Except for the distraction of having Tom Hanks (??) in a basically cameo role, this was a gut puncher of a film for those of us who lived it. There were no guarantees in 1942 that our entry into WWII was going to last less than 4 years and victory was assured. America was just recovering from the Depression years, we had just lost the bulk of our Pacific fleet, German U-boats patrolled the North Atlantic, Western Europe had already collapsed, Britain was hanging on by its finger nails, Hitler had so far successfully invaded the Soviet Union, and Japan was expanding relentlessly southward swallowing everything in its path. Our young men of fighting age as well as their equipment were hardly prepared to enter the arena of such a conflict. The helmets worn in this film looked as though they were WWI vintage. For those who thought that this movie was boring, welcome to a world that once enjoyed relative quietude and home felt secure. You didn't even have to lock your car or house doors. There were certainly parts of the country that still reflected a hideous past responsible for sucking us into a civil war and not completely rectified to this day. But, there was also a sense of civility, decency, neighborliness, and courtesy in large parts of the country that has long since vanished.
This film realistically captured the America that was, a frozen moment in time that would never be the same. From isolationism to global power. Our country went from childhood to adulthood in the same way and as quickly as the young boy, Homer, in this movie who suddenly went from being 14 years old to being the man of the house. For those who criticized the appearance of Meg Ryan or anyone else, what did you expect them to look like at a time when it felt as though the entire world was going up in flames. Have any of you ever experienced Western Union, used a typewriter or a teletype machine? I'm certain that you didn't. Notice that there were no TVs. Look at the cars. What was a mere 75 years ago must look like something out of the Middle Ages. Between 1945 and 1955, the world jumped - all at once - into the jet age, the atomic age, and the space age. Talk about culture shock!! The pace of this movie reflected the weightiness of the war and death clouds that constantly hung overhead. You never knew when that bad news telegram would arrive or when a uniformed individual might show up at your door. Unlike today, where war is fought by the relative few far away, WWII was constantly all around you. If you went to a movie theater, as they did in this film, you saw newsreels of the fighting and wondered if your father, uncle, or brother was among the soldiers or sailors that you saw in the midst of the carnage that appeared on the screen before you and seemed to be scarier in black and white. The genuine acting, atmosphere, and urban setting of Ithaca (representing everytown) at the time was spot on. Kudos to Meg Ryan's direction. This movie should be seen by anyone under 60 years of age. Meanwhile, look for other movies with Alex Neustaedter (e.g.,Walking Out), an up and coming star.