A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Sleepless in Seattle is an Oscar-nominated 1993 romantic "dramedy" about a widower whose son calls a relationship-centered talk show to help him find love. Families in the early stages of grieving the death of a loved one in the family should avoid this movie, as it centers on a man whose wife passed young to cancer, and he's still trying to cope from day to day. There is some open talk of sex between the father and the young boy. In a moment of anger and frustration, Sam the father tells his son that the reason he's trying to date a woman he's not very interested is because, "I'm getting laid." He then talks of how he has slept with eight women his entire life. In an earlier scene, Jonah asks about his father having sex; when Sam asks how Jonah knows about sex, he mentions how a friend has cable. Infrequent profanity: "s--t."
What's the story?
In SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE, young Jonah wants his widowed dad, Sam (Tom Hanks), to find a new wife. When Jonah calls up a radio talk show and starts talking to the host about how lonely his dad is, Sam eventually gets on the line and pours his heart out. Across the country, Annie (Meg Ryan) hears Sam and eventually comes to believe they're destined for each other, even though she's engaged to nice-but-dull Walter (Bill Pullman). Sam becomes a sensation after the radio show, and multitudes of women send him love letters. With some parallels to the classic 1957 romance An Affair to Remember, this sweet romance follows Annie as she heads to Seattle to meet the man of her dreams.
Is it any good?
This is a throwback to the great romantic comedies of the '30s and '40s. It's well written if a tad implausible: a fairy tale that encourages viewers to believe that true love and destiny will conquer all obstacles. Sleepless in Seattle's structure is a little frustrating; the two main characters spend almost the entire film apart. In less skilled hands, their separate stories could have fallen flat, but first-time director Nora Ephron manages to pull it off.
Great casting helps. Tom Hanks has never been more appealing and vulnerable, and Meg Ryan is the embodiment of impetuous romance. Rosie O'Donnell and Rob Reiner inject some tart humor as their sidekicks, making sure the story never becomes overly sentimental. There aren't many movies that parents can watch with older kids; this is one of the rare exceptions. Adults will enjoy the star-crossed romance, and kids will respond to Jonah's predicament. They'll also like the interactions between Jonah and his friend Jessica, a wise and very sarcastic little girl.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Jessica and Jonah mean well, but hide the truth from their parents when conspiring to get Jonah to New Your City in their attempt to get Annie and Sam together in Sleepless in Seattle. Was what they did right? How could they have handled this and still been truthful with their parents?
Sleepless in Seattle was a romantic movie that seems to hearken back to a time when movie pairs from the '30s and '40s brought romance to the silver screen. What are some examples of movie pairs known for their work together in romantic movies, past and present? What do you think is the enduring appeal of these movies?
Are romantic movies entertaining because they outline the ups and downs of trying to find and keep love, or does it set unrealistic expectations for those who want to believe in the romantic "happily ever after"-type ending?
For kids who love rom-coms
Our editors recommend
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.