Tom Hanks Project – “You’ve Got Mail” Review

11 Jul

YGMposterIf you somehow have never seen You’ve Got Mail — we may need to reconsider our friendship*. But seriously, just watch it, OK?! It is delightful, it makes your heart swell, it is sweet. It is so. perfect. It has Parker Posey! And Dave Chappelle**! And typewriters!! AND NEW YORK AS A CHARACTER!!!!! It is about Meg Ryan, aka Kathleen Kelly, who owns a book shop that her mother ran when she was a little girl — a shop called “Shop Around the Corner” (#references), that is a children’s book store. Adorbs. Then in comes Joe Fox***, of Fox Books, a bookstore mogul who is supposed to be representative of Barnes & Noble, which is interesting given what has happened to Barnes & Noble in recent years because of and whatnot. Anyway. Technology. I just want to break in before the jump to say for the first of many times that this is just the most endlessly charming movie we’ve seen. I could watch it once a week forever. And we just may.

*We found out our friend Katie hasn’t seen it and pleaded with her to watch our Blu-Ray Saturday night. We have an extra copy and will insist you borrow it.

**And Steve Zahn! Not as great as his transcendent “That Thing You Do!” performance, but he’s damn funny. And Greg Kinnear! Is … also there!


youve_got_mail_meg_ryan_meg_ryan-1So we have Kathleen Kelly already dating this writer for the New York Observer who is a little bit eccentric and a lotta bit into himself, and you have Fox dating Parker Posey’s excellent portrayal of a semi-evil heartless publisher, but secretly Kelly and Fox are falling for each other anonymously over the internet. They are enemies in real life, but in love on the internet. Drama ensues!!! Both of their partners are pretty flawed and we aren’t sad to see them discarded. Our main couple does have an online relationship that is definitely inappropriate for two people in a committed relationship, but we forgive it because their partners are so unlikable. Especially Parker Posey.


I won’t write about every little detail of the film because, as I said, you must watch it to remain my friend, but I will say that it has a deliciously, life-affirming happy ending and, unlike Sleepless in Seattle, this one felt more believable to me in some ways, and it made me cry tears of joyous joy. “You’ve Got Mail” contains tons of great friendships and great letters between Tom and Meg give this movie a lot of depth. This was made especially clear by watching it just after watching the original it was based off of, which is so much more straight forward and had so little else going on.


I made a bold statement to Zack after we finished our second viewing of the year of You’ve Got Mail*. I said that this was my all-time favorite Tom Hanks movie. I had held back from making such a statement before, making excuses like, “But it’s so dated!” or, “But it’s not even the original – it’s the THIRD movie interpretation of the book!” Then, we watched the James Stewart original, Shop Around the Corner, which I had seen before — and I realized that, while totally sweet and endearing, it’s just not as good. In that version, you don’t see nearly as much interaction between the love letter writers, so it’s tough to root for them as much. Jimmy S. reads a part of one letter, and Margaret Sullavan sort of reads parts of one of hers, and that’s really it. Still, it was fun to see some of the parallels and direct quotes taken from Shop and put in Mail. There are a lot of fun direct parallels. Especially the scene where they’re supposed to meet up for the first time and Tom/Jimmy’s friend goes to look first and says she has the same “coloring” as the girl he already knows. The rest of the scene plays out nearly identically, with Tom/Jimmy first sitting with her and then moving to the chair at the table behind her and continuing to talk to her as she’s rude to him and saying he could never match up to her true love who wrote those letters. We very much enjoyed Shop, but YGM is worlds better and more complex.

*We saw it in theaters a few months ago for a Alamo Drafthouse “Girlie night.”


Laugh out LoudZack: 59  Caitlin: 103 I think my laugh count is as high as it is in part because I just wanted to really commit to the joy of the film. It’s not a hilarious film, but it is charming as all get out. There are little moments in it that just sweep you off of your feet, and the flaws in the characters make you smile in recognition. It manages to be a fairytale of a film, and yet it feels somehow possible. Yeah, I usually laugh more than Caitlin, but she nearly lapped me on this one and had to take the pen to keep adding tally’s to her score. There’s a lot of comedy, especially from the supporting characters. Birdie is a riot, Chappelle is a joy and Zahn does Zahn things. It’s a tad corny from time to time (see above, but overall the jokes work.)

Comedy: Zack: 8.8  Caitlin: 9.5 I think this film’s comedy game is strong. It’s a perfect balance of romance and comedy, really — there are “real” moments when Kathleen is thinking about her deceased mother, but there’s also moments where Joe scoops up most of the caviare and talks about his father’s romantic exploits and Steve Zahn or Dave Chappelle say anything. Agreed, and I forgot about how hilariously terrible a person Parker Posey is. It’s a nice balance of sweet, funny and endless charm.

Cry: Zack: 0.5  Caitlin: 2 Oh, did I weep like a baby at the end of this film. I started to tear up right before the big “reveal” where Kathleen realizes NY152 is Joe, when Joe is giving his “what if” statement where he says, “Oh, how about some coffee or, you know, drinks or dinner or a movie… for as long as we both shall live?” I DIE. Then, of course, there’s the reveal. Brinkley bounds into the scene as Kathleen perks up, and we hear Hanks’ voice bounding out, and they see each other, and I just cried and cried all over myself. I think I usually cry at the ending, but I didn’t quite get there this time. Tom wiping the tears from her face and telling his shop girl not to cry is as adorable as it gets. 


Romantic Interest: Zack: 10  Caitlin: 10 This is a perfect romance. It’s messy, and not an exact match, and there will be things to work through, and Joe Fox did kinda put Kathleen Kelly out of business. And yet — the two balance each other perfectly. They bring out something in the other, a spark or unseen kindness. Life and love are never really perfect, so seeing a match that is imperfect and yet so, so good — that’s how it BECOMES perfect. As they’re going from enemies to best friends, everything they do together just feels so natural. Even just walking around NYC, grabbing a bite or a coffee and being together, they fit. You think she has to be seriously re-considering her e-mail beau since she’s getting so close with Joe, but duh it’s him. And they are meant to be. I like to imagine they have a happy life together after the film. Her writing children’s books and being a part of his stores and taking endless walks and owning NYC together.

Hanks: Zack: 9.5  Caitlin: 9.6 I don’t know how this performance could be improved. I really don’t. Hanks is friendly but flawed, self-reflective and a little cynical but hopeful at the same time. He’s a guy you want to know, a little more devious than the almost too-sweet Jimmy Stewart, but without being mean. It feels like he’s kind of just being himself in some ways, but he also inhabits Joe Fox so well. Because this is seemingly so in line with who Hanks is, I didn’t give it the coveted perfect 10, but it’s way, way up there for me. Tom does seem very Tom in this movie, which is to say the best. He’s a little more ruthless and harsh than I imagine Tom to be, but he’s caring and affectionate and gives us a nicely rounded character who plays the part perfectly.

Movie: Zack: 9.4  Caitlin: 10 When we watched Sleepless in Seattle I said that it and You’ve Got Mail would always be my go-to sick day movies. Now that I’ve rewatched the latter, I can say firmly that there will never be a time I don’t want to watch this movie. It makes me smile, it makes me hold Zack’s hand so tightly — it just makes me feel hopeful that even in all of my own flaws, the person who really loves me will stick by me and bring me flowers when I’m sick and argue about dinner with me and go to a movie with me, for as long as we both shall live. It’s the cutest. It’s in my top 5 Hanks, but not my ultimate favorite. It can feel sooooo long waiting for Tom to tell Meg he’s the one writing the letter and a bit inevitable when you’ve seen it a bunch of times, but it’s still always worth the ride. I love them together and this is easily the best pairing of them. I’ll definitely watch it with Caitlin over and over, for as long as we both shall live.


One Response to “Tom Hanks Project – “You’ve Got Mail” Review”


  1. Introduction to The Tom Hanks Project | rockloveaustin - August 29, 2014

    […] You’ve Got Mail – 1998 Review […]

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