watch it to see what happens besides what was revealed in this simplistic description of the plot.
Sleepless in Seattle became a massive film, as it achieved massive box office success, was critically lauded, and nominated for three Academy Awards. The three Academy Award nominations were for Best Original Screenplay, Best Score, and Best Original Score. That is huge considering that romantic comedies are never in the conversation for being some of the best movies. Interestingly, the film had gone through several rewrites before it was handed over to Nora Ephron. Ephron was meant to rewrite the script to make it wittier and more humorous, instead of landing more on the side of a romantic drama. Nora immediately bolstered the parts of Sam (Tom Hanks) and Annie (Meg Ryan). Based on her worth ethic and the rewrite, she was then asked to direct the film. This was after the original director, Nick Castle, exited the film after not being pleased with Ephron’s rewrite. Clearly, going with Ephron’s version worked out much better in the end.
Sleepless in Seattle became a hit, as the themes of chance, fate, and true love echoed throughout the film. The idea that a pair of strangers could meet by chance but find out they had been searching for one another for such a long and fall in love, made people believe more in the film. Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan worked wonderfully together, and this film helped to catapult both of their careers even further than they had already been. Hanks would go on to appear in Philadelphia and Forrest Gump, and Meg Ryan would go on to appear in Flesh and Bone and When a Man Loves a Woman.
For those who are Tom Hanks fans, you can watch Sleepless in Seattle on HBO Max right now. Although the film came out in the early 90s, it is still talked about in plenty of circles. Also, this might be on the list of films that current Hanks fans have not yet seen. It is entertaining and heartwarming at the same time. Give it a whirl.