Sleepless In Seattle

Details At A Glance

Category Romantic Comedy Theatrical Trailer(s) No
Rating Other Trailer(s) 1
Running Time 101 minutes Commentary Tracks None
RSDL/Flipper No/No Other Extras None
Region 4    
Distributor Columbia Tristar    
RRP $34.95    

Pan & Scan/Full Frame No MPEG 2.0 
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Dolby Digital No
16x9 Enhancement Yes Soundtrack Languages English
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 1.85:1    
Macrovision Yes    
Subtitles English 

Plot Synopsis

    Tom Hanks (Sam Baldwin) and Meg Ryan (Annie Reed) star in this movie which is a tribute to An Affair To Remember. Sam is an architect who has been recently widowed (?widowered), his wife having died very young of cancer. This leaves him devastated, and as a result of this, he and his son move from Chicago to Seattle to get away from his painful memories (and from his well-meaning work acquaintances).

    After about eighteen months, his son Jonah, (Ross Mallinger) rings a radio station on Christmas Eve saying that his father needs a new wife because he is very sad and depressed. Dr Marcia Fieldstone (a talkback radio psychologist) coerces Sam onto the radio where he speaks of his feelings of loss and loneliness, and how much he loved his wife. Annie, who works as a journalist, hears this call, and instantly connects with Sam. Unfortunately, she is engaged to Walter(Bill Pullman) at the time.

    As a result of this phone call, the radio station, and consequently Sam, is inundated with letters from anonymous women all wanting to meet with him/marry him/have sex with him. These letters are screened by Sam's son, Jonah. Simultaneous to this, Sam decides that it is time for him to get 'back in the saddle again', so to speak, and begins to date Victoria, a woman with a laugh that sounds like a hyaena, and whom Jonah thoroughly disapproves of.

    Annie decides that she wants to meet with Sam, and writes him a letter, but she subsequently screws this up and throws it away before sending it. Her flatmate Becky (Rosie O'Donnell) retrieves the letter and secretly posts it on her behalf. Jonah really likes Annie's letter, and wants his father to meet her, but he declines. Jonah writes back to Annie (pretending to be his father) asking her to meet him on the Empire State Building on Valentine's Day. Jonah being only ten years old, writes the letter in a somewhat childish fashion, and Annie resolves to forget about Sam.

    Sam and Victoria make plans to have a weekend together alone for Valentine's Day, and this prompts Jonah to call back the radio station in a state of great anxiety. Annie hears this call, and is prompted to do some detective work to track Sam down on the pretext of writing a story for her newspaper. She flies off to Seattle to try to meet him, sees him from a distance, but just misses out on meeting him in a scene taken more-or-less directly from An Affair To Remember. She then flies back to New York and once again resolves to forget about Sam and concentrate her attentions on Walter.

    Jonah, with the help of a new-found friend of his (Jessica), books a flight from Seattle to New York on Valentine's Day and ends up on top of the Empire State Building. Tom discovers Jonah's absence just before leaving for his dirty weekend, and he also flies to New York to try and find him, which he does, just on closing time at the Empire State Building. Meanwhile, Annie is having dinner with Walter, and sees the Empire State Building light up as a Valentine. This prompts her to go to the Empire State Building, and in a guaranteed tear-jerker ending meets Sam after several Hollywood-style near misses.

    Make sure you have plenty of Kleenex ready because the ladies are going to blubber, especially during this end scene. If you fancy yourself as a SNAG then you should blubber here too, assuming you didn't blubber during the Dirty Dozen scene ('it was sooo sad'). Me, I'm waiting for the sequel (Sleepless in Seattle II: The Divorce) - now THAT'LL be a tear-jerker.

Transfer Quality


    As with all Columbia Tristar DVDs, the picture quality of this DVD is of a high standard. This transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, 16x9 enhanced. Colours were generally bright, clear and well-saturated throughout. There was quite a marked absence of noise in the darker scenes compared with the NTSC laserdisc version of this title, though this is something that is common to all DVDs. Blacks are really deep black, with no loss of shadow detail in the darker scenes. I felt that a few of the scenes were transferred with slightly excessive contrast, and some with perhaps a slightly high black level, but this is nit-picking. There were no visible MPEG artefacts that I could see.


The audio was a 4 channel matrix mix. The music for this movie is a highlight - it uses many old standards from the 30s, 40s and 50s, and they all sound very good with no hiss or pops audible. Dialogue was generally always clear and intelligible. There was little use of the surrounds, but what do you expect for a dialogue- and music-driven movie? One specific comment I feel I should make about this release is the fact that the opening scene dialogue seemed a little rushed, which is an artefact of the 4% speed-up that PAL video transfers suffer from. This is the first time that I have specifically noticed anything like this in a PAL release. I noted this before I compared it to the NTSC laserdisc version, not after.


There are no extras on this disc, just the standard Columbia Tristar teaser trailer. I guess we can forgive them for the moment, considering the excellent transfer quality of their releases, though a director's commentary would have been interesting for this title, especially considering the many parallels between this movie and An Affair To Remember. An Isolated Music Score would have been good, too, considering that the music is excellent and worth buying the soundtrack for (I did).


This is a story that your wife/partner will love, and that's important when you need to sneak past that large purchase of action DVDs (here honey, here's a present for you (and by the way I just spent $150 on DVDs) worked for me). It's a guaranteed tear-jerker (I'll admit to at least a few tears at the end), and the music is wonderfully nostalgic. The movie never quite gets too syrupy-sweet, though it does come close in places. I for one would definitely define this as a "chick flick" or a "date flick". The overall quality of the DVD is high, though not spectacular. It's a pity that there are no extras (c'mon Columbia Tristar). My favourite scene was the scene where Sam and his friend Jay comment on the tear-jerker nature of the end of The Dirty Dozen. This has to be one of my all-time favourite funny movie scenes. It has me rolling around laughing every time I see it.

Ratings (out of 5)

Extras nil

Michael Demtschyna
3rd September 1998

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-505, using S-Video output
Display Loewe Art-95 95cm direct view CRT in 16:9 mode, via the S-Video input. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder AMC AV-81HT Prologic/THX decoder. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Amplification 2 x EA Playmaster 100W per channel stereo amplifiers for Left, Right, Left Rear and Right Rear; Philips 360 50W per channel stereo amplifier for Centre and Subwoofer
Speakers Philips S2000 speakers for Left, Right; Polk Audio CS-100 Centre Speaker; Apex AS-123 speakers for Left Rear and Right Rear; Yamaha B100-115SE subwoofer