No More Pepper in Her Paprikash

The world of film is a little less sincere today. Nora Ephron died yesterday, at 71. No, she’s not so much a SlumberPartyMovie Icon-TM. But I DID watch “When Harry Met Sally…” at my share of overnights as a teenager, and I just want to make something clear to the entire world: “I’ll have what she’s having” is totally NOT the best line in the movie, and after the first two viewings, you won’t even laugh at it anymore; two viewings after that, you’ll shake your head in irritation that Meg Ryan’s megagasm (and the terrific guess-what-Harry-you’re-no-great-shakes-in-bed conversation that preceded it) was upstaged by a Catskills line that’s as predictable as coffee and cake, or maybe  “Take my wife, please.”

And Nora Ephron didn’t even write the line. Billy Crystal supplied it as an aside (hence the Catskills). Which is REALLY obnoxious, because even in her obituaries, people quote THAT line, instead of, say, “I think I loved the IDEA of him,” which is one of the best lines about doomed relationships ever written. Or “Ride me, big Sheldon,” or ” You look like a normal person but actually you are the angel of death,” or the fight about the wagon wheel coffee table, or “Yes, and babyfishmouth is sweeping the nation,” which, for some reason, is edited out of some TV versions.

So Nora Ephron’s intelligent, poignant script has been wailed out the window in favor of a one-off that’s barely amusing in repeated viewings. It’s no wonder she became a director.

Which brings me to one of MY favorite Nora Ephron scenes. “Sleepless in Seattle” was one of those movies at which I wept, then I tsked as a drippy chick flick, and then last year, while I was pregnant with my second daughter and taking a weekend trip out of town–in the redwoods, and it poured rain the entire time, but we had TNT–I caught “Sleepless in Seattle” again. And I wept AGAIN, only not for the romance, but for the achingly sweet relationship between Jonah and his dad. The kid’s a wonderful actor, and Tom Hanks is Tom Hanks as I remembered him from the 1980s, when he was still the Best Boyfriend Ever. Watch the scene when Jonah wakes up from a nightmare and just TRY not to cry.

The moment I always remembered from the movie is not between Jonah and Sam, though. In fact–I almost hesitate to say it–it’s about how chicks like chick flicks and dudes like dude movies. But it’s also about friends hanging out and talking about movies. Which I think is fitting for this blog.

(Incidentally, my husband ALSO teared up watching Jonah and his dad together, as I bet Nora knew they would. And damn it, this scene is funny.)

4 responses to “No More Pepper in Her Paprikash

  1. I’ll go even further and say that I liked You’ve Got Mail and I really liked the scene when he goes to her apartment when she has a cold, and it’s a MESS! How often do you see an accurate depiction of an apartment in a rom com?

  2. I only saw “You’ve Got Mail” twice, I think–mainly because that was the movie where Meg Ryan started realizing How Adorable she was, and she grated on me a bit. Next time it’s on TV I’ll watch it again!

  3. Oh and you’re right about WHMS! It should be remembered for the scene where they sing Surrey with a Fringe on Top and his ex walks in.

  4. I just thought of a great line from that stand-up comedy movie she wrote. “Your children don’t want you happy. If they had the choice between half-way around the world or in the next room, miserable…they’ll take in the next room every time.” I’m not getting it quite right…but it stuck with me.

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