Sleepless in Seattle (Columbia Classics Vol. 4) UHD Review

4 Stars Best of the Hanks/Ryan Rom Coms
Sleepless in Seattle Review

Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan star in Nora Ephron’s Sleepless in Seattle, making its 4K debut as part of Sony’s Columbia Classics 4K Ultra HD Collection Volume 4.

Sleepless in Seattle (1993)
Released: 25 Jun 1993
Rated: PG
Runtime: 105 min
Director: Nora Ephron
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Cast: Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan, Ross Malinger
Writer(s): Jeff Arch, Nora Ephron, David S. Ward
Plot: A recently widowed man's son calls a radio talk-show in an attempt to find his father a partner.
IMDB rating: 6.8
MetaScore: 72

Disc Information
Studio: Sony
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution: 2160p HEVC w/HDR
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: Dolby Atmos, English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD, English 2.0 DTS-HDMA, English 5.1 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 2.0 DD, Other
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French, Other
Rating: PG
Run Time: 1 Hr. 45 Min.
Package Includes: UHD, Blu-ray, Digital Copy
Case Type: 2-disc UHD keepcase with slipcover
Disc Type: UHD
Region: All
Release Date: 02/13/2024
MSRP: $215.99

The Production: 4.5/5

In the 1990s, the most popular rom com pairing was Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. In that ten year period, they made three films together: the odd and somewhat divisive Joe Versus the Volcano in 1990, the rather original Sleepless in Seattle in 1993, and finishing out the decade was the rather similar You’ve Got Mail in 1998. The first and last films were made at Warner Bros, so it is Sony that brings us Sleepless in Seattle as part of the fourth volume of their Columbia Classics 4K Ultra HD Collection.

Richard Gallagher’s review from the 2013 Twilight Time Blu-ray release is below:

“You don’t want to be in love. You want to be in love in a movie.”

Fans of Nora Ephron’s hit romantic comedy Sleepless in Seattle are sure to be pleased by this excellent… release…. The film features an outstanding cast headed by Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, and they are ably assisted by an impressive array of actors in supporting roles. Throw in a witty and intelligent script by Ephron, Davis S. Ward and Jeff Arch, add a musical soundtrack dominated by catchy and familiar tunes, top it off with outstanding cinematography by the great Sven Nykvist, and you have a winning concoction which only the most cynical viewer could dislike.

Sam Baldwin (Tom Hanks) is a Chicago architect whose idyllic marriage comes to a premature end when his wife is struck down by an incurable illness. Sam is inconsolable, and after a time he decides that he and his son, Jonah (Ross Malinger) need a change of scenery because Sam cannot walk the streets of Chicago without thinking about his wife. They move to Seattle, where they take up residence in a beautiful houseboat on Lake Union. However, the change does little to improve Sam’s spirits, and he spends much of his free time convinced that he will never be able to recapture what he once had.

Annie Reed (Meg Ryan) is a journalist in Baltimore who works for her best friend Becky (Rosie O’Donell). It is Christmas Eve, and Annie is bringing her reliable but unexciting boyfriend, Walter (Bill Pullman), to meet her somewhat eccentric family. Over dinner Walter announces that he and Annie are going to be married, but later Annie senses that she is missing something after her mother confides that her first meeting with Annie’s father was “magic.” As they are leaving that evening, Annie asks her fiancé, “Did anyone ever call you anything other than Walter?” While shaking his head Walter replies “Nope.”

Later, while driving alone, Annie is checking out various radio stations when she accidentally tunes into Dr. Marsha Fieldstone, a psychologist with a call-in show. Just as Annie begins to listen, Dr. Fieldstone is taking a call from Sam’s son, Jonah, who explains that he is worried about his father. Jonah believes that it is time for Sam to find a new wife. Dr. Fieldstone convinces Jonah to call Sam to the extension phone, and when she asks Sam how he is sleeping Jonah blurts out “He doesn’t sleep at all.” Sam tells Dr. Fieldstone that he is trying his best to cope with his situation, and he concludes by saying “And then after a while I won’t have to think about how I had it great and perfect for a while.” Annie, listening to this while she drives, begins to cry. Sam’s story becomes a sensation among female radio listeners, and Annie begins to believe that there might be a story in it. On a deeper level, however, she is intrigued and fascinated by the idea that people can feel far stronger emotions than those which she feels for Walter.

Sleepless in Seattle is an unusual romantic comedy in that the principal characters have very little screen time together, and in fact they do not even meet until 70 minutes into the film (and then only briefly). The film nevertheless proceeds at a lively pace under Nora Ephron’s direction, as the parallel lives of Sam and Annie play out with the aid of strong performances by a cast which includes David Hyde Pierce, Rita Wilson, Rob Reiner, and Victor Garber. Rose O’Donnell is amusing as a feisty woman who has had romantic troubles of her own. Bill Pullman does a fine job as Walter, a man plagued by allergies who maintains his dignity even as he begins to realize that Annie is slipping away from him. Even the child actors (Ross Malinger, and Gaby Hoffman as Jonah’s friend, Jessica) manage to avoid being annoying and cloying. Tom Hanks is extremely likeable as Sam, a role in which he could have descended into mawkishness, and Meg Ryan is equally believable and appealing as Annie. Some might argue that their romance is one which could only happen in the movies, but that is precisely the point of Sleepless in Seattle.

Video: 4.5/5

3D Rating: NA

Sleepless in Seattle was shot on 35mm film stock with Panaflex cameras and lenses by Panavision and completed in 35mm with an intended theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1. Per the restoration notes by the late James Owsley included in the collectable book, the 35mm original negative was scanned in 4K with additional cleanup and color correction along with a high dynamic range color pass. The first thing one will likely notice on Sony’s 2160p HEVC encode (which includes both Dolby Vision and HDR10) is how much darker the image is on this first 4K release compared to previous releases, even the included remastered Blu-ray that is harvested from this same master (which, too, looks dark but not to the degree of the 4K). The use of HDR helps by making shadow details more visible, but YMMV based on how well your display handles HDR. Colors are natural and well-saturated. Film grain is retained, appearing organic and is never distracting.

Audio: 4.5/5

Sleepless in Seattle is a dialogue-driven film, so the inclusion of a new Dolby Atmos mix may be a bit surprising. Originally released theatrically in Dolby Stereo with a matrixed surround track, a 5.1 mix was created for a previous Blu-ray release (possibly the Twilight Time and Sony German Blu-rays in 2013). This new Atmos mix expands somewhat on that meager 5.1 mix (also available on this disc in DTS-HD MA), allowing for a wider front soundstage and seamless transition of sounds between speakers. Heights are implored to add a sense of ambience with atmospheric sounds like wind, rain, etc. Like the stereo and 5.1 mixes, this Atmos mix is very subtle in its implementation. Dialogue remains clear and understandable throughout.

Special Features: 3.5/5

The UHD disc, unfortunately, is movie only, but there is a nice set of archival special features on the included remastered Blu-ray with one new and rather short feature and commentary track.

**NEW** A Conversation on “Sleepless in Seattle”  with Gary Foster and Meg Ryan (1080p; 3:36): Actress Meg Ryan and Producer Gary Foster fondly look back at the film.

Love in the Movies (upscaled 1080i; 13:09): This DVD featurette gives an overview of the significance of films about love. Included are comments by Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan, Delia Ephron, Dr. Drew Pinsky, and others about such mysterious concepts as fate and coincidence.

Deleted Scenes (1080p; 6:07): Four scenes are included – Opening Gifts, Guests at the Door, Fishing and Airport.

30th Anniversary Commentary with Karen Han and David Sims: Culture columnist Karen Han and film critic for The Atlantic David Sims discuss the film and its impact on the genre.

Audio Commentary with Nora and Delia Ephron: The two sisters discuss the film in this track ported over from a previous DVD release.

When I Fall in Love Music Video (upscaled 1080i: 4:21): Celine Dion and Clive Griffin perform the song featured in the film.

Theatrical Trailer (1080p; 2:31)

Digital Copy: A Movies Anywhere code is included for all six films in the boxed set. Sony has been slowly rolling out the 4K digital release of this film, so it is recommended that the code for this film be redeemed on Movies Anywhere to guarantee that you receive 4K rights as soon as your retailer of choice offers the film in 4K.

Overall: 4/5

Although currently only available on UHD disc in the Columbia Classics 4K Ultra HD Collection Vol. 4 boxed set, Sleepless in Seattle has possibly never looked or sounded better.

Todd Erwin has been a reviewer at Home Theater Forum since 2008. His love of movies began as a young child, first showing Super 8 movies in his backyard during the summer to friends and neighbors at age 10. He also received his first movie camera that year, a hand-crank Wollensak 8mm with three fixed lenses. In 1980, he graduated to "talkies" with his award-winning short The Ape-Man, followed by the cult favorite The Adventures of Terrific Man two years later. Other films include Myth or Fact: The Talbert Terror and Warren's Revenge (which is currently being restored). In addition to movie reviews, Todd has written many articles for Home Theater Forum centering mostly on streaming as well as an occasional hardware review, is the host of his own video podcast Streaming News & Views on YouTube and is a frequent guest on the Home Theater United podcast.

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