A Guide To Platonic Relationships In The Movies

by Dino-Ray Ramos

It seems like movies have forever tried to tackle the question of if men and women can really just be friends, but it wasn't until When Harry Met Sally came out in 1989 that Hollywood dug deep into the issue of platonic opposite sex relationships. It's 2015, and that question is still being asked, notably in the new movie Sleeping With Other People. Essentially, Sleeping With Other People is the When Harry Met Sally for the millennial generation — but how do these two romantic comedies compare?

Of course, both movies take place the center of the rom-com cinematic universe: New York City. When Harry Met Sally flat out addresses the question, "Can men and women be friends and nothing else?" while Sleeping With Other People addresses the question from a different angle asking, "Can two sex addicts be in a platonic opposite sex relationship?"

Both movies explore all the interesting things that happen in a relationship after a man and woman have sex, but in When Harry Met Sally, Harry (Billy Crystal) and Sally (Meg Ryan) have a deep friendship before they do the deed. They become friends after college and have a certain level of intimacy with each other. One night, she has a relationship crisis and turns to Harry for help and they end up sleeping with each other. In Sleeping With Other People, though, Lainey (Alison Brie) meets Jake (Jason Sudeikis) during college after a relationship meltdown, and they impulsively take each other's virginity. Their real friendship doesn't begin until much later. Still, you can see how the stories are so similar in the trailers below:

Even though though Sleeping With Other People continues the "just friends" conversation, When Harry Met Sally pretty much remains the touchstone for asking that particular question. Here are some other movies that are cut from the same cloth:

Just Friends (2005)

The title of this Ryan Reynolds rom-com that you may have forgotten about pretty much says it all.

Win a Date With Tad Hamilton! (2004)

I would consider this a "forgotten" rom-com. It made Josh Duhamel a movie star and Topher Grace perpetually stuck in the "friend zone."

My Best Friend's Wedding (1997)

This movie explored the other side of the question, showing that a girl can fall in love with her guy friend, but realize that it just won't work... but they can still be friends. Or can they?

The Harry Potter Franchise (2001-2011)

Although some thought that Harry and Hermione were meant to be together (fools, all of them!), Hermione ended up with her other BFF, Ron — but she still remained friends with Harry. It's way more fitting.

Pretty In Pink (1986)

Another one of those instances where the friends didn't end up together, but you can't not love Duckie anyway.

What If (2013)

A more recent indie-darling rom-com that was compared to When Harry Met Sally... but in this one, the girl already has a boyfriend.

Love And Basketball (2000)

This is probably the best movie about childhood friends who may or may not end up together. It'll kick your heart around and make you cry, too.

Les Miserables (2012)

In one of the many storylines of this musical, Eponine does everything to make her friend and crush, Marius, happy — including hooking him up with Cosette. Love is found, but things don't end too well for Eponine. It's evidence that the world is cruel and random no matter how selfless you are.

Some Kind Of Wonderful (1987)

A cautionary, John Hughes-branded tale of falling in love with your best friend (set to an awesome soundtrack, by the way).

Boys And Girls (2000)

There was a time during the early '00s where a teen rom-com came out nearly every week. Freddie Prinze, Jr. was in 90 percent of those movies, and this one was one of the best and overlooked ones.

Reality Bites (1994)

Leilana and Troy were the Gen X couple that everyone yearned to be.

There are many other movies that explore both sides of the "just friends" conversation, and I'm sure that after Sleeping With Other People, there will be many, many more.

Image: Linda Källérus/IFC