My Review of ‘While You Were Sleeping’ (1995)

Rather than write a holiday round up, I thought I’d focus on one movie in particular that fits the season in more ways than one.

Given the ridiculous levels of stress we’ve endured this year, what better form of distraction than a romantic comedy set during the year-end holidays? This one hits all the right emotional notes without overplaying them.

The premise, admittedly, is hardly realistic. A lonely, single subway token collector in Chicago (played by Sandra Bullock) harbors a secret crush on a regular male commuter. She sees him every day, but knows nothing about him. And, at some point, she witnesses this tall, dark, and handsome stranger (played by tall, dark, and handsome Peter Gallagher) being shoved by muggers onto the train tracks. Lucy (that’s the token taker’s name) emerges from her booth and rescues him before the L-train turns him into a tall, dead, and not-so-handsome corpse.

Image via The Plaid Sparrow.

But he falls with a thud into a coma. So Lucy goes with tall, dark, and handsome guy (a.k.a., TDHG) (Whose name is Peter Callagher — gosh, where did they come up with that one? 🙂 ) to the hospital, and the nurse overhears her mutter something about marrying him. The nurse then tells the family that Lucy’s his fianceé. And Lucy kinda fails to correct this incorrect rumor.

I’m probably making this sound a bit ridiculous, but the movie works. And part of the reason it works so well is due to the backstory of Lucy’s character. We see a single woman stuck in a dead-end job, missing her dead father, and longing to see the world. Along with her dinners spent alone at home (in her little apartment) with only a cat for company. It’s the kind of role Sandra Bullock excels at playing. This woman truly deserves a freaking break.

Image via The Plaid Sparrow.

But there’s more, of course. There’s TDHG’s family to deal with. And they brought aboard some great character actors to fill out these parts. For it turns out that TDHG has a brother, who also happens to be single. His name is Jack and he’s played by Bill Pullman, who does “regular good guy” so well. He’s a bit skeptical about the whole deal between Lucy and his brother. In other words, he doesn’t quite believe her.

Image via The Plaid Sparrow.

The cast also includes Peter Boyle, Glynis Johns, and Jack Warden (who ends up being Lucy’s only confidante within the family about the mess created by her wishful thinking aloud). But — spoiler alert! — love triumphs in the end.

Image via The Plaid Sparrow.

The result is a sweet, funny, rom-com that’s suitable for the whole family — assuming a PG rating is family-friendly. Just the kind of movie we need to soothe almost a year’s worth of Zoom meetings and masked, well-spaced outings.

Treat yourself to this one, if you’re looking for a break from the news, the Internet, and every other stressor inflicted on us in 2020.

Image via Tech Hive.

Directed by John Turtletaub
Produced by Roger Bimbaum and Joe Roth
Written by Daniel G. Sullivan and Fredric Lebow

PS: Presenting all the best movies to stream during the year-end holidays! 🙂




This publication is a mix of real and sardonic movie reviews. I also feature public domain films with snarky captions in my awkward version of MST3K.

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Debbi Mack

Debbi Mack

New York Times bestselling author of seven novels, including the Sam McRae Mystery series. Screenwriter, podcaster, and blogger. My website:

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