3 Feb 2014

ROM COM RULES - Sleepless In Seattle

A Romantic Comedy.

Sleepless in Seattle, a Rom-Com classic from 1993.  But does it follow the rules?

The following analysis may contain spoilers for

Sleepless in Seattle (1993)

RULE #1 - The Characters

Sam & Annie meet for the first time.
A:  The Couple - Sam Baldwin/Annie Reed.
i.  Balance - The focus in portrayal is shared between Sam and Annie (although a small amount of focus on Sam's son Jonah).
ii.  Opposites in Attitude/Behaviour - Sam believed in true love (having experienced it) but didn't believe he could have it again.  Annie didn't believe in it, but began to realise it was missing from her life.  Both are generally very practical people, though.
iv.  Occupations/free time involving Romance or the Media - Annie is a writer for the Baltimore Sun.

B:  The Best Friend/Confidant - Sam's has friend Jay and sister Greg, Annie has friend/boss Becky and brother Denis.
  • Jay:  Non-"handsome," bearded, overweight. He does do a comedy routine about modern dating.
  • Becky:  Non-"beautiful," overweight.  Played by a comedienne.

C:  The Third Person - Annie is engaged to Walter, Sam begins dating Victoria.
  • Walter:  No magic, dull, has allergies, no real connection or passion.
  • Victoria:  Not liked by Jonah, has an annoying laugh, doesn't like baseball or camping.

Annie strips down.

RULE #2 - There Won't Be T&A

No T&A, as per the rule.
There's no sex, either.  Annie mentions to her mother that she's had sex with Walter, and they are shown sharing a bed, but in very conservative clothing (symbolising the lack of passion in their relationship).  Sam mentions his college sex-life and his hopes for future sex (and makes plans for a weekend alone with Victoria.)

Finally they meet.  Cute.

RULE #3 - The Meet-Cute

The whole film is basically the set-up for the meet-cute at the end at the top of the Empire State Building.

RULE #4 - Circumstances
Not meeting until the end keeps them apart

The entire film is circumstances that keep them apart: especially the fact that they live on the opposite of the country and never met.  Other than that, there are minor ones, like Annie thinking Suzy was Victoria or her elevator arriving after his left.

RULE #5 - Realisation of Love
Love at first sight?

Annie (and thousands of other woman) seem to fall in love with Sam when she first him on the radio, with her becoming more aware of her lack of passion with Walter.  Sam seems to fall in love with her at first sight at the airport.

RULE #6 - The Break-Up

They are not together until the end of the film, so they don't actually break-up during it.

RULE #7 - Separated Forever

After seeing Sam with his sister and thinking it is the girlfriend she already knew he had she returns to Baltimore and thinks she's over him.

RULE #8 - Redemptions

With no break-up there is no need for redemption.

Happily ever after?

RULE #9 - Happily Ever After

You are left to assume, of course, but although Annie broke up with Walter, Sam was probably still with Victoria and they still lived on other sides of the country and really know nothing about each other.

RULE #10 - Sequels

The weakness of the happily ever after, with them not meeting until the very end of the film and still with circumstances between them, the film could be the set up for another Rom-Com sequel which never happened.

The film references An Affair to Remember throughout, and Nora Ephron said that it inspired this film, making this a spiritual sequel to the earlier film.

Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan previously appeared as romantic leads in  Joe Versus the Volcano and later in You've Got Mail together.  Both appeared as leads in other Romantic Comedies.


  • Rules that are followed in this film:  1Ai; 1Aiv; 1Bi; 1Bii; 1Biv; 1C; 2; 3; 4; 5.
  • Rules that are partially followed in this film:   1Aii; 1Bv; 7; 9; 10.
  • Rules that are not followed in this film:  1Aiii; 1Biii; 6; 8.
~ DUG.


  1. Okay. I was not expecting Rom-Com analyses too mostly because I don't know that they usually merit any analysis whatsoever. Still, I read this from beginning to end and that in spite of the fact that I really disliked this movie. But then, there are very few films of this genre I do like so that's no reflection on you whatsoever. In fact, that I read the post in spite of that says a lot in a positive way. Keep up the great work. At least you made me think about rom-coms instead of dismissing them off-hand.

    1. At the moment I'm doing Rom Coms and Slasher Films. Slasher Films I have a love/hate relationship with. Rom Coms I (almost universally) hate. But they are 2 genres who have obvious formulas and that's what I'm testing.
      I try to avoid judgement of the quality of the films in the analysis, but there is something seriously wrong with this one. That there are a lot of crazy women out there sending letters to him but the one who takes the next step of actually stalking him is something special. And that it's better to take a chance on a random meeting than to work on an imperfect relationship. Outside of those issues, it's pretty dull.