Photo: Columbia Pictures/Courtesy Neal Peters Collection
From the opening bars of "It Had to Be You" to the final scene of pure, contented love, When Harry Met Sally is 96 minutes of pure romantic comedy gold. Whether you're watching Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal's will-they-or-won't-they push-pull of banter for the first time or you know the lines (even the famous Katz's deli scene) by heart, one thing about the now-iconic film always rings loud and clear: It's one of the most precise commentaries on love, marriage, and friendship out there. Which is why, on the 25th anniversary of its premiere, we're plucking out the moments that feel just as relevant today as the day it came out.
1. You love who you love, in spite of (or because) their imperfections.
There's not much plot to spoil after two-and-a-half decades, but in case there is, spoiler alert: The main characters, Harry Burns and Sally Albright, get together at the end. Even though she's a lovable high maintenance journalist and he's a curmudgeonly political consultant, they meet in the middle at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve after Harry realizes that Sally is the love his life. His speech, given after running outside in the cold to get to her, still warms our hearts:
"I love that you get cold when it's 71 degrees out. I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich. I love that you get a little crinkle above your nose when you're looking at me like I'm nuts. I love that after I spend the day with you, I can still smell your perfume on my clothes. And I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night. And it's not because I'm lonely, and it's not because it's New Year's Eve. I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible."
2. Platonic, opposite-sex friends might not exist.
If you're firmly part of that camp, you probably love this movie. The film unpacks the stereotype that men and women can't be friends because the "sex part" always gets in the way, and ultimately determines that the rule holds. Check out what Harry said when Sally calls him out on seemingly going back on his long-ago declaration that there is no such thing as "just friends."
"No, no, no, I never said that...Yes, that's right, they can't be friends. Unless both of them are involved with other people, then they can...This is an amendment to the earlier rule. If the two people are in relationships, the pressure of possible involvement is lifted... That doesn't work either, because what happens then is, the person you're involved with can't understand why you need to be friends with the person you're just friends with. Like it means something is missing from the relationship and why do you have to go outside to get it? And when you say 'No, no, no it's not true, nothing is missing from the relationship,' the person you're involved with then accuses you of being secretly attracted to the person you're just friends with, which you probably are. I mean, come on, who the hell are we kidding, let's face it. Which brings us back to the earlier rule before the amendment, which is men and women can't be friends."
3. Don't get fooled.
Presented without further comment:
4. Be careful of taking someone to the airport.
It's an interesting concept to consider:
Harry Burns: "You take someone to the airport, its clearly the beginning of the relationship. That's why I have never taken anyone to the airport at the beginning of a relationship."
Sally Albright: "Why?"
Harry Burns: "Because eventually things move on and you don't take someone to the airport and I never wanted anyone to say to me, 'How come you never take me to the airport anymore?'"
5. Always, always, always look to longtime-married couples for advice.
The adorable vignettes of older couples sharing stories of how they met is by far the highlight out of many bright spots. Though the stories are relayed by actors, the content was taken from real couples. Watch a few of our favorites and relish in the time-honored wisdom.