Old Lady Movie Night Old Lady Movie Night: "While You Were Sleeping" Anne T. Donahue

THE TIME HAS COME! I promised you seven weeks of Christmas movies, and those seven weeks I shall deliver. NOW, I promise, I won’t actually be WRITING about Christmas because … no. I mean, can you imagine how boring that would be? I’m thinking ONE Christmas post at some point in the next month and a half, MAYBE? What would I even say? (Spoiler: I’ll probably write about working retail during the holidays at least once.) But the rest? No thank you.

No, these are merely movies set DURING Christmas because that is where the quality rom-coms are. Or at the very least, my FAVOURITE rom-coms (that I haven’t already written about). So let’s cut to the chase! Get with the program! Use more of the same phrases repeatedly! COME ON!

1. WHY DON’T ROM-COMS START LIKE THIS ANYMORE

Remember when movies used to start with a cityscape and some “feel good” music? In this case, we’ve got a Chicago backdrop set to “This Will Be” which makes me feel like I am making THE GREATEST CHOICE IN THE ENTIRE WORLD by watching this film. Right away we all know we are in for a treat. Why? Because everyone feels GREAT. It’s Christmas! Chicago is a place! Sandra Bullock! None of this cold open, no laughter, no joke-type of situation. And oh my GOD, we’ve just transitioned into “fun jazz” and a narrative. There’s no time to waste NO TIME TO WASTE AT ALL.

2. For the record, Peter Gallagher will be known only as Sandy Cohen

So get into it. Or do not. But don’t say I didn’t warn you because your warning is officially in bold lettering. *(You can also refer to him as “Eric can’t dance,” my favourite line from his turn in Center Stage.)

3. Why wouldn’t Lucy just say “I’m not working Christmas” straight up?

Am I right? Listen. I used to work retail. I know how this works. And now her boss is making her work Christmas — even though she worked Thanksgiving — because she “doesn’t have a family”? GTFO, Mr. Boss-Man. Sorry, no. Maybe this makes me a bad person, but if I were Lucy I can 100% guarantee I would still abide by my right to a holiday. So WHAT if she doesn’t have a fam-jam event? She gets a holiday just like everybody else. JUST LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE, GUY WHO’S ASKING. And can we talk about the way he asked her? Pretends she’s going to get Employee Of The Month, only to make it hang on whether or not she’ll actually work Christmas? WHO DOES THAT? Why couldn’t he have at least asked her like a normal person a.k.a. like Lou Grant in that episode of Mary Tyler Moore? Soften the blow, guy. Be a friend. Or at the very least, don’t rub it in her face that she’s family-less because … again, WHO DOES THAT.

4. But seriously how did he get knocked unconscious by falling on his back?

I am not about to refute the possibility of this happening, but I AM about to say that I don’t think this would happen. I GET IT. HE HAD TO BE KNOCKED UNCONSCIOUS. But couldn’t he have been hit over the head with his briefcase first or something before he fell — fully awake — about three feet down? He didn’t even fall head first! And yet he landed on his back, sleeping like an angel. I DON’T BUY IT, DIRECTORS. But I won’t protest. No, for this development is crucial. But to those of you joining me, I think we all know this is a little bit of a long shot. Particularly because there is no way — unless he maybe already had a brain injury from a previous incident — that a three foot fall would knock him out for days at a time.

5. I love how in the ’90s all families are just out of control

Right?! This family comes bursting into the hospital totally out of control, just talking and yelling, and NO FAMILIES ARE DEPICTED LIKE THIS TODAY AND IT’S NOT FAIR. Now, I won’t lie: most families aren’t actually like that. But that’s why these movies rule so hard! Like, DUH, we all know the McAllister family is totally fictional, but that’s why they’re SO FANTASTIC. Dear movies and television individuals: please make families lovably totally out of control again. It may not be realistic, but it’s fun. FUN. Especially when one of those actors was in Dawson’s Creek and played Abby. (#NeverForget)

6. Lucy is totally trapped

I used to watch this and think, “There’s no way this would ACTUALLY happen — she’d totally just correct them and tell the truth!” but NO. She really CAN’T. Imagine saving the guy’s life, and then everyone at the hospital thinks you’re engaged, and then his family finds out, and they’re crying and carrying on and then you realize if you tell the truth you have to leave? I mean, okay, fine. You could probably just tell the truth and leave. But this is legitimately difficult! It’s messy now! People are involved! OLD people! With heart conditions! Can I be real? I think I would just run away, and wait for the truth to one day come out. Because I’m a coward, and not up to this emotional free-for-all. Would I leave a letter? Probably not. But I WOULD relocate to a newer, windier city. (Perhaps Boston? Is it windy there?) (“And that’s why you should always leave a note.”)

7. THE MOM FROM MARY POPPINS IS THE AUNT

Shut.

It.

DOWN.

THIS ONE:

She is my spirit animal. And not only because in this particular film she is dressed exactly the way I dress now.

8. How do you come back from this, though?

Mentally, emotionally . . . all of it. HOW. How do you actually come back from lying about being engaged to somebody? I think it actually transcends that “look back on life and laugh” situation, and may even extend into “You don’t. You don’t come back from this.” I don’t even know if I could come back from my FRIEND doing it. And where are her friends in this scenario? Why is nobody saying to her, “Lucy. What do you MEAN? You’ve got to be honest.”

Then again, a big part of me knows that if this was my friend, I would absolutely go along with it because I’d be convinced that it would turn out exactly like While You Were Sleeping. Even if we were in court, and I was watching my friend go to jail.

9. Lucy’s love at first sight speech is actually speaking to my soul

Which terrifies me because as much as I love Lucy (hi-oh!), I don’t actually want to be her and not only because she’s a fictional character. BUT alas, here we are. In this case, she’s going on about love at first sight and asking Sandy Cohen if that’s something he buys into. (He is sleeping, by the way, because all of this is happening WHILE HE IS SLEEPING.) And you know what? Sensible me wants to be all, “Pfff that is TOTALLY not a thing,” but the emotional part of me is all, “YES OF COURSE I BELIEVE IN LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT, ARE YOU DUMB!?” So I don’t know! I don’t know, you guys. Maybe we’ve all been there? I will say that a lot of the dudes I thought I “loved at first sight” were not guys I loved even a little bit in real life, BUT then friends of mine who are legitimately married and with the people they’ll probably be with forever, were ALL “love at first sight situations.” So what I’m saying is “who knows” and also “this movie is everything.” Because now there is beautiful “rom-com” music playing, and I am being possessed by the spirit of Christmas.

10. I would like to defend TV dinners

Because I eat them sometimes and do you know what? THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THEM. Lucy is being depicted as “sad” because she is feeding her cat and enjoying some microwaved cuisine, and no. NO! Sometimes it’s just convenient, okay? Sometimes — if you’re me — you don’t feel good, so you just heat up whatever is in the freezer because otherwise you have to bundle up, go to the car, start the car, drive the car, put gas in the car, go to the grocery store, park the car, go into the store, look around the store, pay for your purchases, come out, get back in your car, and . . . UGH. NO. See? Maybe Lucy is just tired. Maybe Lucy just has better things to do than cook or go to the store.

11. Old Christmas is the better Christmas

CONTROVERSIAL STATEMENT ALERT: I love old-looking, kitschy Christmas. I KNOW now that it’s 2012 it’s supposed to be “trendy” and “classy” Christmas, but no. NO. I DO NOT RELATE NOR UNDERSTAND. Do you know what’s better than the decorations of the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, and in this case the ’90s? NOTHING. Nothing is better! In this case, Lucy waltzes into a makeshift winter wonderland COMPLETELY decked out in garland and poinsettias and more red than anyone could possibly imagine. What’s the point of Christmas if you’re not going to go all out and be obnoxious about everything? I AM SEEING EVEN CHRISTMAS-THEMED BLANKETS. And felt stockings! Oh my GOD I want to hang out with this family right now. They remind me of Christmas when I was little — and you know what? Even now. PRAISE ALL OF THE LORDS my family does not try to be “hip” or “trendy” and the same decorations have been used since 1984 when my parents got married. Also, egg nog. And I THINK I might treat. my. self. to an egg nog latte tonight*.

*I am insufferable slash the worst, I completely understand.

12. “This is Callahan. Leave a message, and I’ll get back to ya. Ciao.”

IS the outgoing message of one Mr. Sandy Cohen. This isn’t particularly relevant, I just needed you to know.

13. AND BILL PULLMAN IN THE HOUSE

Literally. He has just arrived to the house. And it’s not a romantic comedy without him, so THANK GOODNESS because officially, While You Were Sleeping is THEE holiday romantic comedy of the 1990s. Bill Pullman, if you’re reading this, I just feel like we would really get along well. (And I love every character you play between 1992 and 1998.)

14. If this happened in real life though Lucy would absolutely be arrested

I say, as I watch her go through Peter’s personal effects. Is this fraud? What would this be called, do you think, in real life? Infringement of privacy? SOMETHING shady. We laugh, but this is all sorts of documentary real life. But this brings me to my next point . . .

15. Sandy Cohen seems like THE WORST

And so Lucy goes into his apartment, for reasons none of us will ever know. And there, she stumbles upon the fact that he lives in a penthouse (already out of my comfort zone), decked out in black leather everything (nooope), and lacking blinds (GET BLINDS). But wait! I am not finished: after turning a corner, we see that Sandy Cohen not only has a bar — a metallic and BLACK bar, thank you very much — in the front hall, but a framed black and white photo of HIMSELF, in case he’d like to, say, cheers a beverage to the white turtleneck he appears to be wearing in this beautiful snapshot circa 1994.

16. Shout out to Saul!

Why is everyone named Saul rad? First, Saul from this movie that we are watching right now (a.k.a. the uncle who knows Lucy’s lying but has her back and doesn’t want her to hurt the family so he doesn’t say anything and the two work together to build the most beautiful life for everyone), and second, Saul from Homeland, who I love with all my heart. Let’s hear it for the Sauls! (Sung, of course, to “Let’s Hear It For The Boy” by . . . I WANT to say Gloria Estefan?) #CHRISTMAS #SAUL

17. AHHH BILL PULLMAN AND SANDRA BULLOCK ARE EVERYTHING IN THIS

So in case you haven’t seen While You Were Sleeping (and if you haven’t, AMAZING that you are still reading, you beautiful unicorn of a human being), then know that Sandy Cohen’s brother BILL PULLMAN and Sandra Bullock are currently walking around Chicago talking about feelings, and it is PERFECT. Sandra has just shown Bill Bullman her passport and they are totally bonding, and MY HEART, YOU GUYS. This. THIS. This is what dreams are made of.

18. No THIS is what dreams are made of

THEY ARE FALLING ON ICE AND IT IS SO CUTE AND INTENTIONALLY TO PUT THEM IN AN AWKWARD “WILL THEY KISS?” SITUATION. And if you think for ONE minute I am about to scale down the capital letters, you know NOTHING about who I am as a person, because if you were here, you would hear everything spoken in the highest pitch and in the loudest voice. Now, Bill Pullman is waiting until Sandra Bullock gets in the house, and THAT my friends, is what we call “manners.”

Absolutely this is my cue to go on a rant. MANNERS, EVERYONE. Waiting until people go inside before you leave! WALKING someone to their door! Going to someone’s door to PICK THEM UP! Whatever happened to politeness? Whatever happened to the . . . milk man, the paper boy, and evening TV! (Family Matters. Anyone? Also set in Chicago. Come on, you guys!)

19. Full disclosure: I don’t like New Year’s Eve

Have I told you guys this before? And I say this because Lucy and Bill Pullman are about to go to a New Year’s event, and you guys, I just HATE IT. There’s too much pressure! But I WOULD love New Year’s if it was like this one. Do you know why? Because Bill Pullman is leaning in on Lucy like they are going to k-i-s-s, and I am basically Kathy Geiss watching Liz Lemon and Jack Donaghey re-enact the soap opera in Jack’s office. (“Kiss! KISS!”)

20. But the family would TOTALLY clue in on Lucy not being his fiancee, I think

They’d have to! He remembers EVERYTHING and EVERYONE but Lucy? Literally everything and everyone? Even bank combinations of numbers and the like. And why I phrased that so weirdly I’m not sure, but I did. DON’T QUESTION IT. There’s no way, though! Jack’s instinct from before would totally kick in, and the whole heavy reality would come crashing down. But let’s not focus on that. Let’s focus on the heartbreak I just felt when Sandra Bullock called Jack a “really good friend” which is basically like shoving a knife into his heart. And a knife into mine, if we’re being honest, WHICH WE ARE. DAMN IT, JACK, I LOVE YOU. Or Bill Pullman! I can’t tell the difference. But there is love involved. And ’90s rom-coms.

21. And then there’s poor Sandy Cohen’s fiancee

His REAL fiancee, Ashley, who, sure, is not the NICEST individual, but what a weird, terrible situation for her! I mean, weird because a) not only did she accept Sandy Cohen’s proposal over the phone on his answering machine, but b) she full-on gets dumped for Sandra Bullock who is lying to begin with. These two reasons also constitute the “terrible” part of the situation as well. Also, Peter just admitted to his brother that he’s never been faithful to a woman? So he cheated on her too?

OKAY WAIT NEWSFLASH, they had been broken up. But still! Very bizarre. I wish Ashley well. Good luck to you, Ashley.

22. How could Lucy marry Sandy Cohen when she loves Jack?

HOW. I am legitimately asking. I mean, yes, she is absolutely trapped. But Jack! That hair! THOSE EYES. Do you know how hard it is for me not to type 2525925258 emoticon hearts right now? I don’t think I could do it. I would have to drink too much wine and confess it all to Jack, and then break it off with Sandy Cohen because otherwise life would be torture. EVERY DAY it would be torture. Literally, because Jack would be my brother in law.

23. Why wouldn’t Sandy Cohen dress up?

You don’t HAVE to stay in your pajamas, I don’t think, if you’re in the hospital getting married. I’ll have to double check, but sources tell me (a.k.a. having been a human being) that you are allowed to PROBABLY put on a shirt and a tie if you are able to change your pajamas. I mean, just this once, right? Everyone else is dressed up. But NoooOOOOOoooo, Sandy Cohen wants “attention,” so he wears his blazer around him like a shawl. IF YOU CAN CHANGE YOUR PAJAMA TOP YOU CAN WEAR A BLAZER. I’m sorry. I’m yelling. And it’s not because I don’t love this movie because OBVIOUSLY I am IN love with it, but still. Still! Even just a plain dress shirt. Anything. Damn it, Sandy Cohen. You’re a lawyer for heaven’s sake.

24. “Why didn’t you say something?”

CLASSIC, Bill Pullman, asking the tough questions. And he has a point! Why DIDN’T she say something? To Jack, maybe, when they were almost kissing those two times? Or to anyone else? Just earlier? A NOTE. THAT’S WHY YOU SHOULD ALWAYS LEAVE A NOTE. I get that we got to the point of no return, but I think I’d have to say I’d changed my mind and had cold feet BEFORE I wore the white dress and arranged the wedding and accepted the literal proposal. SHE COULD HAVE SAID SHE NEEDED MORE TIME. That she got confused because she loved Jack. Say that! “I’m confused now, I’m sorry!” There! I did it. I solved the problem. More than, well, she did, with the perfect way she went about solving it . . . but whatever, you guys! I GOT THIS. #sobs

25. How bold is it though that Jack just proposes?

Bold in a good way, obviously, DUH. (I mean, in real life, I would probably freak out and be like, “We haven’t even kissed and we’ve only hung out for a week!” But in this movie? MY GOD. HORRAY.) Imagine though that your boyfriend and his ENTIRE FAMILY just showed up to propose? Whatever. I would love it. Especially if the family included the mom from Mary Poppins. I can pretend I wouldn’t love this BUT I LOVE IT. I DO I LOVE IT. I love Bill Pullman, I love Sandra Bullock, I love Saul. I even love Sandy Cohen. THIS MOVIE, YOU GUYS. And then Sandra Bullock and Bill Pullman go to Florence where she’s always wanted to go and SEE? THE HOLIDAY SEASON. What dreams may come. What Bill Pullmans may appear.

Okay, Bill Pullman, FINE. I will.

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  1. Julie Andrews is my favorite person ever, so I’ve seen Mary Poppins about a zillion times and I’ve seen this movie one more time than that and I never noticed that Elsie was the mom from Mary Poppins. You have blown my mind today!

  2. 1. Love. This. Movie. Sandra Bullock can do no wrong! (OK maybe that movie Premonition was terrible BUT she is still a goddess)
    2. Saying that the mom from Mary Poppins is your spirit animal is the most ridiculous/amazing/hilarious thing ever.
    3. Has anyone else seen the commercials for the new show Bill Pullman is in? He did not age well and it is devastating :/

  3. P.S. — Old Lady Movie Night is consistently one of the highlights of my week. I read it religiously and collapse on the floor in a trail of tears and laughter.

  4. Joe Jr. is definitely one of my favorite parts of WYWS. The whole trying on her shoes thing kills me. Also, does it ever bother you that Jack and Peter’s younger sister is like, SO much younger than them? I’m always trying to rationalize it when I watch this movie like, “Was she an oops baby or like, what?” And I’m totes in agreement on the whole “old kitschy Christmas” thing. It is THE BEST. I don’t want hip Christmas; I want tartan plaid and huge poinsettias and terrible sweaters and loud families!

  5. UH so not right about 90s tv theme songs. Are you that old? Full House, not Family Matters. The theme song is”As Days Go By” and they mention a newspaper in it, but no milkman like our favorite San Francisco family.

  6. This is HANDS DOWN my favorite movie of all time. And it has been since I was 9. It’s just so amazing. Every Christmas I make it a point to watch it (along with When Harry Met Sally).

  7. Today when I was driving to work 2 songs I love played back to back. And I thought that today couldn’t get any better. Then I turned on my computer and saw this. This is my favorite romantic comedy of all time. And you describing it made my heart fill with the song “This Will Be” and made me wish there was really a Bill Pullman for every girl. He’s actually so amazing in this movie he could make you laugh… and build you a chair. A CHAIR MADE WITH LOVE!
    Also, I love the grandmother Elsie. I can’t wait until I’m older and I can tell someone “I don’t drink anymore… but I don’t drink any less either” and then snap a photo of them with my camera!
    You are a girly movie soulmate! ♥

  8. I cherish this movie so much. It’s my Christmas staple, because of how almost realistic it is. I also want to point out the mom from ‘Mary Poppins’ is actually the Grandma in the film. I truly believe that Lucy and Jack’s interactions are pretty darn realistic, because I have experienced stuff like this. Except not the whole leaning thing, because that would have been great.

  9. Wow. You managed to, in a single article, highlight some of the best parts of what is indisputably one of the greatest Christmas movie of all time as well as make references to no fewer than 4 of the greatest shows/movies in history: Arrested Development (YOU SHOULD ALWAYS LEAVE A NOTE), Center Stage, 30 Rock (several times) and Dawsons Creek. Bravo.
    Also- two more things- Joe Jr. and the church scene. Best.scene.ever
    Great article!

  10. “For the record, Peter Gallagher will be known only as Sandy Cohen” bahaha! epic and always true

  11. This was beautiful. I don’t know how old I was when this movie came out, but my mom used to force us to watch a lot of Sandra Bullock movies when I was a kid. Even though I was probably like 8 or 9 (I’m almost 26 now) I had a HUGE crush on Bill Pullman. I even loved him in Sleepless in Seattle even though he was everything I don’t want in a man. But as Jack? Oh man. Be still my beating heart.

    And I’m going to steal your phrase and call the people I love “beautiful unicorn of a human being” whenever the mood strikes. Because, who doesn’t want to be a unicorn?

  12. Best movie ever. “Well look on the bright side, he’s got more room in his Jockey shorts!” The milkman, the paperboy, and evening TV was Full House though…and John Stamos deserves his own post with his questionable 90′s mullet and jean vests that even now make you swoon!

  13. This just made my entire week! Such a great movie, I love all the characters. Especially Saul, and Lucy’s landlord’s creeper son. Thank you Anne – your articles always make me smile.

    • Joe Jr. is the best! I can’t believe I forgot about him. The best part is that EVERYONE knows someone like him! Who thinks he invented tin foil and toilet paper and post-its. This movie=everything.

  14. This is my favorite movie. Period. I love Sandra, I love Christmas, I love 90s romcoms, I love Chicago, I love Sandra’s cat and her little crummy-but-so-cute apartment… I love that she is a single gal makin it work in the city. I watch it multiple times a year and I am sure I annoyingly know every line by heart. I loved reading this not only because most of the time I was agreeing with you, evening saying out loud, “Right!?!”, but also because I now know what movie I am watching tonight. Oh, and I have a mad 90s romcom crush on Bill Pullman. Nuff said.

  15. This was so wonderfully written! And I’ll say, I totally understand your CAPS madness. I felt as if I were speaking to myself in this, it was great.
    About the actual article, I happen to own this movie ON VHS!!! :o But I have to admit, upon reading the title I thought to myself, “My GOD, ‘old lady-movie night’ AND it’s a movie I own on VHS?! I’m only 21! Does that make me old now,” lol, of course not! I am simply a film junkie and proud of it(: Gahh, I just loved your writing. It reminds me of very much my own. Everything you stated was on point to my own pondering questions. Loved it.

  16. Love your article but gotta correct you on another point (since the Full House thing was already taken care of)
    Let’s Hear It For The Boy was sung by Deniece Williams.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NnuYhFRYbAw

  17. I worship at the alter of OLMN, and Anne T. for that matter, but it was the Full House theme song that wonders what ever happened to predictability. Family Matters acknowledges the fact that days, in fact, do go by: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ftLhANQxX0s
    #MICDROP #YOLO

    • Greatest use of #MICDROP #YOLO I have ever experienced. You go, Glen Coco.

      Anne T. Donahue | 11/08/2012 09:11 am
  18. I am a beautiful unicorn of a human being! I do believe we are rom-com soulmates – every time you write about a movie I know and love, I must read the play-by-play and pretend that I’m not sneaking onto Hellogiggles at work, but curled up on the couch with popcorn and wine. This one I haven’t seen, and I STILL loved/laughed/carried on. It’s officially on my to-do list.

  19. i started to tear up just while i was reading this! it really is the best. my favorite part is when she is finally confessing & she says ‘i fell in love with you’ & the dad (from everybody loves raymond) says ‘you fell in love with me?’ & she says ‘no, yes, all of you!’ oh! it makes my heart soar! nice work, Anne T. Donahue!

  20. This has got to be one of the best Christmas movies. It’s a must-watch every year in my family!