While flipping the TV stations looking for something of value to watch, rather impossible these days it seems, I came across You’ve Got Mail. And before you ask, yes, there absolutely is value in just about any romantic comedy that includes Meg Ryan. I think it’s completely fair to say few women would keep channel surfing once Meg’s big blue doe-eyes are on the screen, especially if she’s using them to look at Tom Hanks. You just know it’s going to be good. They may have done only three movies together, but when you’ve watched each of them about 1.2 million times it seems like more. Talk about chemistry.
What’s remarkable to me is how Meg has the ability to select movies and portray characters that make me run through an array of emotions in one sitting like an unmedicated Sybil. Sometimes she does this without even saying a single word, just a look. I think she totally gets me, which is why she's my bestie. Why such an actor who can make you cry, laugh, and get angry they way she does, all in one movie, hasn't received an Oscar or some other gold statue is completely beyond me. I think she's completely underrated and I'm going to share why.
So, there I was watching You’ve Got Mail, followed by The Women and I realized while I cried, laughed, and became angry, that her characters are about a woman who either finds her self-worth or exerts a willful independence. Maybe even both. This isn’t the case in ALL of her movies I know, but the ones I watch over and over exemplify a woman who is looking to find her inner-strength outside of what a man can do for her. Let’s review some of my favorites in no particular order, but I’ll start with her three films with Tom Hanks. Because well, I love him, too.
You’ve Got Mail: Kathleen Kelly, who has found comfort in her own bookstore, is suddenly forced to find a new life. It may seem to be simply a career on the surface, but this bookstore is all she’s known and a part of her mother’s legacy. Aside from the many laughs, this movie gets me boohoo-ing at least twice. Once when she turns to an empty dark store and sees an image of her mother twirling her around as a little girl, and then at the end when she’s relieved Tom Hanks is her internet boyfriend. Although she fights to the bitter end for her store, she realizes that she wants to be a writer and bam, self-worth restored.
Sleepless in Seattle: Annie Reed, a reporter for a newspaper, is drawn to Sam after hearing him on the radio lament the death of his wife. We all know that she can’t possibly marry the other guy who’s allergic to everything except her. And what woman wouldn’t fly across the country only to become suddenly verklempt when spoken to by a handsome widower? OMG, the airport scene when he sees her get off the plane! Love that moment. In the end, she’s honest with her fiancé and rushes to the Empire State building to hopefully find Sam. Romantic? Without a doubt. Yet, Annie knows what she wants and goes for it. This movie makes me laugh, it references one of the best movies of all time - An Affair to Remember, and in the end had me shed a tear with the ubiquitous Hollywood ending.
Joe Versus the Volcano: If you haven’t seen this one, you are so missing out. It’s extremely funny, stylishly kitschy, and ingeniously creative. Meg plays three separate characters and although she has her signature style with her expressions and body language, each person she plays is quite different. There’s DeDe, the pasty, plain secretary who can’t handle Joe’s impending death. Next is Angelica, the eccentric Los Angeles socialite (redundant, I know.) and self-described flibbertigibbet who knows her limitations. And finally, Patricia, the independent, no nonsense woman with daddy issues who agrees to take Joe to a remote island in exchange for her father’s yacht. Each female has something to offer, but in the end, it’s Patricia who realizes who she really is. And that is always a good thing.
When Harry Met Sally: I don’t think there’s a woman alive who hasn’t seen this, but if you haven’t, please stop what you’re doing and go buy it. Sally Albright is every woman rolled up in one, almost. She’s is intelligent, independent, funny, and just like Harry says, “she has a great personality.” I totally admire a woman who moves to New York on her own without knowing a soul and somehow makes her dreams come true both in career and love. Even if the latter takes a bit longer than she plans. Trying to point out any particular favorite moment in the movie is nearly impossible, but when Sally schools Harry about dating after he bumps into his ex-wife has to be one of the top ten. And by the way, I hope this movie was an eye-opener to those women who think their low maintenance, but they’re really not. You may not know who you are, but if you’re not sure, you better ask somebody.
The Women: I was torn with this particular one when simply because when it was released original ly in 1939 with Norma Shearer it is unbeatable when it comes to dialogue. If there is anything I love, it’s a sassy woman always armed with a clever comeback. Although the 2008 version follows along with the original’s storyline, it was updated to be more relevant for a 21st century woman. Mary Haines is a woman who has it all, but like lots of wives and mothers, spreads herself too thin and loses almost everything, even herself. Well, a cheating husband is the catalyst for the story, but unlike the original, this Mary has friends there for her along the way. The main drive for Mary is “What do I want?” How many of you out there have asked yourself that question lately?
I know there are more Meg Movies out there that tug at the heart strings, such as When a Man Loves a Woman or Prelude to a Kiss, but the ones I’ve listed are movies I can watch over and over expecting the same results that will always leave me in a "constant state of amazement" (Joe vs. the Volcano). I’ll even admit I absolutely hate one of her movies, but not because of Meg. City of Angels is the absolute worst because I didn’t get what I wanted in the end and it made me angry, really angry.
Love is only allowed to be unfair in real life, never in my Meg Movies.
What about you? Which Meg Movies top your list and why?
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