It’s hard to say what makes the difference between a good romantic comedy and a bad one. The believability of the situation has little to do with it; I love a ridiculous high-concept, and While You Were Sleeping definitely has one. It doesn’t really take creativity–after all, a rom-com always has to be kind of the same story. I think the two things that are most necessary are a) chemistry between the two leads and b) a lead character who wants something besides love. I do not want to watch a character desperately fling her/himself at potential romantic victims for an hour and a half. That’s what my Facebook newsfeed is for. What I need from a romantic comedy is a yearning for something; a family, a baby, a job, a passion, something. While You Were Sleeping definitely has that.
It has a lot more, too. Like Bill Pullman. Let’s get to it!
Anyone who’s ever taken a creative writing course knows that adage, “Show, Don’t Tell.” Well, this movie shows us, repeatedly, just how lonely Sandra Bullock is. She lives alone. She’s working on Christmas in the token booth for the Chicago train station. She has a cat. She talks to her cat. No friends are ever mentioned. Oh, and both of her parents are dead. Such a lonely girl, our Sandy. The one ray of hairy sunshine in her life is Peter Gallagher’s Eyebrows.
She sees him everyday as he goes to work, but they never talk. UNTIL! Peter Gallagher’s Eyebrows get pushed onto the tracks by some hoodlums who then run away and are never heard from again. Sandra Bullock immediately springs into action and jumps onto the track.
All the while, a train is speeding towards them while deceptively lighthearted music plays and Sandra Bullock says things like, “Please wake up! There’s a train coming toward us! It’s going very fast!” Like, duh, Sandra Bullock, and also move. Finally she rolls both herself and Peter Gallagher’s Eyebrows to safety, and that’s where her trouble actually begins.
She goes to visit Peter Gallagher’s Eyebrows in the hospital, and through a mix up that could be easily avoided, people start thinking she’s the fiancee. Although she could correct them at any time, she doesn’t, because the 1st rule of Romantic Comedy Club is Never Tell The Truth (Even When It Would Be Very Simple). She ingratiates herself with his family, and no one suspects a thing. Until Peter Gallagher’s Eyebrows’ brother Bill Pullman bursts onto the scene, lookin’ like a million bucks in his reversible denim/khaki jacket and his all flannel, all the time shirt collection.
He wears the most unflattering jeans. That jacket is silly (just buy two jackets, Bill. Seriously). He’s old enough to be, if not my dad, at least significantly older than me. And yet I really do not think I’ve ever seen a more attractive romantic lead, ever. Do you need another picture?
Anyway, Bill Pullman and The Jacket are the only ones who suspect something might be up. This is Bill Pullman’s suspicious face:
But you know it’s only a matter of time before he falls in love with Sandra Bullock. Who wouldn’t? America’s Sweetheart, that one. And of course Sandra Bullock falls in love with him. He wants to start a chair making business (OF COURSE HE DOES), he’s wearing the hell out of those jeans, and he growls, like, 95% of his lines. They fall over in the snow!
And then they have what is my FAVORITE romantic comedy moment. It’s the thing where two characters are joking around but then ALL OF A SUDDEN they end up with their faces just an inch apart! And then some drunk guy or inappropriate old man or precocious child says something and they break apart, but it’s too late. They already Had A Moment.
It’s called tension, you guys.
But of course their love can never be, because Sandra Bullock is fake engaged to Peter Gallagher’s Eyebrows. In itself that doesn’t make much sense, but it all comes back to Sandra’s desire. That is, her desire for a family. Because Bill Pullman/Petey’s family has already become her family, and she doesn’t want to give that up, even if it means fraudulently marrying some dude who was just in a coma.
Some other stuff happens and blah, blah, blah. The point is things work out with a ring being tossed into a toll booth and oh my God I think I just had a heart attack. Why are we not still talking about how attractive Bill Pullman was? I can’t be the only one who thinks so, right? I get it, Lost Highway was the creepiest movie any of us have ever seen, but damn if he didn’t pay a mean jazz sax.
Yes, Bill Pullman, I WILL marry you.
And I’d say the same about you, Bill.
You can watch the whole thing on Youtube.
It’s a romantic comedy where no one poops on anything or has sex with an animal. Simpler times. Just a guy in a coma and a girl pretending to be his fiancee.
Previously:This Movie Is The Best Movie: Valley Girl