(director: John Turteltaub; screenwriters: Daniel G. Sullivan/Fredric Lebow; cinematographer: Phedon Papamichael; editor: Bruce Green; music: Randy Edelman; cast: Sandra Bullock (Lucy Eleanor Moderatz), Bill Pullman (Jack Callaghan), Peter Gallagher (Peter Callaghan), Peter Boyle (Ox Callaghan), Jack Warden (Saul), Glynis Johns (Elsie Callaghan), Micole Mercurio (Midge), Michael Rispoli (Joe Jr.), Jason Bernard (Jerry, Lucy’s boss); Runtime: 103; MPAA Rating: PG; producers: Joe Roth/Roger Birnbaum; Hollywood Pictures; 1995)

“It’s cutesy enough to serve as a pleasant time-waster for those hungering for blue-collar romance in Chi town.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

John Turteltaub (“The Kid”/”3 Ninjas”/”National Treasure: Book of Secrets”) directs this lighthearted romantic screwball comedy. It’s cutesy enough to serve as a pleasant time-waster for those hungering for blue-collar romance in Chi town. Writers Daniel G. Sullivan and Fredric Lebow keep it fairytale lite throughout.

Lucy Eleanor Moderatz (Sandra Bullock) is a sweet but lonely single who lives alone with her cat and is a token clerk for the Chicago Transit Authority who thinks a handsome commuter businessman type, who regularly rides in the morning the el-train to work from her station without ever noticing her is her Prince Charming and tries to figure out how to meet him. On Christmas day, the stranger gets mugged and is pushed on the tracks, and Lucy jumps onto the tracks to save him from an oncoming train. She visits the comatose man at the hospital and finds out he’s a lawyer named Peter Callaghan (Peter Gallagher). When his eccentric family arrives as a group, there’s a misunderstanding and she’s introduced as his fiancĂ©e. Peter’s weird father Ox (Peter Boyle) embraces her as a family member, as do his heart problem mother Midge (Micole Mercurio), chatty grandmother Elsie (Glynis Johns) and long-time friend of the family and godfather Saul (Jack Warden). Later Lucy meets Peter’s affable brother Jack (Bill Pullman) and she falls in love with him for real. Meanwhile a bewildered Peter comes out of the coma in the third act, to create another twist.

The film relies on Bullock, in her first starring romantic vehicle, to make her pretty wallflower role work so we can root for her to succeed as the girl-next-door type. Bullock serves up dollops of charm and proves to be quite winsome in her sympathetic role. “Sleeping” is about as inoffensive and without any tension as are probably most feel-good sitcoms; there’s no reason for you to remember it, since there were no exceptional moments. But then again Bullock and Pullman do exactly what’s required of them and there’s an audience ready-made for such nice romance stories.

While You Were Sleeping Poster