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I’ve noticed that many comedies, even romantic comedies, get a lot of humor from cruelty: just look at all the painful things that happen to the male protagonist in There’s Something About Mary, for instance. It’s a variation of slapstick humor, I suppose; the equivalent of laughing at someone slipping on a banana peel or getting a pie in the face. When Harry Met Sally approaches romantic comedy from another direction, showing the humor in the interactions among likable, sympathetic, all-too-human characters with all the foibles and obsessions and everyday dilemmas that we can recognize as familiar from our own lives. The result? A comedy that’s both funny and substantial, that rings true as a love story while taking a wry look at the ups and downs of love and life in modern society.  

When Harry Met Sally: Special Edition
Movie
Harry (Billy Crystal) and Sally (Meg Ryan) are obviously at the center of the film. From the moment they meet, sharing a road trip from Chicago to New York after they graduate from college, sparks fly as two very different views of love and life collide. Nonetheless, chance keeps their paths crossing, and they become the best of friends.... but can friendship and love, not to mention friendship, love, and sex, ever successfully come together?

When Harry Met Sally demands quite a lot from its cast, as the overall plausibility of the film depends on the actors convincingly portraying the gradual emotional changes and maturing that the characters experience over the course of the years. Crystal and Ryan pull off outstanding performances here, making utterly believable and sympathetic characters, but it’s also worth noting the excellent supporting roles played by Carrie Fisher and Bruno Kirby, as Sally and Harry’s same-sex best friends.

Kudos go to writer Nora Ephron for her Oscar-nominated screenplay, which keeps the film moving at a brisk and engaging pace. The movie is creatively structured, interspersing the story of Harry and Sally with short clips from “interviews” of older couples telling the stories of how they first met. These couples are the icing on the cake, fitting just perfectly into the overall tone of the movie.

When Harry Met Sally: Special Edition
Video
MGM has done the right thing with this special edition of When Harry Met Sally, with a superb anamorphically-enhanced 1.85:1 transfer replacing the previous non-anamorphic letterbox version. The picture is a treat to look at; it’s clear and sharp, with vibrant colors and no noise.

Audio
As a dialogue-driven comedy, When Harry Met Sally doesn’t put much of a strain on the sound capacity of a DVD, so the Dolby 2.0 track is fine for the job. The musical score, with songs by Harry Connick, Jr., is kept in balance with the dialogue, and the dialogue itself is nicely clear.

Extras
MGM has put together a reasonable package of extras for this special edition. A thirty-five minute documentary titled “How Harry Met Sally” takes a look at the genesis and development of the film through interviews with the director, writer, and cast. It’s a pretty decent piece, offering insights into how director Rob Reiner and writer Nora Ephron drew from their own experiences and personalities to create the characters and predicament of Harry and Sally.

The remaining special features include an audio commentary track with Rob Reiner, seven minutes of deleted scenes, a music video, and trailers for When Harry Met Sally, The Princess Bride, and This Is Spinal Tap.

When Harry Met Sally: Special Edition
Overall
When Harry Met Sally is sweet and charming without being sappy. It’s a movie that has weathered twelve years without fading a bit, and will continue to be just as funny in years to come, because its humor comes not from pop cultural references (who will be laughing at Scary Movie in ten years?) but on the humor in well-drawn, very human characters. With the high-quality DVD transfer of this special edition, this is one comedy that’s well worth picking up.


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