Ooofah! Yesterday was the longest school day I've had since the spring musical and frankly, I think its too early in the year yet for me to be that busy. I held the second round of auditions for our annual talent show last night and had a whopping 27 acts to auditions before the night was over, which kept me at the school till 6pm. I was glad to have such a fantastic turn out, considering that over the two days we had 35 acts try out which is a record for as long as I've been here. The disappointing thing was that I had to cut nearly 12 acts for time's sake and because some of them simply didn't impress as much as other acts. I know there were a lot of disappointed kids today but hopefully this year's show will be one of our best ever due to the sheer number of excellent kids who did try out. I suppose disappointment is part of the holidays just as much as happiness is, because for every child or adult who gets a Christmas wish there are several who do not. That makes for a fitting transition into today's film because it is about disappointment and not getting what you want for Christmas...however it is also realizing that you got what you didn't realize you needed. It is a film about romance and laughing at life's bum-raps, but also one about appreciating family and togetherness at the holidays. It is also notable for being one of the films that launched Sandra Bullock into stardom. So let's take a ride on the rocky train of love and find out what happened While You Were Sleeping.
Lucy Moderatz is a lonely token collector for the Chicago Transit Authority who is constantly working for other people who have families to spend holidays with. Lucy has no family to speak of and so her boss and co-workers see it as fair to depend on her to cover for them when they cannot work. As it is approaching Christmas, Lucy is again asked to cancel her plans so that she can come in to work on Christmas Day and she is dreading it. The only bright spot of her day is a single business man who stops at her counter everyday to drop off a token and ride to work. She slowly develops a strong crush on him and finds herself looking forward to their brief exchanges each day (though they never speak or interact aside from money changing hands). On Christmas Day, the man shows up and gets mugged on the platform and then pushed onto the tracks where he is struck unconscious. Lucy dives in after him and saves him from being run over by the train, then she rides along with him to the hospital. They won't let her in to see him but a nurse overhears her musing to herself that she wanted to marry him and thinks that Lucy is his fiancee. When the family of the man, Peter Callahan, shows up they are told that she is his fiancee and they immediately make an effort to make her feel wanted and welcome in their family. Amused and charmed by their eccentric and loving antics, Lucy allows herself to keep up the illusion while Peter stays in a coma because she realizes how much she has needed a family to be a part of. Complications arise, however, when Peter's brother Jack questions the validity of her story...and when Lucy finds herself falling for Jack.
While You Were Sleeping is one of those comedies, like Shakespeare, whose plot rests solely on the conceit that someone could clear up all the misunderstandings and misconceptions if they simply explained the truth. If you can't buy the reason why they can't, then the plot quickly crumbles into unbelievability and the audience loses interest. Luckily, Bullock makes Lucy so likable and sweet that we are rooting for her not to reveal the truth about her connection to Peter...and the added element of a weak-hearted grandmother in the clan helps keep her guilt from letting her fess up. It sails along on it's plot concept effortlessly and with a buoyancy that almost makes you wish it would never end. The actors playing the Callahans are also a delight, combining annoying and endearing qualities into their characters that make them a wonderful family and one whom anyone would feel honored to be a part of. This isn't just a film about a woman falling in love with a man, it's about a woman falling in love with a family and wanting to be a part of it...discoving what was really missing from her life. That, my friends, is a great reason to watch this film at Christmas.