Butt News Movie Club #1: Sleepless in Seattle
Want to Feel Old? The Kid from Sleepless in Seattle is a DILF Now!
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We open at mommy’s funeral, like all the best comedies do. Tom Hanks’s wife has just died and he and his eight-year-old son Jonah are adjusting to a new life. Nothing can cheer Hanks up at this point. Not Victor Garber, not Rita Wilson, not being architect, not eat Chicago dog, somehow STILL NOT VICTOR GARBER (!?). (If I was friends with Victor Garber I wouldn’t even care if I died! Even if Victor Garber killed me!!)
Hanks is so grouchy that when his coworker comes in and says, “Here, my shrink, call him…” Hanks cuts him right off! No thank you, Larry! Hanks has already been shrunked by all the shrinks in Chicago, so you can shut the hell up!
Dude, though, you gotta let people finish. Maybe he was going to say, “Here, my shrink, call him, he has the purest MDMA!” Give people a chance for once! (Except for the entire rest of this movie, when you definitely need to be giving people WAY LESS OF A CHANCE, as a rule. More on that coming up!)
Chet Haze, Sr. decides that what he really needs is to move to a new city because true love “just doesn’t happen twice.” That’s one of da fundymental tinks that you learn from this movie. Or is it!? (Remember how this movie made “As Time Goes By” by Jimmy Durante a full top 40 radio hit in 1993? LOL.)
Cut to Baltimore, where Meg Ryan (female journalist) is engaged to Bill Pullman (allergic), because this is a thoroughbred-ass ‘90s cast. They go to Christmas dinner at Meg Ryan’s parents’ house, where Bill Pullman embarrasses everyone by being allergic to strawberries like a huge piece of shit. He sneezes during their engagement announcement! Red flag!!! (Also he is literally her boss at the newspaper, an actual red flag and the first of about a billion times in this movie where no one has ever heard of a boundary.)
Somehow they make it through Sneezergate and Annie (Meg Ryan) tells the “cute” story of how she and Walter (Bill Pullman) met:
“One day [AT WORK, WHERE HE IS HER BOSS] we both ordered sandwiches from the same place and he got my lettuce and tomato on whole wheat, which of course he was allergic to, and I got his lettuce and tomato on white!”
So many things here. Well, two things.
1. He’s allergic to…. The bran of the wheat? He can eat white bread but not wheat bread? What the fuck allergy is that?
2. You not only ordered but had someone drive to you with a lettuce and tomato sandwich!?!?!? WHAT KIND OF FUCKING ARCANE HORROR IS A LETTUCE AND TOMATO SANDWICH?????????????????? Do you eat olive and sour cream tacos too? Oh, you know what’s good? PASTA WATER.
This is the first crack in the veneer. I’m sorry to tell you this but Nora Ephron is twisted as hell.
After dinner, whilst helping Annie try on Nana’s wedding dress (Walter is downstairs choking on a glass Christmas tree ball no doubt), Annie’s mom asks the obvious question but acts like it’s rhetorical instead of EXTREMELY LITERAL AND URGENT: “How many people in this world like lettuce and tomato without something else like tuna?”
FUCKING NO ONE, BARBARA. WHY ARE YOU SOFTBALLING HER ON THIS!? If you don’t know how to ask a follow-up question, maybe ask your female journalist daughter for advice on how to not let her off the hook for having the sandwich opinions of a mass shooter?
Then Barbara (this actress’s name, by the way, is Le Clanché du Rand, which by my calculations indicates that she is either a cheese or a WW1 battlefield??) tells the story of the moment she realized that Annie’s dad was the one—she says their fingers intertwined and “I couldn’t tell which fingers were his and which were mine” (which, are you sure?) and that’s when she knew. It was “magic.”
And Annie is like, “huh??????” because she does not feel magic when she fingers Walter, she only feels clockwork! And the ceaseless piss piss piss of Walter’s humidifier! Then she accidentally rips off the sleeve of Nana’s dress. “It’s a sign!”
Yeah, a sign that you need to go on an armpit diet, chunky! (Body-positive alt: Yeah, a sign that you’re freaking yoked, John Cena!!!!!)
To get to their follow-up Christmas dinner with Walter’s family (on the menu: just epi-pens!), Annie and Walter have to drive in separate cars because they are Logistical, which is the opposite of Horny. On the way, she catches a few minutes of a radio call-in show hosted by Dr. Marsha Fieldstone, a sort of woman Frasier who is doing a Christmas special about “wishes and dreams.”
A little boy named Jonah calls in and says that his Christmas wish is for his dad to have a new wife. Dr. Marsha Fieldstone tells him to put his dad on the phone, and yowza! It’s the Jonah and the dad from the beginning of the movie! Hanks is back! And guess what—he’s still depressed.
This dialogue is very good (I am not being sarcastic):
“Talk to her, dad, she’s a doctor.”
“Of what? Her first name could be Doctor!”
Dr. Marsha Fieldstone berates this grieving widower for not hooking up with a horny hottie soon enough to please his strange son. Now, Marsha. Did you not have to take some sort of doctor oath to not be extremely inappropriate!? Can I please submit a complaint to MyChart??
Hanks admits that he cannot sleep, on account of the RECENT DEATH, so instead of offering MEDICAL ADVICE, Fieldstone totally roasts him with the nickname “Sleepless in Seattle.”
Annie is deeply moved in the car listening to Sleepless in Seattle’s description of his deceased wife: “She made everything beautiful… I knew it the very first time I touched her… it was like coming home.” Annie stops at a diner for some reason (avoiding Walter tbqh) and everyone in the diner is listening to Dr. Marsha Fieldstone too. Two out of two waitresses agree: none of the waitresses in the diner would kick Sleepless in Seattle out of bed for eating crackers! They “bet he’s tall with a cute butt.” Two thousand women want his number! The entire eastern seaboard is officially horny as hell for Tom Hanks. Sleepless in Seattle has GONE VIRAL.
(It’s so comforting to realize that even pre-internet it was possible to “go viral.” I forgot about that! Things aren’t as different as you feel like they are! Isn’t that nice? <3)
Anyway, then Annie gets to Walter’s parents’ house and you just KNOW it’s gonna fuckin’ suck!!!!!
Annie talks to her work friend, Rosie O’Donnell, about her erotic obsession with this absolutely random anonymous radio man who only said maybe 200 words and literally all of them were about his x-treme emotional problems following the recent tragic death of his young wife. Schwing!
Then Rosie says one of those lines from the ‘90s that you can’t say anymore, because time marches on and we, as a society, get better. Good job, us!
Then Annie tries to tell a story about how Walter said something funny the other day, but halfway through realizes that Walter did not, in fact, say something funny the other day. Nonetheless, she and Walter make plans to go to New York City for Valentine’s Day weekend.
It’s New Year’s Eve in Seattle, and Tom Hanks is taking out his emotional pain on his son by making him play two-person Monopoly in a houseboat. Jonah says fuck this shit and goes to bed, whereupon Hanks is visited by his wife’s ghost, who immediately asks if she can have half his beer. (Typical wife! Order your own!!) She reminds him of the classic catchphrase she used to say: “Here’s to us.” It’s almost as good as her other classic catchphrase, “Hey could you hand me that?” She made everything beautiful.
Jonah, having recently doxxed his own family on national radio, now has 700 new mommy applications to go through. Hanks is not interested.
More good dialogue (seriously this movie is actually very good):
Jonah: “If you get a new wife I guess you’ll have sex with her, huh?”
Hanks: “I certainly hope so.”
Jonah: “Will she scratch up your back?”
Jonah: “In movies women are always scratching up the man’s back and screaming and stuff when they’re having sex.”
Hanks: “How do you know this?”
Jonah: “Jed’s got cable.”
Over in Baltimore, Annie cannot stop thinking about Hanks. Now she is Sleepless in Baltimore! But Walter cares only for his humidifier!!!!!!!! Annie goes to the kitchen and peels a night apple while she listens to Hanks on Dr. Marsha Fieldstone yet again. She feels the special finger magic every time she hears Hanks’s voice-fingers intertwine with her ear-fingers! What is she going to do!? “I am having all of these fantasies about some man I have never even met, who lives in SEATTLE!” Is it just cold feet!?!?!? (No! It’s extremely fucked up and weird and someone should tell you!)
She decides it’s just cold feet. She recommits herself to Walter. Walter rocks! There’s no way he is a worse option than just the incorporeal voice of a depressed stranger squeaking out of a radio in the night about how he loves someone dead! …Right??
Hanks goes out for lunch with his work wife, Rob Reiner, down at 1st and Stewart where alllllllllll the Seattleites hang out, and they have lunch in the market at either Lowell’s or the Athenian (I can never tell them apart—I think Lowell’s is slightly better?). MY GOD, can you imagine if either of those was actually a truly incredible diner with that view instead of a tourist trap where they sell you $40 bowls of microwaved chowder they may or may not have glopped out of plastic packets allegedly!? (Ugh, Lowell’s might have good chowder! I am spiraling from guilt over besmirching Lowell’s without having been there in 20 years!) Anyway, my husband worked at the worse one for a week in like 2002 and a coworker told him that one time a baby fell in the deep fryer. Definitely didn’t happen, but I think about it every night!
Reiner gives Hanks his advice on modern dating, which is, beginning to end, that Hanks has to be prepared for tiramisu. That’s all the advice. Get ready to slam tiramisu all night. Not if you date me, baby!! Why would I want to eat wet fingers!?
Hanks comes home and finds Jonah chilling with his sidepiece (main chick: Dr. Marsha Fieldstone), Gaby Hoffman (legend). They razz him so hard about being a born-again virgin that he straps on his shiny shirt and goes a’rolodexing.
Hanks calls up a woman from work (AGAIN WITH THIS) and asks her out. It’s on.
Annie and Rosie are watching a Cary Grant movie and butt-chugging Snapple (the life!), when Sleepless in Seattle takes its first major dark turn into horror. Annie, an otherwise seemingly normal person with a good brain, can’t shake the feeling that Tom Hanks’s voice might be her soulmate (okay, fine, same) and WRITES HIM A LETTER asking him to MEET HER ON THE TOP OF THE EMPIRE STATE BUILDING ON VALENTINE’S DAY, where she will only BE, BY THE WAY, BECAUSE WALTER IS TAKING HER THERE. I guess Walter is allergic to everything except being a cuck!!!!!!!
This has the exact same energy as those women who, like, marry Richard Ramirez over the phone.
Then Annie and Rosie cry because it’s all so beautiful and not at all disordered.
Then we find out that Hanks’s dead wife “could peel an apple in one long curly strip,” and I think we’re supposed to be like wowwwwwwww!!!! Meg Ryan can do that tooooooooo!!!!! It’s fate!!! But respectfully who cares!?!?!? She should peel a law book in one long curly strip and learn why stalking is illegal!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
BECAUSE THEN, OH MY GOD, Annie uses her journalism degree to track down Sam and Jonah’s HOME PHONE NUMBER like a full lettuce and tomato sandwich-eating cannibal king!!!!!!! Then she calls them, gets their last name from the outgoing message, AND RUNS A BACKGROUND CHECK ON HANKS USING THE NEWSPAPER DATABASE. THIS IS ALL VERY BAD. AND IT GETS MORE BAD.
I love the computer interfaces in old movies, by the way. Annie’s computer is just a black screen that she types queries into in full sentences and then the computer tells her secrets. It’s essentially Ghostwriter.
Hanks goes on his date with Victoria, which drives Jonah to the brink. He has discovered Annie’s letter, somehow, out of the thousands of letters they’ve received, and for some reason he is sure that Annie is America’s Next Top New Mommy. He calls the restaurant (remember that?) and interrupts Hanks’s date to ask if they can go to New York for Valentine’s Day to meet Annie.
Hanks, understandably, is like, beep boop boop adoption agency? Yes I have one deranged son up for grabs?
Speaking of deranged, NOW WE FIND OUT ANNIE HAS HIRED A PRIVATE DETECTIVE TO STALK HANKS AND PHOTOGRAPH HIM AND VICTORIA ON THEIR DATE. PEOPLE, I AM FLAT ON THE FLOOR.
Then Hanks introduces Victoria to Jonah, which is completely inappropriate, she absolutely should not be meeting his son after one date, did everyone in this movie grow up in the landfill, oh my god help. Jonah hates Victoria because 1) she is not Annie (GOOD!!!!!!), 2) she laughs at things that are not funny and has a bad laugh, and 3) she is lukewarm on camping.
He storms off in disgust. Then he calls Dr. Marsha Fieldstone. “Now he’s kissing her on the lips! She’s a ho! My dad’s been captured by a ho! What am I gonna do!?” (This movie says “ho” a lot. Is that something we did in the ‘90s? Call people a “ho” just in passing literally all the time even thought we were eight years old? I did not remember that!)
Over in B-more, Rosie wakes Annie up and tells her to turn her radio on. She hides in her ironing board closet to listen without alerting dead Walter. But he finds her anyway! Annie makes up a good save which is that Rosie thought it was her boyfriend Rick on the radio but it turned out to be a guy who lived in Duluth.
Walter, a zombie with no conscience: “Duluth… that’s in North Dakota.”
WALTER DOESN’T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT DULUTH. ANOTHER STRIKE.
So Annie, absolutely unhinged, flies to Seattle.
She flies her body to Seattle on a plane, which, by the way, in 1993 cost like $4,000.
This is literally stalking. This is stalking!!!!!! This is bad! I have written whole essays about how in ‘90s rom-coms we framed stalking behaviors as romance, but I’m not sure I even comprehended the gravity of the issue before this. The only difference between Sleepless in Seattle and Fatal Attraction is the soundtrack!
After Jonah is a real dickhead to Victoria for no reason, Victoria tells Hanks, “Maybe we can spend some time alone.” YEAH, YOU SHOULD BE SPENDING ALL YOUR TIME ALONE. IT IS SO INAPPROPRIATE THAT THIS WOMAN HAS EVEN MET YOUR GRIEVING SON.
But speaking of no boundaries, Meg Ryan GOES TO THEIR HOUSEBOAT, then FOLLOWS THEM AROUND ALL DAY (BTW for Seattle people, these guys appear to take a tiny rowboat around Lake Union, through the locks, and then across Elliott Bay to Alki, which means they are dead now and peeling apples in heaven with mom), JUST WATCHING AND SPYING (AND PRESUMABLY MASTURBATING A LITTLE) FROM AROUND THE CORNERS OF BUILDINGS!!!!!!!!!!!!!! If I ever get on plane for a man and then proceed to behave like a man, promise me you will drag me straight to hell no matter how hard I claw.
Also, the whole premise of this is so silly—Meg Ryan being all shy and nervous about this man she likes, even if he IS tall with a cute butt. Like, I have an idea, Meg. If you want to start dating him, you should try going up to him and just saying, “Hi, I look like this?” Like maybe just show him your face and body?
Annie calls Rosie for a check-in, because you always call your most chaotic friend when you want some validation for your worst impulses.
Annie: “Is this crazy?”
Rosie: “No, that’s the weirdest part about it.”
Respectfully, Rosie, even if we set aside the cross-country stalking, the “weirdest part about it” is BARE MINIMUM the lettuce and tomato sandwich!!!
Annie follows Hanks and Jonah back to the houseboat and watches them from across the street some more (I believe this is Nickerson St., which is also the street where my great grandfather fell down and died on his way home from the bar!), trying to work up the courage to go say something. Maybe something like, “help me help meeeeeeee pleeeeeease [croooooooooaak] turn away save yourself I am not right inside I am consumed by a wickedness he hungers he hungers help yourself please help me take pity please sir please help me diiiiiiiie.” But just when she’s about to do it, she’s cock-blocked by Rita Wilson! We’ve all been there, Annie.
Assuming that Rita Wilson is Hanks’s ho, Annie turns to leave and almost gets hit by a cab and dies. Hanks spies her across the street and mouths “hello?” at her. But it’s too late. Annie flies home, her virginity intact.
Forging ahead with his own incomprehensible obsession, Jonah convinces Gaby Hoffman to book him a plane ticket to New York on her mom’s travel agent computer.
Annie and Walter go shopping for their wedding china. Wow! They pick the exact same china! Another sign! Walter gives Annie his mother’s beautiful ring.
Walter: “It was my mother’s. I had them size it down. She had really fat fingers.”
Annie: “It’s exactly what I would pick out if I had every ring in the whole world to choose from.”
Yeah, sorry, liking the same stuff does not = lifelong romantic compatibility! How many china patterns even are there? Like 175? There are 7 billion people in the world! By the china pattern metric, statistically, you’re also soulmates with for example like 47 million strangers across the Eurasian steppe?
Bill Pullman does a really good job playing a man who would not be able to choke a woman during sex if she asked him to. Walter would only be able to choke a woman for murder.
Meanwhile, Jonah tries to guilt Hanks out of going on his romantic vacation with Victoria. I’ve got sympathy for you, Jonah, but LET THE MAN GET HIS DICK WET! His dick is like a chic-o-stik, brother!
Jonah: “What’s wrong with Annie!?”
Hanks: “Oh, Jonah, SHUT UP! [Ed.: correct!] There is no way that we are going on a plane to meet some woman who could be some crazy sick lunatic! [Ed. SHE IS ONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!]”
Every performance in this movie is really good, including the brief but beautiful appearance of Clarice the babysitter.
Jonah goes rogue and flies to NYC on his own with his sweet Mariners backpack. He takes what must have been at least a $85 cab ride to the Empire State Building, then spends another $47 to ride the elevator. (The movie skips over the 8 weeks Jonah spent living at JFK and teaching himself to breakdance just so that he could panhandle enough money to get out of the airport.)
Okay! Here we are! It’s the big finish!
Annie is on a stinky date with Walter at a restaurant with a view of the Empire State Building. She can’t stop staring at it, wondering if there’s a kid over there waiting for her to come fuck his dad.
Hanks arrives in New York, searching for Jonah.
Jonah sits alone on the observation deck, getting depressed.
The sun goes down.
Walter makes a shitty joke to the waiter: “ Can we get a bottle of Dom DeLuise?”
This is the last straw for Annie. No one fucking talks about Dom DeLuise like that in front of her!!!! She spills it all to Walter, the whole story: the cancer that took Tom Hanks’s wife, Dr. Marsha Fieldstone, the ironing board closet, the flight to Seattle, the weird, desperate letters she wrote to a child, the Snapple…
Instead of screaming and Kool-Aid-Waltering through the skyscraper window to get away from this bitch, Walter just like picks up the thread of the story like it’s normal:
Walter: “So…he could be on the top of the Empire State Building right now?”
Annie: “It’s not him, Walter. It’s me. I can’t do this.”
Walter: “I don’t want to be someone that you’re settling for. I don’t want to be someone that anyone’s settling for.”
Annie: “Walter, I don’t deserve you.”
Walter: “Nah, I wouldn’t put it that way. But… okay!”
I don’t know why I was so mean to Walter throughout this recap. I think it started because I was being ironic about how the movie tries to frame Walter’s allergies as a repulsive character flaw? But then I got high on my own supply and I became the bad attitude that I was satirizing!! I’m sorry, Walter! This is why irony should be illegal! Walter is a king of healthy masculinity and Annie does not deserve him, it’s true. None of us do.
She gives Walter his fat mom’s ring back, and just then, in the distance, the Empire State Building lights up with a heart. “It’s a sign!” OH MY GOD, IS IT A SIGN FOR THE MILLIONS OF OTHER PEOPLE IN NEW YORK WHO CAN ALSO SEE IT!?!? THE NARCISSISM OF THE “IT’S A SIGN” CROWD IS EXHAUSTING.
Annie starts running over there (UGH, trying to get anywhere in New York!), and Hanks is over there already, and Hanks finds Jonah, and Jonah’s sad (“I thought she’d be here, I thought she’d come”), and Annie is stuck in the lobby berating the elevator man because the elevator is closed. (You can really feel that this was a time when “elevator operator at the Empire State Building” probably paid a living wage. It’s like sci-fi!) The elevator man lets Annie go up and check the deck because she’s a li’l cutie, but Hanks and Jonah are already on their way down in the other elevator! But, hooray, Jonah left his backpack so they have to go back up! Annie finds it and picks it up because of course she has to FREAKING SNOOP and she’s caressing it like “could this be the backpack of that child I stalked?” (WHY WOULD YOU EVER ASSUME THAT) and then this:
Jonah: “I left it by the telly…scopes…”
Hanks: “It’s you.”
Annie: “It’s me.”
Hanks: “I saw you in the street.”
Jonah: “Are you Annie?”
Nobody: “WHY THE FUCK WERE YOU OUTSIDE MY HOUSE??????????????????????”
Gotta love an era when your certainty that something was “meant” to be “yours” was enough to justify literally any behavior. Truly definitely hasn’t had any negative effects on us collectively as a culture!
Then Hanks and Annie hold hands and BINGO BANGO! There’s the magic! FUCK YOU, WALTER!!! Then the soundtrack plays “Make Someone Happy” by Jimmy Durante, because that’s the music they listen to the first time they have sex.
In conclusion, I assume Annie moves to Seattle and gives up her journalism career for this. Very cool.
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