Matthew Lickona 8 p.m., Dec. 17
Sleepless in Seattle
An outrageous bluff which no thinking man, much less any card-carrying cynic, can let pass unchallenged. The germ of the idea -- an eight-year-old boy in Seattle places a call to a nationwide radio psychologist on behalf of his widowed father, and a newspaperwoman in Baltimore, along with thousands of other women across the country, begins to weave amorous fantasies around the man -- has plenty of possibilities. The thinking man may not feel that a fairy-tale romance, with the fated twosome kept at a distance till the love-at-first-contact finale, would be the most fruitful of these. But if fairy-tale romance must be the way to go, he still may fail to see the wisdom of tipping the hand so immediately and continually in the movie through the visual motif of stars and fireworks and the audio motif of chestnuts such as "Over the Rainbow" and "As Time Goes By" sung by the likes of Ray Charles and Jimmy Durante. It's all so worry-free, so settled, so unspontaneous, so forcibly imposed. The main problem would seem to be that the director and chief writer, Nora Ephron, is a been-around-the-block, wised-up, nobody's-fool sophisticate who never comes nearer to happiness than when sitting around with the gals and being rueful, witty, whiny about how life doesn't live up to the movies, but who has gone ahead anyway and made a movie about how life should, could, can live up to the movies. Accordingly, the scenes that ring truest are the ones in which the gals are sitting around and being rueful, witty, and whiny about how life doesn't live up to the movies. The rest of it has a forced-march quality, together with a watch-the-suckers-fall-in-line quality, slightly at variance with the feigned quality of sweet idealism. Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan, Ross Malinger. 1993.
- Rated PG | 1 hour, 45 minutes