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You've Got Mail

Comedy movie directed by Nora Ephron

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A Contemporary Classic of Romantic Comedy

  • Nov 18, 2004
  • by
I recently saw two films directed by Norah Ephron. This one and Sleepless in Seattle (1993). Both have held up remarkably well. Curious to know the background (if any) to You've Got Mail, I did a little research. Its basic plot can be traced back to Nikolaus Laszlo's play The Shop Around the Corner which was adapted in a film of the same name directed by Ernest Lubitsch in 1940, co-starring Margaret Sullavan and James Stewart. Then in 1949, it was recycled as a musical (re-named In the Good Old Summertime) co-starring Judy Garland and Van Johnson. What we have here is the latest version of Laszlo's original story, brought to the screen again with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in the lead roles. In fact, Hanks and Ryan had appeared previously (but together only briefly) in Sleepless in Seattle.

Here's the basic situation. Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan) owns a small bookstore in Manhattan which is slowly being driven out of business by a major chain, Foxbooks, headed by Joe Fox (Hanks). The two have frequent encounters at a distance, over a period of time, and obviously begin to feel a mutual attraction without ever formally meeting. Meanwhile, they begin a daily e-mail correspondence during which they share personal information. It is important to keep in mind that they know each other only as NY152 and Shopgirl. Also that Joe is involved with Patricia Eden (Parker Posey) and Kathleen with Frank Navaskey (Greg Kinnear). Eventually, she must close the doors of her "Shop Around the Corner" and then....

When observing Hanks's performance again recently, I was fascinated even more because he combines some of the edge of his portrayal of Michael O'Sullivan in Road to Perdition (2002) with the innocence of Allen Bauer in Flash (1984) and as Forrest Gump (1994). Hanks is among the most talented and versatile of film actors. As for Ryan, she portrays Kathleen Kelly with precisely the right balance of spunk, decency, vulnerability, and wit. She is clearly the most sympathetic character in this film as she struggles to save her bookstore while searching for personal fulfillment as a woman. Ephron's supporting cast is first-rate, notably two of my favorite character actors, Dabney Coleman (Nelson Fox) and John Randolph (Schuyler Fox), as well as Posey, Kinnear, and Jean Stapleton (as Birdie). That said, Hanks dominates each scene in which he appears. There is never any doubt (at least in my mind) that Joe and Kathleen will overcome all the barriers and complications and find in each other what their respective lives have previously lacked. Yes, this is a "feel good movie" but that is true of all of the best romantic comedies. My guess (only a guess) is that Ernst Lubitsch would have enjoyed it as much as I did.

It is also worth noting that Ephron skillfully coordinates the plot developments with a soundtrack available on a CD which continues to sell very well. The selections include Puppy Song (Harry Nilsson), Dreams (The Cranberries), Splish Splash (Bobby Darin), Dummy Song (Louis Armstrong), Remember (Harry Nilsson), Dream (Roy Orbison), Rockin' Robin (Bobby Day), Lonely at the Top (Randy Newman), Signed,Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours (Stevie Wonder), I Guess the Lord Must Be in New York City (Sinéad O'Connor), Over the Rainbow (Harry Nilsson), Anyone At All (Carol King), I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself a Letter (Billy Williams), The "You've Got Mail" Suite (George Fenton), and You Made Me Love You (Jimmy Durante).

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October 26, 2010
Excellent review
More You've Got Mail reviews
review by . July 12, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
I know this movie is pretty old but I was so smitten with Meg Ryan since her Young and the Restless days that I had to see this. I think she is fun and she reminds me of a younger Goldie hawn. of course, this movie was all the Hollywood buzz. I still like to watch it again and again. One of the first movies about the Internet and email and chat. AOL was the  King back then  of course that is not the case anymore. This movie is about a small bookstore owner who has learned she has to compete …
Quick Tip by . July 18, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
This movie is great showing the starting of AOL mail and such I would reccommend this movie to anyone
Quick Tip by . July 15, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
This is a very classic movie. Could watch it anytime.
Quick Tip by . July 12, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
If you like formulaic romantic comedies, this is your movie.
Quick Tip by . July 10, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
This movie is about par for the genre. NOthing special
Quick Tip by . July 10, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
I'm a sucker for Meg Ryan. I love all the noisy dial up sound effects too. And "shopgirl." It's like from another era.
Quick Tip by . February 13, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
One of my favorites. I'll never get tired of Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks romantic comedies. In fact, I want more! The perfect V-day movie.
Quick Tip by . December 20, 2009
It's neither unique nor dazzling but it's an endearing romance. It's a movie I could watch over & over again and it's very satisfying.
review by . December 15, 2008
Without a doubt my favorite movie of the 1990's!
There are lots of movies made in the 1940's and 1950's that my wife an I can enjoy again and again.  We really don't care for most new flicks and certainly not enough to watch them multiple times.  One big exception is the 1999 film "You've Got Mail".   Based on the 1940 film "The Shop Around The Corner"  there is indeed something magical about this movie about two business rivals who unknowingly hook up in cyberspace.   …
review by . February 16, 2005
posted in Movie Hype
This is one of my favorites of this genre. Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan do a wonderful job of acting and the story is more than adequate. This is a light hearted movie, something I would like to see more of. I had to agree with the one reviewer who felt that those not particularly fond of this movie, are those that have become a bit jaded. Some movies shoud simply be fun to watch. This is one of them. I highly recommend it for the entire family.
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Robert Morris ()
Ranked #169
Professionally, I am an independent management consultant who specializes in accelerated executive development and breakthrough high-impact organizational performance. I also review mostly business books … more
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About this movie


By now, Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan have amassed such a fund of goodwill with moviegoers that any new onscreen pairing brings nearly reflexive smiles. InYou've Got Mail, the quintessential boy and girl next door repeat the tentative romantic crescendo that madeSleepless in Seattle, writer-director Nora Ephron's previous excursion with the duo, a massive hit. The prospective couple do actually meet face to face early on, butMailotherwise repeats the earlier feature's gentle, extended tease of saving its romantic resolution until the final, gauzy shot.

The underlying narrative is an even more old-fashioned romantic pas de deux that is casually hooked to a newfangled device. The script, cowritten by the director and her sister, Delia Ephron, updates and relocates the Ernst Lubitsch classic, The Shop Around the Corner, to contemporary Manhattan, where Joe Fox (Hanks) is a cheerfully rapacious merchant whose chain of book superstores is gobbling up smaller, more specialized shops such as the children's bookstore owned by Kathleen Kelly (Ryan). Their lives run in close parallel in the same idealized neighborhood, yet they first meet anonymously, online, where they gradually nurture a warm, even intimate correspondence. As they begin to wonder whether this e-mail flirtation might lead them to be soul mates, however, they meet and clash over their colliding business fortunes.

It's no small testament to the two stars that we wind up liking and caring about them ...

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Director: Nora Ephron
Genre: Comedy
DVD Release Date: May 4, 1999
Runtime: 119 minutes
Studio: Warner Home Video
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"Comfort watching"
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