When Harry Met Sally… (1989)

when harry met sally poster 1989 movie
9.0 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 9/10

Great, smart script


Movie Info

Movie Name:  When Harry Met Sally…

Studio:  Castle Rock Entertainment/Nelson Entertainment

Genre(s):  Romance/Comedy

Release Date(s):  July 12, 1989 (Premiere)/July 21, 1989 (US)

MPAA Rating:  R

when harry met sally drive to chicago billy crystal meg ryan

Men and women can’t be friends

Harry Burns (Billy Crystal) and Sally Albright (Meg Ryan) were at odds when they first met, and Harry revealed that he did not believe it was possible for a man and woman to be friends without sex getting in the way.  Years later after a couple of random run-ins, they are trying to test that theory.  As the two bounce between relationships, the idea will be tested.  Harry and Sally are just friends…but can that friendship possibly last?

Directed by Rob Reiner, When Harry Met Sally… is a romantic comedy.  The film was released to positive reviews and was a box office success.  The film received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay for Norah Ephron’s script which has also was adapted into a stage play in 2004, and the movie was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry in 2022.

when harry met sally fake orgasm katzs deli ill have what shes having billy crystal meg ryan

She really loves the pastrami on rye (with everything on the side)

When Harry Met Sally… is one of the quintessential romantic comedies of modern time.  While the older screwball romances were a bit more on the “wacky” side, romances like Moonstruck and When Harry Met Sally… kind of were transitional movies.  This movie gets it right and remains endearing simply because of its heart and smart script.

The story can appeal to both men and women because it is a very balanced script.  Harry pessimistic concerns sometimes come off as cool and cold, but they are often kind of universal concerns while Sally’s optimism is both good and bad…both are very openly flawed characters.  While Harry’s ability to admit his flaws (and point out others) is a negative in the bigger picture, Sally’s inability to accept quirks as a negative or permanent trait is also annoying…which makes the two perfect for each other.  They are yin and yang.  It takes a balanced approach because everyone in the film has faults and eventually finds someone who can accept those faults.

when harry met sally sleep together friends billy crystal meg ryan


Billy Crystal is toned down a lot in the movie, but he still is Billy Crystal.  His conversations were often based on real conversations he had with Rob Reiner, but when paired with Meg Ryan or Bruno Kirby (playing his friend Jess), they feel natural.  Likewise, Meg Ryan has always seem like the cute preppy girl and the role works for her.  The dialogue between her and Harry ranges from respect to disgust…but it does seem like a genuine friendship.  You also get Carrie Fisher as Ryan’s friend who helps balance out the film from simply being anti-men relationships since her character is having a long term affair with a married man throughout the film.

when harry met sally bruno kirby carrie fisher billy crystal meg ryan

They did it

The movie also makes great use of New York City as almost another character.  Both Crystal and Ryan really feel like they live in New York and have that almost bubble effect of a big city.  They might get out occasionally, but there is enough in the city that just keeps them there.  From walks in the park to the classic Katz’s Delicatessen fake orgasm scene, the movie is a very New York comedy (without having to be a Woody Allen comedy).

I don’t always love Rob Reiner, Billy Crystal, or Meg Ryan, but When Harry Met Sally… is a perfect blend for the creators.  With great moments, a good (and more realistic) romance, and a classic setting and theme, the movie has deservedly endured.  It can be enjoyed by everyone and even can be considered a “holiday” movie since there are a number of scenes that occur during the Christmas and New Year’s Eve celebrations…but it is a movie that you’ll be ok to serve up again and again as comfort food.  “I’ll have what she’s having.”

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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