Friday Film Review: While You Were Sleeping
While You Were Sleeping (1995)
Genre: romantic comedy
The first time I saw this film was with a dear friend of mine who told me I’d love it. Me, I was skeptical since I wasn’t really into romantic comedies then but by the end of the movie, I was in love with it. So in love that I went home and bought my own VHS copy – which has since been replaced with a DVD. I wanted Lucy’s romance, and Lucy’s future family-in-law and Lucy’s HEA. And each time I see it, I still do.
CTA token booth agent Lucy Moderatz (Sandra Bullock) falls in love with Peter Callaghan (Peter Gallagher) the first time she sees him. Too shy to say anything to him, she yearns from afar until the day that muggers knock Peter into the path of an oncoming express train and Lucy saves his life. Now a mix up at the hospital, where Peter is in a coma, has his whole family thinking that Lucy is Peter’s fiancee.
The big hearted Callaghan clan welcomes her with open arms and Lucy, who is alone in the world except for her cat, can’t help but fall in love with them even as she’s racked with guilt about lying to them. But it isn’t until brother Jack (Bill Pullman) arrives on the scene that she’s really in trouble. As the days go by and these two spend more time together, Lucy finds herself falling for the wrong brother just as Jack is falling for her. So, what’s going to happen when Peter finally comes out of his coma?
This is such a feel good movie – but it’s not one that’s so desperate to be one that it shoves it’s feel-goodness in your face. It just gently moves along and catches you in its magic. And right when it starts to edge in the vague direction of maybe a little too treacley, Ox (Peter Boyle), Saul (Jack Warner) or Elsie (Glynis Johns) slips in a sharp comic line to make you laugh again. Or Lucy has to prove herself by explaining about Peter’s testicle which is an owie moment.
Sandra Bullock manages to play Lucy in such a way that I don’t think she’s a sad, lonely loser. Instead she’s a woman who just hasn’t met that special someone who sees beyond her shy exterior yet. And Bill Pullman is fabulous as the man who suspects something is off, after all she leans into Joe Jr, but who falls for Lucy anyway because “I’d say that she gets under your skin as soon as you meet her. She drives you so nuts you don’t know whether to hug her or, or just really arm wrestle her. She would go all the way to Europe just to get a stamp in her passport. I don’t know if that amounts to insanity, or just being really, really… likable.” And because this is the first time he’s envied his brother anything.
The film has so many great scenes: the opening the Christmas presents at the Callaghans – where they’ve hung a handmade stocking for Lucy, several scenes between Jack and Lucy as they move a love seat present into Peter’s apartment or walk home through the cold only to slip on the ice in front of Lucy’s apartment, Saul and Lucy’s conversation about the Callaghan family, the dinner scene with the creamy mash potatoes, the hilarious wedding scene and the final proposal scene with the whole Callaghan family.
It’s also got some of my favorite actors like Jack Warner, Peter Boyle, Glynis Johns, and actors new to me like Micole Mercurio as Midge Callaghan, Michael Rispoli – he of the butt crackage – as the obnoxious son of Lucy’s apartment manager and Jason Bernard as Jerry, Lucy’s boss with whom she has some of the funniest conversations in the movie.
Lucy: I’m having an affair. I like Jack.
Jerry: Who’s Jack?
Lucy: Peter’s brother.
Lucy: So he thinks I’m engaged.
Jerry: To who?
Lucy: To Peter.
Jerry: Lucy, I really don’t have time for this.
Lucy: No, you have to tell me what to do.
Jerry: Tell the truth.
Lucy: If I tell Jack I lied to his family he will *never* speak to me again. And Ox and Midge and Mary and Saul.
Jerry: Saul? Who’s Saul?
Lucy: The next door neighbor. But you know what? Actually, he knows.
Jerry: Lucy, you are born into a family. You do not join them like you do the marines.
Lucy: So what should I do?
Jerry: Pull the plug.
Lucy: You’re sick.
Jerry: I’m sick? You’re cheating on a vegetable.
Jerry: So what’s the big deal?
Lucy: What’s the big deal? Jerry, they think I’m their future daughter in law. And the grandma has got this heart thing and if I tell them the truth, she’s gonna have a heart attack and die and it’s gonna be on my head.
Jerry: Well, go along with it and when Peter comes out of the coma the family’ll be so happy they won’t care that you lied to them. They’ll probably even thank you for it.
Lucy: [to hot dog vendor] *Just* Mustard.
Lucy: Ok, what if he *doesn’t* come out of his coma?
Jerry: Then who’s to know?
Jerry: Listen, Lucy, when I told my mother I was getting married to my wife, her intestines exploded. You tell them the truth now, you may as well shoot grandma.
I love to watch Lucy skate on the edge of being found out yet realistically get out of it each time. Which she manages without lying – too much. And who wouldn’t fall for the man who buys you a Florence snow globe just because you once told him you want to go there? Sigh… After I finish watching “While You Were Sleeping,” I have a big smile on my face and feel happy all over. Plus the paperboy falling off his bike always gets a laugh too.