You've Got Mail
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The stars (Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan) and director (Nora Ephron) of Sleepless in Seattle reteamed for this charming audience favorite. Greg Kinnear, Parker Posey, Jean Stapleton and more great co-stars add note-perfect support to this cinematic love letter in which superstore book chain magnate Hanks and cozy children’s bookshop owner Ryan are anonymous e-mail cyberpals who fall head-over-laptops in love, unaware they are combative business rivals. You’ve got rare Hollywood magic when You’ve Got Mail.
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It also makes no sense that I would adore a story about a Big Box Bookstore evil that threatens the existence of a small independent bookstore, but Hollywood has a way of making you forgive and forget.
What can I say? I love the writing, the actors and the chemistry between Tom and Meg (obviously my close friends). I LOVE the shallow Parker Posey, Greg Kinnear and Dabney Coleman characters. It wasn't a standout performance by Jean Stapleton as the motherly "Shop Around the Corner" bookkeeper nor any of the rest of the filler cast.
I don't know how to explain it. It's just a nice story of boy meets girl, boy gets girl "or visa versa".
STARRING ROLES: Meg Ryan as Kathleen Kelly aka “Shopgirl,” Tom Hanks as Joe Fox aka “NY152,” Jean Stapleton as Birdie Conrad, Parker Posey as Patricia Eden, Steve Zahn, as George Pappas, Greg Kinnear as Frank Navasky, Dave Chappelle as Kevin Jackson, and Heather Burns as Christina Plutzker.
SUMMARY: Frank Navasky’s an antagonizing left-wing columnist for the “New York Observer” is so committed to his work that he overlooks the needs of his girlfriend, Kathleen Kelly, owner of a small independent book store called “The Shop Around The Corner.” After setting a few boundaries (no real names, occupations, specifics, etc.), Kathleen finds that, as “Shopgirl,” she can get all the attention she craves by exchanging emails with “NY152”—known as Joe Fox in the non-virtual world.
“Fox Books” is a large commercial book retailer owned by the Fox family; Joe Fox is in charge of opening a new branch in Upper West Manhattan, for which Kevin Jackson will be the manager. Because Joe’s father and grandfather remarried later in life, Joe has an eleven-year-old aunt named Annabel and a four-year-old half brother named Matthew; Joe takes Annabel and Matt to afternoon storytime at “The Shop Around The Corner,” but ends up striking coy and flirtatious conversation with Kathleen. When Kathleen expresses her concerns about the new “Fox Books” set to open, Joe scrambles to end the conversation and flee the scene.
Despite Joe’s quick exit, his secret affiliation with “Fox Books” is exposed when he and Kathleen are guests at the same publisher’s party. In fewer words, Kathleen vents about her situation to NY152, who in turn advises Shopgirl to take her fight to the media. The news world quickly buzzes about the independent v. commercial bookstore war and the recent boycott of “Fox Books.” Things seem to be looking up for Kathleen, especially because her online romantic interest, NY152, has finally requested to meet her in person. When Joe discovers Shopgirl’s true identity, he buries his feelings and incites a confrontation with Kathleen about her business tactics; the argument becomes very pointed, signaling Joe’s abrupt exit.
Kathleen, still unaware that Joe is NY152, believes she has been stood up. To make matters worse, “The Shop Around The Corner” fails to compete with “Fox Books” and closes its doors. Kathleen makes a few personal reevaluations, and eventually decides to give the new bookstore a chance; slowly, she and Joe warm to one another, finding common ground through their respective recent breakups.
Meanwhile, Shopgirl and NY152 rekindle their online romance. When they finally give meeting another shot, the tension couldn’t be higher; both Kathleen and Joe have to face the fear that NY152’s true identity might not be the one Kathleen is hoping for…
For the few people who aren't familiar, the plots surround a man and a woman who are pen pals who don't know each other's identities, and when they unknowingly meet it is under circumstances that cause them to dislike each other. In "The Shop Around the Corner", the movie starts in warm weather and concludes on Christmas Eve. In "You've Got Mail" the movie starts just prior to the holiday season and concludes later the next year during warm weather. "Shop" has pen pals writing actual letters, and "Mail" has the modern twist of AOL email.
This was made during Tom Hanks' unbeatable heyday. By coincidence, my wife and I a few times used to play a little intellectual movie game where we tried to line up which recent stars best filled the shoes of some of the giants of yesteryear. We were agreed that Tom Hanks was very similar to Jimmy Stewart in that he plays a variety of roles, and many of them are very good natured. I could easily see Hanks in a remake of Harvey, for example. Therefore we were amused when we later found Hanks in this movie, reprising a Stewart role.
"Mail" adds complexities to the story which didn't exist in the original. In "Mail", both romantic leads start the story in other relationships. Instead of working in the same store, they are business rivals (at least Hanks' character is a rival for Meg Ryan's). They don't see each other as often, but the sense of the key scenes is there.
"Mail" is a different type of movie from "Shop". While "Shop" is in a way a romance, it is more a comedy, with supporting roles doing a lot of the lifting on the laughs. "Mail" is more of a light romance, and although it has amusing moments, they are not laugh out loud funny like some of the scenes in "Shop".
The Warner DVD first released in 1999 of "You've Got Mail" is simply terrible, as most Warner DVD releases of that day were. It is VERY grainy, and is full screen format. Don't be fooled by the format claim that it is anamorphic and widescreen ... that simply isn't true. I pulled it back out tonight and found it to be essentially unwatchable compared to the HD and Blu ray programming we've become used to. Luckily Amazon streams an HD version of the movie free as part of Amazon Prime, and while that presentation won't blow you away, neither will graininess constantly distract you.
We've watched this film several times over the years, and still enjoy it.
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I don't usually like what you'd call "chick flicks" but this movie is not one of those annoying romantic...Read more