Tuesday, November 22, 2011

You've Got Mail

Don't you love the now-vintage AOL greeting? Well, I sure do. It is also the title of the romantic comedy directed by Nora Ephron, one of two queens of the genre (accompanied by Nancy Meyers). This is such a joy to watch for many reasons. One being my absolute love for corny romances, and how I so enjoy rewatching them over and over. Another is my equal love for Meg Ryan films, whether she's adorable or plastered with plastic. Yet another is my confusing love for the immensely corny, and at times irritating, Tom Hanks. Say, if you find him so annoying, why do you love him? Well, it's much like the Sex and the City-effect: so awful, I can't help but enjoy. Moving on to the title of the post, Meg Ryan plays a quirky bookshop owner named Kathleen Kelly, while Tom hanks plays a cheesy-friendly man named Joe Fox, partner to a superbookstore chain called Fox Books. Gee, that's clever.

Written by Nora Ephron, same as When Harry Met Sally..., You've Got Mail is a much cornier romantic comedy, relying on childish humor and an easy fall-in-love scenario. This scenario involves two complete strangers (Kathleen and Joe) falling in love via email, and hating one another when they meet. They do not know, however, that the other is the one they've been emailing. Kathleen Kelly is much like Sally Albright, though it's hard to distinguish as she doesn't have a pessimistic Harry to debate with. (I sure wish she did.) Plus, Ms. Ryan's lips are starting to show signs of collagen-consumption. Damn shame, that is. The man, Joe Fox is very...Tom Hanks. That's my characteristic of him. Yes, he's an actual adjective. It entails someone who thinks a lot of themselves: they think they're super witty, super clever, and super wonderful in practically every department. And that's just what Joe Fox is here. When Kathleen discovers the true identity of the friendly stranger in her bookshop to be Joe Fox, the mind behind the Fox Books Superstore, he decides this is a time to make a so-called funny joke involving yet another Godfather quote. (He would be making tons of them.) From that point on, the two would bump into each other practically everywhere. Grocery stores, restaurants, neo-Nazi rallies, you name it. (That last one was a joke. Sort of funny.) I find it amusing that they were so close to crossing paths before, when they were emailing one another, and they finally start to see one another every place they go when they start despising each other. (Quite a few 'others' there. Moving on.) They continue their correspondence via email throughout the film. Just saying.
Joe is the first of them to figure out who his fellow email-buddy is, when they decide to meet in person. That's the consequence of being the first one there. So, clever rascal he is, Joe casually enters the cafe and invades on Kathleen's anticipation. Here, he decides to act friendlier towards her, as if the fact that she was his cyber-crush changes the fact that she is trying to ruin his business. (Although that would never happen because Joe Fox is the best.) Kathleen, evidently naive and very forgiving, reciprocates his kindness. (Reciprocates?) Consequently, they become dear friends! Aww!

Alright, do not panic, but I just realized something: I was starting to tell you exactly what happens in the movie, point-by-point. No need in erasing what I had already written, it's out there for you to see. I apologize. Allow me to continue, spoiler-free.

Besides the obvious difference in plot, When Harry Met Sally... differs from You've Got Mail in one main point: the male lead. If Tom Hanks assumed the role of the cynical Harry Burns (a type Mr. Hanks isn't necessarily great at), the entire film would no longer have an individualistic wonder about it. It definitely would not be my favorite all-time movie either, partly because I dislike Tom Hanks as a romantic character. (And I love Billy Crystal.) Same as if Billy Crystal played the role of Joe Fox in You've Got Mail, who is somewhat of a cynic because he's in big business. The role of Joe Fox is made for Tom Hanks because that is a corny role: a guy who makes corny jokes when caught in an awkward confrontation, or otherwise. Billy Crystal is totally wrong for that part; he would have made it an entirely different movie, from what it's supposed to be: incredibly cheesy. Don't get the wrong idea from my what-may-seem-to-be mocking tone, as not all corny movies are unwatchably horrible. In fact, they are really enjoyable! You've Got Mail included. Corny movies give the audience a break from the to-be-taken-seriously theme of other films. Maybe one would rather watch an intentionally hilarious comedy, such as The Hangover, to satisfy their taste for some laughs. That would be the obvious path to take. Usually I take that path, but sometimes, I'm in the mood for something older. Yes, I do get into that groove often, which is why I force my dad to sit through yet another You've Got Mail-esque film time after time.

Overall, this film is a classic whether you like it or not, and it's truly an enjoyable one. Next time you're in the mood for some cheesy romance, just check you're AOL inbox (if you still have one or live in the 90s) and your answer lies there.
  • "Orange you going to give us a break?" -- example of the hilarious work of Tom Hanks...had to mention this one, it was so funny. Not.


  1. “I wanted it to be you. I wanted it to be you so badly.”

    Over 14 years after its release You’ve Got Mail is still as wonderful as ever, although when I watch it now it’s a bittersweet experience; knowing it was the last big box office movie in the career of Meg Ryan.

    On a purely personal note I prefer Tom Hanks to Billy Crystal. In fact I just remembered that Billy Crystal is in THE TOOTH FAIRY. 'Nuff said.

  2. You’ve Got Mail has become like an old friend to me, a place to come back to and remember. To this day, if someone gave me a bouquet of sharpened pencils, I’d marry them on the spot.