If I am down, sick, home sick, upset, happy, recently single, recently in a relationship, troubled in my life, troubled in my course – You’ve Got Mail makes me feel better. As soon as I get the winter blues and imminent cold I turn to this DVD. It is my blanket.
You’ve Got Mail is a heart warming love story starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, the two defining actors of the 90’s who’s chemistry on-screen provides the firm foundation of a brilliant romantic comedy. Hanks plays Joe Fox who owns Fox Bookstores, a Barnes and Noble style chain store that takes over every independent bookstore in its path. Ryan plays Kathleen Kelly who has inherited her late mother’s independent bookstore, The Shop Around The Corner, potential prey to the big bad Fox.
Joe and Kathleen haven’t met, they haven’t had a proper conversation, they both hate each other’s careers and they both lead different lifestyles. However, Joe and Kathleen both own book stores, live on the upper-east side, they talk every night on an AOL chat room under the pseudonyms ‘Shopgirl’ and ‘NY152’ and are clearly just as destined to be together as Pride and Prejudice’s Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy. The tantalizing element to this film is that we already know that they get together, but cannot resist finding out if Kathleen and Joe ever work it out when there are so many obstacles in their way.
Meg Ryan’s performance in this film (much like all her rom-com roles) is flawless, Ryan remains the epitome of femininity, while sporting an androgynous impish hairstyle that gives her character even more of that famous Ryan cuteness that makes men like Tom Hanks want to marry her and women like me want to be her. Even when Kathleen Kelly embarrassingly tells the whole neighborhood that she has a phlegm cold, or perhaps when her life is turned upside down and tough choices need to be made in her business, she still acts and looks adorable, something that everyone would like to have, but never can, unless you are Meg Ryan.
Tom Hanks offsets the cute and crisp Kathleen Kelly with his mean but comical portrayal of Joe Fox, who you want to slap and then laugh at throughout most of the film. Joe Fox and Kathleen Kelly are so imbalanced but work harmoniously together with dialogue and quips that just scream of writer/director Nora Ephron of Sleepless in Seattle and When Harry Met Sally fame, the squabbles and romantic emails are what make this film so enjoyable to watch and with lines like: “That caviar is a garnish!” it’s no wonder that this film was (and still is) favored by critics since its release in 1998.
Throughout all the laughs, arguments, and quotable one liners of this enchanting 90s blockbuster, it still manages to tug at your heart-strings and give you a warm fuzzy feeling inside, part of the reason for this feel-good-factor is the excellent soundtrack choices featuring timeless artists such as The Cranberries, Joni Mitchell, and Harry Nilsson whose songs make you feel like the screenplay has grown some arms and given you a cuddle. Perhaps, this is why You’ve Got Mail has stood the test of time, and now has the added nostalgic value when you hear the sound dial-up internet used to make, either way it’s Meg Ryan, Tom Hanks and online dating – the 90’s in its prime and an amazing film.