By Lisa Schwarzbaum
Updated April 28, 1995 at 04:00 AM EDT

While You Were Sleeping

type
  • Movie

From a distance, While You Were Sleeping (Hollywood, PG) looks like a feel- good romantic comedy of about the same width and depth as Sleepless in Seattle. It’s what TV executives might call a warm-edy, because its goal is to make you go awwww as well as har har. And the hell of it is, you do. You go awwww because Lucy Moderatz (Sandra Bullock) is a lonely, dreamy orphan, a woman who works as a token clerk for the Chicago Transit Authority and nurses a secret crush on Peter Callaghan (Peter Gallagher), a yuppie commuter who doesn’t know she exists. You go har har because once Peter’s been mugged and Lucy has saved his life and he’s in a coma, his family mistakenly believes that she’s his fiancee and she goes along with the ruse because she likes being adopted by them and furthermore she starts to fall in love with Peter’s much nicer, less polished brother, Jack (Bill Pullman), who would be just right for her if only she weren’t too nutsy to admit it. It’s the kind of dilemma the heroine of a ’30s screwball comedy might have gotten into, and Fred MacMurray would have played the Pullman part. Only when you look closer do you realize that While You Were Sleeping exhibits precious few genuine feelings. It’s a movie cranked out by machine, about supposedly delightfully idiosyncratic characters who only do what they do because the highly structured plot requires it. This is a problem even for those as eager to please as Bullock and Pullman. The extremely likable girl- star of Speed, especially, just about knocks herself exhausted playing winsome, lovable, gamine-anything to fill the void left by an unclear sense of who Lucy is. Meanwhile Pullman toggles between being the frustrated artisan of the family and just a Real Nice Guy. And Gallagher awakens from his coma $ unsure of whether he’s a shallow overachiever or simply a polite man who’s been out like a light for weeks. (Peter Boyle, Glynis Johns, Micole Mercurio, Monica Keena and Jack Warden play family and friends not nearly as colorful as they think they are.) With stronger direction from Jon Turteltaub, a relative novice whose big credit is 1993’s Cool Runnings, and a more focused script by Daniel G. Sullivan and Fredric Lebow (this is their first produced feature), these weaknesses might have been avoided. The problem with the modern, manufactured charm of While You Were Sleeping is that in trying to get all the parts to run smoothly, the filmmakers treated personality as an option rather than as the motor that kept those old screwball comedies humming so happily.

Episode Recaps

While You Were Sleeping

type
  • Movie
mpaa
director
Advertisement

Comments