Sunday, July 22, 2012

Weird, Unimportant Coincidences

[Spoiler Alert:  If you’ve never seen Sleepless in Seattle or Field of Dreams, and if you think you may someday, and if you don’t want any information about either one before you do, and if you somehow have never encountered any other spoilers about these movies that are now 20-ish years old… you may actually learn a very little something about these movies in this post. Very little. But something.]

As my BFF pointed out recently, I’ve been in a bit of a nostalgic mood lately. One of the results of this all-encompassing nostalgia is that I’ve spent time lately introducing my children to some of the classic movies of my youth. E.T. Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Star Wars. Ghost Busters. Black Stallion.

It’s been fun seeing them fall in love with these movies that captured my imagination when I was young, and it’s also been interesting to see these films through their fresh eyes. Some of the observations have been enlightening or even funny. For instance, there are scenes in E.T. that involve a rotary phone. Many kids these days aren’t fully familiar with original touch-tone phones that connect to land lines, and even land line phones often have cordless headsets, so explaining a rotary phone circa 1980 was a fun challenge.

Last weekend, I had a late evening “sleepover” with my kids in our basement playroom. The kids thought this was the most fantastic thing ever.  Kids tend to think sleeping anywhere but their own beds is the best thing ever, really. Anyway, I had one rule: the only movie we would watch would be a “Mommy movie.” I knew they absolutely would not fall asleep if we watched a kids’ movie, and I assumed that if we put on a romantic comedy or light drama, the kids would drift off.

After flipping through the channels, I happened upon the last maybe half hour of one of the best, sweetest romantic comedies of all time, Sleepless in Seattle. I took a moment to give the kids a quick overview of what the movie was about, and then we settled in to watch. By the time I was done with my kid-friendly film synopsis, the movie was at the scene where the son Jonah’s little friend Jessica helps him secure a seat on a plane to New York. To my happy surprise, the kids watched raptly until the end and were giddy with excitement when Sam and Annie finally met at the end.

Bear (smiling ear to ear):  Mommy! Will they get married?
Me:  I don’t know, baby.
Bear:  I think they will. They have to. This is so great!

Well, last night I held another sleepover with the kids. This time I was determined to show the kids a complete, start-to-finish Mommy movie.  I gave the kids a choice between my all-time-favorite movie, Field of Dreams, and Sleepless in Seattle (so they could see how it begins). After some debate, the kids agreed they wanted to see Field of Dreams (Ballerina’s first choice) first and Sleepless in Seattle (Bear’s first choice) second or the following day. 

We settled in – the kids in their sleeping bags on our couches, I on a “bed” of couch cushions laid out on the floor – and turned on Field of Dreams.  Ballerina zonked out about halfway through the movie, but Bear was rapt and fascinated throughout.  He was crushed for Doc Graham after he left the field – sacrificed his place on the field, in truth – to save Ray’s daughter, Karin, from choking on a hot dog. Bear felt indignant at the end when Terry was invited “out” with the ball players but Ray was not, he asked over and over during the last scene between John and Ray, “Do either of them know John is his dad? Do they know yet?” and he quietly cheered when Ray called out to John, “Hey… Dad? You wanna have a catch?”

After the movie was done, Bear asked if we could start Sleepless in Seattle.  It was late, and Bear was sick, but I thought, “Why not?” and put the movie on. About ten minutes in, Bear yawned and the following exchange happened:

Bear:  When does Karin show up?
Me:  Um… who? 
Bear:  Karin. When does she show up?
Me:  Karin… from the last movie?
Bear:  Yeah.
Me:  But this is a different movie.
Bear:  Right. So when does she show up?

At first I thought that these were perhaps the sleepy ravings of an exhausted, mildly feverish, almost-6-year-old who wasn’t used to staying up past 11:00pm. But then it hit me.  The little girl who played Jonah's friend Jessica in Sleepless in Seattle is the same girl who played Karin in Field of Dreams.  I would never have made this connection, but my sweet little Bear saw it right away. It kind of gave me chills. Not entirely sure why. But isn't it interesting?

From Field of Dreams (c/o
From Sleepless in Seattle (c/o

This observation must have switched on the “find commonalities” part of my brain, because I almost immediately made two more interesting connections between the movies… well, interesting to me, at least.  First, baseball figures prominently in each.  The baseball connection in Field of Dreams is obvious, of course – if you can’t sort that one out, you likely haven’t actually seen Field of Dreams, and if that’s the case, then your assignment for this week is to rent, borrow or buy the film and watch it! – but if you watch Sleepless in Seattle, you’ll find that it’s a baseball reference within Annie’s letter that is the first thing Jonah refers to as “a sign” that she’s someone to whom Sam should consider speaking.  And speaking of Annie, the main female character in both Field of Dreams and Sleepless in Seattle is named Annie.  That’s right.  Not Ann or Anna or any other iteration of the name.  Annie.

Now that I have impressed you with my son’s powers of half-asleep observation and my own ability to make inane connections between movies, you may go about your day. As for me, I’m going to try to sort out what sort of “sign” all this is. Because it must mean something, right?

Or not. 

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