You've Got Mail
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Neigborhood bookstore rivals unwittingly become e-mail pen pals in this charming remake of The Shop Around the Corner
Audio Commentary:Commentary with N. Ephron & L. Shuler-Donner
DVD ROM Features:N. Ephron Audio Bytes "Sounds of NY" (10:07) Interview Gallery - Individual Clips (12:00) Comparison Scenes (38:00)
Featurette:HBO First Look Special: "A Conversation with Nora Ephron" (14:39)
Other:DIscover NY's Upper West Side" - 11 Selectable Clips (15:00)
- Musical score on alternate audio track
- Behind-the-scenes documentary: "HBO First Look: A Conversation with Nora Ephron"
- Interactive map tour "Discover New York's Upper West Side"
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As with Sleepless in Seattle, Ephron, along with her sister Delia as co-screenwriter, attempts to update a tried-and-true film classic, this time Ernst Lubitsch's The Shop Around the Corner (1940), about two people who are concurrently in an antagonistic professional relationship and also anonymous pen-pals fantasizing who the other may be in real life. The novelty this time is that the story takes place at the dawn of the Internet age when people automatically set up AOL accounts with incognito screen names. E-mail and instant messaging have replaced the need for the postal system to exchange anticipated love letters. The story focuses on Joe Fox, one of the wealthy owners of a mega-bookstore chain called Fox Books, a doppelganger for Borders or Barnes & Noble. On Manhattan's Starbucks-saturated Upper West Side, he is opening one of his monstrous stores in the vicinity of The Shop Around the Corner, a specialty children's bookstore owned by Kathleen Kelly.
Much of the movie has to do with her attempts to defend her antiquated turf and ward off the inevitable cannibalization of her small business. I actually found this part of the movie entertaining with nice tweaks in the verbal interplay on corporate greed. I especially liked the sharply scripted scene in the coffeehouse when Kathleen succinctly puts down Joe's business intentions. The other side of the film is the burgeoning love story between Joe and Kathleen on AOL where under their screen names `NYC152' and `Shopgirl', they find themselves bonding and falling in love. Similar to what occurs in the original movie and the Judy Garland musical remake, In the Good Old Summertime, Joe finds out who `Shopgirl' is before Kathleen realizes that he is `NYC152', allowing for an extended courting sequence from Kathleen's sickbed through the Union Square Greenmarket and other locales.
Hanks is a more avuncular presence as Joe and not as manically funny as usual except for a funny scene where he attempts to hide his identity in her bookstore. As Kathleen, Ryan is sometimes on twinkle overdrive, but she manages to come back to her innate malleability as an actress, a quality not all that common among the subsequent generation of rom-com heroines (for example, Kate Hudson in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days or Hilary Swank in P.S., I Love You). Most importantly, even when the material feels like retread, the pair has definite chemistry. The supporting cast is adept and filled with strong players - Parker Posey as Joe's self-obsessed book editor girlfriend Patricia, Greg Kinnear as Kathleen's intellectually pompous boyfriend Frank, a young Dave Chappelle as Joe's colleague Keith, Jean Stapleton as Kathleen's eccentric partner.
The 2008 Deluxe Edition DVD maintains all the features of the previous 1999 DVD, specifically an entertaining commentary track by Ephron and producer Lauren Shuler Donner, a brief HBO short with Ephron, a music video of Carole King's "Anything at All", a music-only audio track, and an interactive tour of the filming locations in New York's Upper East Side. Unfortunately, there are no deleted or expanded scenes offered in either the old or new DVD releases. The print transfer on the new DVD is clean and vibrant, and there are two new featurettes offered as part of the package. The first is "Delivering You've Got Mail" where Hanks and Ryan - both looking good but not overly engaged - reminisce about the filmmaking experience a decade later. The second, "You've Got Chemistry", is really more about romantic comedy as a genre rather than anything particular about this production.
Aside from making me want to run away to the Big Apple and work in the children's section at Fox Books, "You've Got Mail" also features Meg Ryan at her most adorable ("Aren't daisies just the friendliest flower?"), Tom Hanks at his most charming, and a terrific supporting cast (Greg Kinnear and those typewriters!). The story, a modernized little "remake" of "The Shop Around The Corner", is more fairy tale than realism -- two people fall in love over email, in war in real life, and however can such a thing be solved -- but it's an enchanting story nonetheless. In a time when romance on the web seems all-too-seedy and in reality, sometimes frankly dangerous, this little tale of two people sharing their most intimate thoughts long before they share a single glance is like a breath of fresh air. Sure, the technology's a little faded, but the magic's still there.
Riiight. So ultra-fantastically unreal its pathetic. Once she comes to her senses about his complete, callous and total abuse of her and her good life, he's history...just like his Dad and his many shallow relationships. This was just a keep the cash rolling in movie follow on device for their '93 Sleepless in Seattle movie. Would you fall in love with a person who just trashed your life, your family memories, and the passion of your life? Be real, no you would not.
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