Meg Ryan - Girl Next Door
Although Meg Ryan is a well-known, highly-respected actress, she's had a relatively modest career in terms of movie roles. In other words, she's not been that actress who has done two or three movies a year forever, presumably preferring to balance work with other parts of her life. Here are her best and worst movies, which are less a reflection on her performance necessarily than the quality of the movies overall.
- When Harry Met Sally (1989) - This is the quintessential Meg Ryan film and the one for which she is most widely known. Not only is it her best film, but it is the one she built her career upon. For better or worse, the success of both "Sleepless in Seattle" and "You've Got Mail" are the result of Ryan's popularity in this role. "When Harry Met Sally" was directed by Rob Reiner and is one of the greatest romantic comedies of all-time.
- Sleepless in Seattle (1993) - Another great Ryan role playing on her "girl next door" image. This one is directed by Nora Ephron and was only her second directorial effort at the time. The role that Ryan played, Annie Reed, was originally offered to Julia Roberts, but Roberts turned it down. Nora Ephron also wrote "When Harry Met Sally" and Rob Reiner, the director of that film, appears in this one.
- You've Got Mail (1998) - Nora Ephron, Tom Hanks, and Meg Ryan all returned to the well in this movie, something of a rehash of "Sleepless in Seattle" using a lot of similar themes but incorporating the new dating realties of email. Hey, it worked. It was the third time Hanks and Ryan had worked together and chemistry is no small thing in film. Interestingly, Tom Hanks' character in the film is an afficianado of "The Godfather", one of the greatest films of all-time. Apparently, he and Rob Reiner sometimes host viewing parties for the film (separately, I assume).
- Courage Under Fire (1996) - This was a total departure for Ryan as she plays a deceased copter pilot in Desert Storm who is being considered for the Medal of Honor. Obviously, her scenes are told in flashback as Denzel Washington investigates whether or not she's worthy of the honor. Definitely a situation where Ryan showed she had more range. The basic concept of this movie is borrowed from the great Japanese film "Rashomon".
- The Doors (1991) - While Ryan is hardly the center of attention in this film, it's another that features more acting range as she plays Pamela Courson, Jim Morrison's long-time companion and the woman who found him dead. The movie was directed by Oliver Stone and was controversial in the sense that Doors' member Ray Manzarek has called it a terrible account of the band. Still, it's an entertaining movie.
Worst Meg Ryan Movies
- Against the Ropes (2004) - This is a boxing movie loosely-based on the life of Jackie Kallen, one of the few female boxing promoters. Ryan plays Kallen obviously. The movie, which is supposed to be about boxing, doesn't tell us a thing about it. The movie also contains a sequence that's one of my personal pet peeves: applause for the main character. Anytime the director has other characters applaud for the main character to complete the film's catharsis, it's like a giant flare that nobody knows what they're doing.
- Amityville 3-D (1983) - Old, bad, not much else to say. Not exactly a notable film for Ryan, but still, she was in it and it wasn't good.
- Joe Versus the Volcano (1990) - The first film to feature Tom Hanks and Ryan together. Thankfully, the two films that followed were much better. Now, I hear of people who like this film but, if you ask me, the story about a guy who learns to love life after deciding to throw himself in a volcano is stupid and dull. It's directed and written by John Patrick Shanley, who wrote the screenplay for "Moonstruck". This was his directorial debut and almost his last.
- Prelude to a Kiss (1992) - This movie pairs Ryan with Alex Baldwin in a supernatural love story. I'm sure a lot of people like this film too, but for me, there's too much hocus pocus. Some films like this work, but this one doesn't. The movie is based on a play in which Alec Baldwin also starred.
- Hanging Up (2000) - No question. My least favorite Meg Ryan film. It also stars Diane Keaton and Lisa Kudrow with a screenplay written by Delia Ephron and directed by Keaton. The movie's main plot point involves talking on cell phones, which is just a terrible idea for a movie, but seems to have been written mainly to take advantage of people's fascination with the devices circa 2000. I despised every character in this film. Ryan's character drives around in her Range Rover and talks on the phone all day. That's pretty much it.
Meg Ryan Movies Made With Husbands or Boyfriends
- Innerspace (1987) - First film with Dennis Quaid.
- DOA (1988) - Second film with Dennis Quaid
- Flesh and Bone (1993) - Third film with husband Dennis Quaid.
- Proof of Life (2000) - First film with then boyfriend Russell Crowe.
Meg Ryan's Other Notable Film Roles
- In the Cut (2003) - I recall reading an interview with Dennis Quaid while still married to Meg Ryan in which he said that Ryan had a great body but was afraid to show it off. I seriously wonder whether this movie, directed by Jane Campion, who did "The Piano", wasn't Ryan's attempt to show off that body because it's filled with sex and nudity. As actresses age, the pressure on them must be unbearable too, and although I don't imagine Ryan needed to do nudity, one wonders whether she wanted to get this out of the way before she was too old. I say this with its sexist nature in mind. Sure, the film was directed by a woman, but one still has to wonder about why she did this kind of movie at this particular point in her career.
- Top Gun (1986) - For those who don't remember, Ryan was in this film, playing the wife of Anthony Edwards' Goose.
- Into the Beautiful (2012) - Ryan will direct her first film sometime in the future.
- Meg Ryan - IMDb
Meg Ryan, Actress: Sleepless in Seattle. Blond-haired, blue-eyed with an effervescent personality, Meg Ryan graduated from Bethel high school, Bethel in June 1979. Moving to New York, she attended New York University where she majored in journalism.
Ankush Kohli from India on October 18, 2011:
She stole my heart when i first watched her in Harry met Sally. I also like her role in Courage Under Fire. Interesting fact you have told about her act in Top Gun. I've watched it many a times but never ever noticed her. Soon watch it again. Great Hub! Crank and I appreciate your work.
suziecat7 from Asheville, NC on September 04, 2011:
Great Hub - I'm still a fan of Meg Ryan despite the flubs. Enjoyed the read - thanks.
Carlon Michelle from USA on August 04, 2011:
I love Meg Ryan. The good, the bad and the funny!
ruffridyer from Dayton, ohio on July 01, 2011:
I enjoyed the hub and agree totally with you on Joe versus the Volcano. That movie was dumb.
UltimateMovieRankings from Virginia on April 09, 2011:
Great hub....voted up and useful.
Paradise7 from Upstate New York on April 08, 2011:
Wasn't there another movie with Meg Ryan where she played an alcoholic teacher, wife and mother married to a very charming airline pilot? She did a good job in that film, I just can't recall the name of it. I remember specifically one scene where she got bombed and egged an annoying nieghbor's car.
I agree with you on your very well-written reviews.
And Drewson from United States on April 08, 2011:
Yeah, that pretty much sums em up!