Falling in love in New York City has never been more complicated than in the 1998 classic, You’ve Got Mail. And that’s saying a lot, considering it’s a retro romance film featuring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.
Kathleen Kelly (Ryan) is the owner of a charming children’s bookstore, girlfriend of a renowned news writer and secret pen pal of “NY152.” Disenchanted with her real-life relationship, Kelly begins to find comfort in the digital arms of her witty, mystery e-mail man.
This mystery man is, unbeknownst to Kelly, none other than Joe Fox (Hanks), owner of the big-name book chain that’s threatening to put her out of business. And while the two battle all day over business, at night they are enchanted, enamored and, ironically, giving one another advice on how to deal with their business foe.
A few break-ups, seasons and store closures later, these two will have to determine whether the bond they share emotionally is enough to overcome their history and hatred. Which, as far as love stories go, is a little more on the dry side, but it’s nonetheless adorable and saccharine sweet. And, as someone who even cried during Shrek 2, I’m proud to announce that this is one romance that doesn’t ask any tears in exchange for its resolution.
Sure, its digitally inspired animated title sequence is terrible, but with a soundtrack that includes the likes of Roy Orbison and The Cranberries, even this can be forgiven. Plus, let’s not forget the sick AOL Instant Messenger dial-up tone that’s used often enough to have been included on the track list.
With all this in mind, I would say that this feature is pretty good—but not really anything special. It’s yet another formulaic, love-in-NYC feature with a happy ending you spot from a mile away. Will I even remember having seen this in a year? Probably not. But if you’re looking for a cotton candy flash of a flick, this would certainly be a palatable option.
The best thing that you could say for this film is that both the acting and directing are incredibly on par. Both Hanks and Ryan are so committed to their roles that they really seem like New York shop owners—which, unfortunately is what might be the grounding factor of this film.
The concept of two e-mailing pen pals, who take a year to actually fall in love is far too realistic to actually get wrapped up in. It might just as well be a story your Aunt Mae told you, rather than a multimillion dollar Hollywood production.
So if you find yourself needing a healthy dose of love affirmation, take a peek at You’ve Got Mail. It may not leave you pining for Tom Hanks or longing for an internet sweetheart, but it just might remind you that the first step to finding someone is to actually see them. Cheesy, I know, but what else did you really expect from the ‘90s?