Movie Project #18 and #19: Big (1988) and When Harry Met Sally… (1989)

50 Movies Project #4: Contemporary Edition

The 50 Movies Project is an annual tradition at The Warning Sign. Every year, I select 50 movies that I feel I must see in order to continue my progression as a film lover. This year I’m focusing on contemporary films (1980 to present day) that I somehow haven’t gotten around to seeing yet.

Big (1988)
Big [1988, dir. Penny Marshall]
Big is a movie that could have only happened in the ’80s. The idea of a young boy wishing to become a grown up — and succeeding — is so ridiculous that it simply shouldn’t work (or make for a good film, anyway). Never doubt Tom Hanks, though. His performance as a grown up child is magical.

Going into the film, all I knew of was the iconic scene where Hanks and Robert Loggia play a giant piano at FAO Schwarz. While that is certainly a great bit, what surprised me was how genuinely funny Big is through its entirety. The humor is generally light-hearted, even as it dabbles in areas that are hardly appropriate (i.e. Hanks, technically a 12-year-old, hooking up with an adult Elizabeth Perkins), and I found myself laughing quite a bit (especially during the first trip to New York). The film is also heartwarming, and it absolutely nails that feeling of what it’s like to be a kid. And let’s face it — anyone who is even remotely still a kid at heart would kill for Hanks’s toy-testing job. 8/10

When Harry Met Sally... [1988]
When Harry Met Sally… [1989, dir. Rob Reiner]
Why is it so difficult to make an intelligent romantic comedy these days? When Harry Met Sally… sure makes it look easy. Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan play two acquaintances who meet periodically over the years before finally forming a friendship when both are fresh off of breakups with their significant others. Harry (Crystal) doesn’t believe men and women can be friends without sex getting in the way. Sally disagrees, and this debate constantly lingers over them.

Nora Ephron’s sharp script is the biggest highlight, but Crystal and Ryan also happen to have some terrific chemistry. Crystal’s deadpan wit and Ryan’s bubbly personality play off each other wonderfully, and their gradually progressing relationship is entirely convincing. The film doesn’t rely on contrived tropes to tell the story — it all happens naturally. It’s just a good all-around film that both men and women can enjoy. 8/10

13 thoughts on “Movie Project #18 and #19: Big (1988) and When Harry Met Sally… (1989)

  1. Tom says:

    Great reviews, both Eric. I think it’s criminal I have yet to see Big. But When Harry Met Sally. . . hasn’t really ever appealed to me, until now. You make it sound really good. A pleasant watch. I’m always up for those

  2. ruth says:

    Doubling up on Mr Hanks eh? Great picks too! Glad you finally saw these two and loved them. I particularly like When Harry Met Sally, it’s when rom-com was still so watchable, thanks to Nora Ephron. Oh how I miss her!

  3. Dan Heaton says:

    Eric, I’m surprised you’ve gone this long without seeing either one of these. On the other hand, I’m envious that you go to watch both for the first time. Big in particular holds up pretty well because of Hanks’ performance, and it’s such a warm story. When Harry Met Sally also avoids the typical romantic comedy issues, and the main reason is that Crystal and Ryan are so good. The writing’s also very sharp.

  4. Alex Withrow says:

    You’re so right about Big – there’s really no way that movie should work. But Hanks completely sells it, and now the film is an ’80s classic. Really happy to hear you liked that one.

  5. Paul S says:

    When Harry Met Sally was the movie where I fell in love With Meg Ryan. I saw it on a date, on its initial release, and I couldn’t help moaning and gasping whenever Meg would do something… roll her eyes, deliver a line, laugh… my date continually elbowed me in the ribs and got very agitated. No second date for us, but my love for When Harry Met Sally endures to this day.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s