While this film seems like a lot of other formulaic romantic comedies, (girl meets boy, girl saves boy's life but he falls into a coma, girl meets boy's brother, girl falls in love with him instead) it's actually fairly original in one crucial aspect. Our heroine, Lucy Moderatz, is strikingly different from today's female romantic leads. In every Jennifer Lopez/Kristen Bell/Katherine Heigl/Kate Hudson movie (really, they're interchangeable even though I confess I watch and love quite a few of them), the protagonist is a hard-working career-girl who isn't interested in love until a slovenly but endearing lothario teaches them to relax, open up, and love. Usually I believe, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. But this same character over and over is getting redundant and pointless. Stop assuming that female audiences find any other personality type unfathomable, unrelatable, and unlikeable. That last description is particularly absurd since most of these characters are the epitome of unlikeability.
What makes Lucy Moderatz special is that she doesn't have her act together. She lives alone with her cat (in one uncomfortable scene she even dips an oreo into the cat's dish and eats it. blech.) She has a somewhat demeaning job working for the Chicago Transit Authority. She has no family, and it seems only one friend (the admittedly somewhat token sassy black co-worker who could use some more screen time). Essentially, Lucy is a harmless stalker, pining for Peter Gallagher's character in his double-breasted pinstripe suits, from the safety of her toll booth. Honestly, if Sandra Bullock wasn't so adorable, even in her less-conventionally attractive early 90s phase, Lucy would be kind of creepy when she accidentally infiltrates the Callaghan family.
The fact that she doesn't have a whole lot going for her, other than a sparkling personality, memories of her father, and dreams of Florence, makes Lucy so much more endearing than the shrewish, anal retentive snobs of today's chick flick. She not only lands two fiances, granted one is comatose for most of the movie, but she also gains the love and comfort of a real, loving and wacky family. The audience shares her joy when all of her dreams come true at once. Jack (Bill Pullman), proposes to her in her tollbooth in front of the whole family, and whisks her away on a Florence honeymoon. Cue the 'aw' moment and overused "This Will Be" motown rom-com anthem.
In today's climate, and real life in general, many women don't have their act together. Yes, we're focused on our careers, but they're probably not going so well at this point. Tripping every so often, dropping stacks of paper, spilling coffee on suits real people in that situation could never afford, or bumping into attractive men with conflicting personalities, that doesn't make a heroine flawed and real. Lucy has real problems. She doesn't need to make a pratfall for us root for her.
Speaking of pratfalls though, "While You Were Sleeping" does contain the greatest one since the Three Stooges. I'm speaking of the hilariously random paper boy who totally biffs it on the icy sidewalk. Glorious. I don't know what it's doing in the movie, but it may be my favorite part.