Movie Magazine International

You've Got Mail

USA - 1998

Movie Review By Heather Clisby

"You've Got Mail" is one of those cutesy, cuddly, holiday love stories that - if your heart is in a bad part of town - can give you a painful cavity. I, for one, developed a souvenir headache from repeatedly rolling my eyes.

It's the same adorable couple from "Sleepless in Seattle" Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks, written and directed by the same woman, Nora Ephron, about the very same thing - two complete strangers meant for one another.

Ryan is Kathleen Kelly, owner of her late mother's charming children's bookstore called "The Shop Around the Corner." Hanks is Joe Fox, the owner of Fox Books, a multi-million-dollar chain that feeds ravenously on the blood of small, independent bookstores much like that of Ms. Kelly's. They are supposed to be enemies but love is the air, y'see.

Joe & Kathleen, a.k.a. NY152 and Shopgirl, have an established anonymous cyber connection after meeting in a chat room. When they bang their lovable heads in real-life as business rivals, those wacky coincidences just start piling up!

Ironically, both characters are involved in loveless, easy-to-remove relationships and, gosh, how handy is that? Parker Posey is Joe's live-in girlfriend, Patricia Eden, a hilariously self-centered and ultra-hyper editor. Posey is like a refreshing can of red paint splashed around a droll, beige living room. Greg Kinnear is Frank Navasky, Kathleen's crusading journalist boyfriend and he also adds some refreshing quirks to the scene.

Otherwise, oh, it's all so perfectly fateful and idyllic! Geez, what a nightmare. I couldn't wait to escape its cloying cuteness. I felt like I needed to run out and rent "Romeo is Bleeding" just to readjust my blood sugar. It felt like watching the popular kids at school. Aren't they attractive and happy? Don't you wish you were one of them? Oh, what's going to happen now? He loves her, she loves him but they don't know who the other one is! How clever! I can't stand the suspense! Tra, la, la. And their story, it's so modern, so technologically advanced! Isn't it all just really hip and yet so old-fashioned at the same time? Hey, I know, let's make homemade cookies in the microwave and then tell stories by the video fire! Yuck!

Still, to be fair, Nora and Delia Ephron's script does explores a topic that has not been fully addressed in modern cinema: e-mail relationships. What we used to do face-to-face, then over the phone, then through our answering machines, we now do through the computer. At one point, Kathleen bids goodbye to her cyber love with this statement: "What we write in our e-mails is usually just a lot of nothing but these nothings have meant more to me than many somethings." See now, straight from the heart, realistic and not too corny, I thought. But an entire movie of huggable smarm?

Bottom line, if you wear a lot of pink, dot your I's with little hearts and prefer fluff to backbone in your movie diet, then by all means, take a safe driving route to a theatre near you.

© 1998 - Heather Clisby - Air Date: 12/16/98

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