Sleepless in Seattle? More Like Heartless in Seattle…

January 16, 2009 at 2:13 pm (Random Thoughts, Virtual Gems)


WARNING!!! Since some of you might be faint at heart, I’m warning you what I’m about to say is paramount to romance treason, punishable only by taking away my romance writing badge, laptop, and copies of Romancing the Stone and The Princess Bride (both book and DVD.) Don’t say you weren’t warned.



About 2 weeks ago, I noticed Sleepless in Seattle on TV and ended up recording it to watch later. It’s the perfect movie to watch when doing a batch of ironing (or some similar mundane chore), plus Michael Hauge has referenced it in one of his seminars so I thought it’d be worth a second look, and not to be brushed under the rug, I remember really liking the movie.


So, some 15½ years later and the knowledge I’ve gained by writing, reading and getting older, I came to this conclusion.


sleepless312Annie is a bee-yatch.


And before the conspiracy theorists start burning up the internet, this has nothing to do with Meg Ryan. I would say this if any other actress played this character (though possibly not as annoying as Meg—okay, there. I said it.) Here’s how I came to that conclusion:



Step One: Annie is driving to Walter’s parents for Christmas and hears Sam on the radio, the first connection is made. No problem there.


Step Two: Annie obsesses about Sam, with mild prodding from her friend and editor Becky (played by a pre-nutsy Rosie O’Donnell). No problem there, either.


Step Two-and-a-half: Becky calls Annie in the middle of the night because Jonah (Sam’s son) is on the radio again, complaining that his dad is on a date and it’s not sitting well with Jonah. Annie goes downstairs, calls Becky back, and sneaks into the broom closet with the radio, where Walter (her freakin’ fiancée!) finds her. Annie lies to him and goes back to bed (with her freakin’ fiancée!) As you can tell, this is where I started to have problems.


Step Three: (And I warn you—here’s where the train seriously started to go off the track for this little engineer.) Annie tells Becky she’s decided to “do a story” on lonely hearts calling into radio shows, and Becky slyly says that she might need to travel somewhere to get a good take on it. Annie, using her newspaper credentials, stalks finds out Sam’s full name and address, bio and type of toothpaste he uses, then flies to Seattle to make some kind of contact with him, but before she goes, she lies to Walter and says she’s flying to Chicago for this piece. So not only is she lying about where she’s going, but what she’s doing (or hopes to be doing) once she gets there!


Step Four: Annie decides to accept Walter (how generous, she said dryly) and they go to dinner on Valentine’s Day at a beautiful restaurant with a view of the Empire State Building (where she’s supposed to meet Sam.) Annie finally comes clean and breaks it off with Walter, then rushes over to the ESB, meets Sam and Jonah, a love connection is made, and they walk off into the romantic New York Valentine’s Day sunset. While she is still sharing a room with Wasleeplesslter at The Drake Hotel. So, this skank is walking hand-in-hand with Sam down the street and he asks “Where are you staying?” and she says, “Er, I was sharing a room with my fiancée, who I dumped 15 minutes ago in the hopes that you were here, because I felt this connection with you and after lying to him for a month, finally decided to break it off. So, do you like Mexican food?”


Seriously! I was watching the part where she runs into the lobby, desperate to get up to the Observation Deck and fulfill her Heart’s Destiny, and the thought popped into my mind, “Yeah, but I wonder what Sam’s going to think when he finds out the selfish and cruel road she took to get here.” I mean, Annie wasn’t that great a chick that Sam is going to go cross-eyed with lust and not care that he could be the next link in Annie’s chain. How does he know she’s not going to move out to Seattle, read about some poor, lonely man in Dr. Abby, and hotfoot it after him? Thus I bestow the title of Heartless Bee-yatch to Annie Reed.


I know, I know—pretty harsh for a romance author. I asked Montana about it, and he suggested that Sam is such a vulnerable hero, we forgive anything in order to see him happy. (And Jonah, too.) But I have to tell you, in my head, that story has been completely rewritten, and Annie is left sad and alone at the Empire State Building, while Sam, Jonah, and Woman-I’ve-Written-In-To-Make-Sam-Deliriously-Happy walk off to live happily ever after.


See? I get to keep my badge.



  1. L.A. Mitchell said,

    I applaud you for taking a stand. I don’t think it’s cause to revoke our romance author’s card every time we don’t like something we’re supposed to like. And I agree, lying isn’t the most likable trait for a heroine, nor a flaw easily overcome.

  2. Marilyn Brant said,

    Pam, you won’t get any stone-throwing or card-revoking from me. I never liked this film. I remember thinking, “Wait, the only thing she has in common with his First Love is that she can peel an apple in one long strip? Huh. Guess that makes her perfect for him…” I felt sorry for Walter the whole time because he was being lied to and the main thing wrong with him was that he snored.

    Actually, the worst part of this movie is that I felt really cheated–not only by flawed character motivation and silly plot devices, but because I loved all of these actors…in different roles. Tom Hanks in almost anything else. Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally. Bill Pullman in While You Were Sleeping. And don’t even get me started on “You’ve Got Mail”–I have issues with that, too. So, I think the problem is with Meg and Tom in the same film. Hollywood should ban that combination :-).

  3. coffeegirl88 said,

    I liked the movie for the fluff that it is, but I’ve never thought it was some great love story. I think the part you’ve missed is you’re not suppose to like Walter. The problem is he does come across sympathetic, but I suspect if ANY other actor played him you wouldn’t have these issues.

    I agree Marilyn with “You’ve Got Mail” that’s a miserable story. I’ve watched it once and it left me cold.

    Now you want a love story, try “Crossing Delancy.”

  4. Pam said,

    L.A.–yeah, that lying was just too much. I know many romantic comedies are based on little white lies, but this just felt mean.

    Marilyn–I could even buy that there was some mystical connection between them (magic and signs and all), but how it was handled–yeech. And I completely agree with You’ve Got Mail. I’ll sign your Meg and Tom petition, though I think Hollywood has already figured it out! 😀

  5. Pam said,

    Coffeegirl–actually it’s not Walter. I get that we, the audience, are supposed to see that Walter and Annie are clearly not right for each other. And I have no problem with either of them trying to be with somebody who is their True Love. My problem came with Annie repeatedly lying to Walter, a good man who deserved respect. I adore Bill Pullman and have always loved the nerdy hero (which he plays here so perfectly), and I felt very sympathetic towards Walter. But, this is all just my opinion, so take it as that. We agree on You’ve Got Mail, so we’re halfway there!

    And thanks for the Crossing Delancy tip–I’ve never seen it and always love a good recommendation! 🙂

  6. Jennifer said,

    I will agree with not liking Sleepless in Seattle. I don’t think I’ve ever managed to watch it the whole way through but I mostly found it boring. It didn’t grip me at all. However, I will admit that I kinda like “You’ve Got Mail.” Not sure what this one does differently for me, but I find it more . . . entertaining, I guess.

  7. Pam said,

    Jennifer–I think it’s just a matter of what you like and tough noogies to the rest. Me? I also happen to really like Hudson Hawk with Bruce Willis. It’s just been fun to see the differing opinions! 🙂

  8. jenifer said,

    No stone throwing here! I will admit that it’s easy for me to watch Sleepless, but I dislike everything about it when I watch. Does that make me a masochist? Actually, I love Jonah and his friend. I’d like to see their story as adults. 🙂

    But yeah, Bill Pullman? I’m in love. And she doesn’t just lie to him, but she lies with another romance in her heart. I’m with you – two people who are together going off to find their true romance elsewhere can make for a great love story. But not when one lies to another so outright to do it.

    I’ll almost never channel surf away from it, but I don’t really like this movie. Weird, sure.

  9. Robin said,

    I liked Hudson Hawk too! I like all of Bruce’s movies. And guess what? His sister lives a few streets away from me. She’s really nice!

    Okay, it’s been a long while since I’ve watched the movie, but from your brilliant recap, Pam, I’ve got to agree with you. You nailed the whole Bee-yatch thing perfectly. And I love your ending. 🙂 I think you should do this again with another movie.

  10. pamwritesromance said,

    Jenifer–what a fabulous idea about Jonah and his friend. When do you start writing? 😉 And as far as Bill Pullman goes, you could set me in front of Independence Day and While You Were Sleeping for days and days, and I would be content.

    Robin–okay, Jenifer has now got me thinking–I’ve always loved Independence Day, especially the Jeff Goldblum character and his arc, so maybe that’ll be my next movie. Not a “Calling out the Bee-Yatch” post, but finding some really great arcs and themes in a big-budget action movie. But, then to be fair to Bruce (and his sister), I’ll have to do one of his! 😀

    And then maybe I can get Montana to start posting again. (HINT!!!)

  11. Heidi Betts said,

    No stones from me, either, since I’m too afraid of having them thrown at me for admitting I’m not a fan of movies like Love Actually & Notting Hill. They had their moments, I admit, but in general, they did nothing for me. And don’t even get me started on Bridget Jones. 😛

    But with Sleepless, I think a certain amount of “suspension of belief” is necessary, as well as forgiveness for the characters not being 100% noble. I thought the same thing about Sweet Home Alabama. I love it, but if you stop to think about it, Reese’s character is actually married all the years she’s living in NY & living with/sleeping with/being engaged to Patrick Dempsey. Sooo…

    Oh, & also on Sleepless, I always sort of felt that the real love story began at the very end when they finally MEET for the first time. All the rest was set-up & not very romanc-y, imo. A much better winter/Xmas romance is While You Were Sleeping! 😀

    Heidi Betts
    Mark your calendars…only 14 days left until you can get…
    TANGLED UP IN LOVE — on sale FEBRUARY 3rd!!!

  12. Caryn Caldwell said,

    That? Was hilarious. I have no tolerance for movies in which people betray the ones they’re with by making time with someone else instead. If she wasn’t into her fiancee, she should have broken it off with him, whether or not she felt a physical connection with her mystery man. Otherwise, she was just using him. And that, I think, is the big reason why I never liked that movie. Ever. I wanted to. I tried. But I never could.

    Know what other romance classic I never could fall in love with? Jerry McGuire. And that was before just looking at Tom Cruise totally creeped me out the way it does now.

  13. Pam said,

    Heidi–so is it just the British romantic comedies you’re not into or those particular three? Try About A Boy–yes, it’s Hugh, but better. 🙂

    Caryn–yup, liars are losers. (Hmm, there’s a bumper sticker.) And I can do Jerry McGuire, but mainly because I’m in girl love with Bonnie Hunt. But that’s it. 😉

  14. Betty said,

    i’m in girl love with Bonnie Hunt, too.
    Like Sleepless cuz I believe in the meant-to-be aspect.
    Love Pullman in While you were Sleeping…hellooo? liar, liar pants on fire! That was a GREAT movie based on one, big fat lie.
    Granted, no one got hurt, but the point in Sleepless was that Walter wasn’t hurt. he was more like, “Oh, okay. well, if that’s what you want…i’m cool with that.” I’m sure he found some fiesty lover of his own, who made him forget that he needed nose spray and tissues. LMAO.

  15. pamwritesromance said,

    Betty–Hi! Welcome! Anybody who has a girl crush on Bonnie Hunt is welcome anytime! And you have an interesting point with Sleepless vs. Sleeping (Ha–never realized the title similarities there!). I think I don’t like Annie because aside from having a supportive family and friends, she has a sweet fiancee and, to me, broke her promise to Walter (when she accepted his proposal) by her actions and lying. With Lucy in Sleeping, she has absolutely nobody and lies about being Peter’s fiancee because she so wants to belong to anybody, even if it’s a man she has a crush on who’s in a coma. (And she falls in love with his family even more than him.) No promises were made between them, therefore no promises were broken. It’s not a malicious lie like Annie’s was–Annie knew (or should have) she was wrong and Walter would probably be hurt. Lucy’s lie, where wrong, really didn’t hurt anybody except herself.

    I am going to give this some serious thought and may end up doing a separate post about it–great comments!

    All that being said, I like the idea of Walter getting a feisty lover of his own. We have so got to re-write the end of this movie! 😉

  16. Caryn Caldwell said,

    I think a big difference with While You Were Sleeping is that the lie began as a misunderstanding, and she carried through with it because the family was so sad over Peter’s accident that she couldn’t disappoint them by telling them that she wasn’t actually engaged to him, too. Though I can see how she would also be tempted by the idea of having a family, no matter how temporary. So in that case she was lying for good reasons and, again, without malicious or selfish intent. I think that’s why I, at least, can enjoy While You Were Sleeping while I can’t enjoy Sleepless in Seattle.

    Just had to jump in, since I’ve long enjoyed While You Were Sleeping and had already given the lying part of it some thought. 😀

  17. Heidi Betts said,

    Wow, Pam. I don’t like About a Boy, either, & until you mentioned it, I didn’t *think* I had anything against British comedies/films. Gads, I love the Brits when it comes to everything else. The accents make me melt. I could listen to Gordon Ramsay shout at people all day long. But I’m having a really hard time coming up with a single British movie I like…& now I”m feeling guilty about it. Aack!

    And Betty, While You Were Sleeping may have been one big, fat lie, but none of those lies were based on betrayal. No one was married & cheating, no one was already engaged or deeply involved even as they lusted after someone else. The lies were basically innocent, which is what made the movie work so well.

    Heidi (who still loves Sweet Home Alabama, regardless of the technical infidelity involved. :-p)
    Books Make Great Gifts. Spread the Word!

  18. jenifer said,

    Hmm, as far as British movies go, I love About A Boy, Notting Hill, and not so much on Love, Actually. Bridget Jones is okay.

    But what about Calendar Girls, The Waking of Ned Devine, Breakfast on Pluto (if you haven’t seen this, I highly recommend checking it out – it’s weird, but I loved it), and for silly British, Shaun of the Dead, and Hot Fuzz?

  19. jenifer said,

    Okay, and now I’m realizing that when I said Breakfast on Pluto, I meant Kinky Boots. That’s a good British movie. I think I liked Breakfast on Pluto also, but I don’t remember it, and reading the synopsis isn’t jarring any memories, so watch at your own risk. 🙂

  20. pamwritesromance said,

    Caryn–glad you jumped in! Betty had really caused me some Deep Thoughts about it, and it’s been great to hear more opinions. And given that lying is at the base of so many romantic comedies, it really brings up some interesting questions.

    Heidi–more lying discussion. I love it! And if you love Gordon Ramsey, don’t feel guilty about not liking any Brit movies. We’ll find one for you, and the Ramsey love gets you a pass! (Hell’s Kitchen starts next week, BTW!)

  21. pamwritesromance said,

    Jenifer–yes, Simon Pegg should be bronzed, except then he couldn’t make any more movies like Shaun of the Dead or Hot Fuzz. And heading in a Brit direction, pre-Madonna Guy Ritchie movies are awesome! Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels is just stunning and Snatch, with Brad Pitt’s amazing portrayal of a gypsy bare-knuckle fighter? Brava!

    Jenifer–if Heidi doesn’t bite on a movie titled Kinky Boots, I’m going to have to eat my computer. 😉

  22. pamwritesromance said,

    P.S. No, I’m not that dense–yes, I will be doing more movie posts. Whee!

  23. jenifer said,

    Pam – I was thinking the same thing about Heidi and Kinky Boots. 🙂

  24. Heidi Betts said,

    Funny you should say loving Gordon Ramsay gets me a free pass because I was actually planning to *give* him one. *vbg* (DVR already set for next week’s H’sK premiere, btw!)

    And I’ve heard of Kinky Boots, but haven’t actually seen it. I hear it’s one of Mistress Heidi’s favorites, tho, so I’m going to have to make a note to watch it soon. 😉

    And Shaun of the Dead–yes, yes, yes! Haven’t seen Hot Fuzz yet, but I do get a kick out of most British humor. Even tho they’re old, I still love Are You Being Served? & Keeping Up Appearances. And let us not forget the late, great Benny Hill. (Oh, god, did I just out myself, age-wise? 8) )

    Books Make Great Gifts. Spread the Word!

  25. Michelle said,

    Okay, I know this thread is ages old and I have read what everyone has to say about the lie in Sleepless. But the fact is it’s real. What you have left out is that the doubt about Walter is way before the radio show with Sam. She is in the attic with her mother in her grandmothers wedding dress when it’s obvious she has rationalized her engagement to Walter. It’s not love it’s not passion it’s wow he is a good guy and I could do worse. No magic. Who of us has not been with a man who was kind and sweet and had everything on paper that a woman is supposed to want, but there was no heat? I have been there done that. Let go of a man who was wonderful, but in spite of being wonderful was not THE man. The film never allows infidelity, and she admits all to Walter before the lights change on the Empire State Building. She was supposed to already be there, but did not go. She choose Walter, but knew he was not the love she should be with and he knew she was not the love he desired. Hence his line of marriage being hard enough without such low expectations. Then it was the red heart in the windows, she says I have to go, it’s a sign. Walter says who needed a sign? In a sense telling Anne you have to go. Now as well, I have to say, who did not root for Noah in The Notebook? Talk about a lie. She went to see him knew what she was doing and they had sex. But they were meant to be together. The real lie would be not to change the coarse of your life and marry the one who was great on paper, instead of in your heart. Not so much a lie as the evolution to the truth.

    I broke a man’s heart when I ended our engagement, but now he is happily married with two beautiful children and a wife he adores. And all is right in the world as it should be. I tried to lie to myself and say I could be happy with him but thank god I had the guts to get out.

    Call me crazy but the road to the truth is not always without detour, and if there is a time for that detour, it is BEFORE the I do.

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