You've Got Mail

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Few acquainted with the work of Nora Ephron and Ernst Lubitsch would expect her remake of his The Shop Around the Corner (1940) to be anything but inferior to one of the most delicate, poignant romantic comedies ever made. But in updating to the e-mail era the still potentially fertile story of anonymous pen pals who never knowingly meet but whose letters grow intimate in inverse proportion to their professional animosity, Ephron has produced a travesty, opting for every manipulative trick available. First, from her earlier Sleepless in Seattle, she reunites Ryan, sickeningly ditzy but earnest from her first appearance as the chintzy indie kids' bookseller, and Hanks, flabby and implausibly flexible as the superstore tycoon who threatens to put her out of business but finally does the right thing. Second, there's the ludicrously twee brownstone Manhattan setting. Third, the clumsily loaded characterisation not only treats almost every other figure as dispensable, but doesn't even bother to make Meg and Tom properly sympathetic.

By: GA

Release details

Duration: 119 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Nora Ephron
Screenwriter: Norah Ephron, Delia Ephron
Cast: Tom Hanks
Meg Ryan
Parker Posey
Jean Stapleton
Dave Chappelle
Steve Zahn
Dabney Coleman
Greg Kinnear

Average User Rating

4.3 / 5

Rating Breakdown

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90's rom-coms are probably my favourite genre of film and if it is set in Manhattan in the autumn then that's just a bonus! When I saw that You've got mail was on TV on a Sunday afternoon then all other plans (chores) were put on hold so I could indulged in a bit of Tom Hanks (Does anybody else just think of Woody whenever they hear his voice?) I love the nostalgia of the old dial up internet and find the whole plot rather romantic, especially as I had a three month phone relationship with my partner before meeting in real life! The music and setting of the film went perfectly with the storyline and I wish they would make more movies like this.


The Time Out Reviewer, GA, clearly has no heart. I jest of course, but it's difficult to find much to dislike in this admittedly fluffy but utterly heartwarming romantic comedy. I have yet to see the original (The Shop Around The Corner) but comparing You've Got Mail to this supposed source material is rather unfair, as both in fact stem from a Hungarian play (that's also been turned in to musical!) The plot is timeless: two individuals fall in love via the medium of the written word (be that letter, or email), despite never laying eyes on one another. The allure of a romantic attachment devoid of physical appearance is rather lovely, and offers the basis for a story that contains deeper emotions than most off the shelf romcoms. Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks do make the perfect on-screen couple, even if his characterisation as the evil book tycoon never does quite ring true. The soundtrack, meanwhile, is perfect and memorable, the Cranberries' Dreams evoking 'nothing but the sound of the city streets and the beat of my own heart'. It has its flaws and the AOL email is tremendously dated (it's amusing to watch its nostalgia for typewriters now, when the laptops used in the film are museum-worthy themselves). It's sweet, harmless and a perfect film to watch on a Sunday afternoon snuggled up with a bar of choccie!

You've Got Mail is a surprisingly clever movie. The reviewer, "GA", does the movie a disservice by his/her characterisation of its key elements and characters. Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan) is a very sweet and honest individual who has lived a sheltered existence in the bookstore that she inherited from her mother. True cutthroat business tactics have never been part of her reality. Joe Fox (Tom Hanks) has also led a sheltered existence of a different kind. Born into wealth and privilege, he works for his father's superchain book store and has never had to deal with the harsh reality for those his company sends out of business. And so we have the situation arise where Kathleen and Joe meet anonymously on an Internet chat room and develop a relationship based on heartfelt emails. When Fox Books comes to the neighbourhood, both Kathleen and Joe have to deal with the things they were sheltered from - cutthroat business and the realities of small business destruction, respectively. The movie is full of clever dialogue and amusing observational humor. In addition, the chemistry between Hanks and Ryan works really well. Finally, the New York setting is played to the max, creating enormous sentimentality for the Upper West Side, which adds to the overall enjoyment. If you like romantic comedies, this is a good one.