You've Got Mail

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Hanks and Ryan Explore an Internet Relationship in You've Got Mail

Feb 25, 2008 (Updated Oct 9, 2008)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Entertaining romantic comedy. Hanks and Ryan.

Cons:None for me. Not for people who don't like romantic comedies.

The Bottom Line: You've Got Mail was a very entertaining movie that fans of the cast should enjoy.


After the internet became so popular, people started turning to it for more. With all the chat rooms and message boards, there were many different places to meet people and some used those opportunities to start new romantic relationships. It wasn't surprising when movies started to be made dealing with that aspect of the internet. I think that You've Got Mail was the first movie to tackle the subject.

Kathleen Kelly owned a successful bookstore that only sold children’s books. She had a good relationship with her employees Birdie, George, and Christina. Kathleen was concerned when she learned that a Fox Bookstore was opening nearby. She had been seeing Frank for a while but that hadn’t stopped her from starting to exchange emails with another man online. She and Joe Fox, one of the owners of the Fox Bookstore chain, clashed instantly when they met. They had no idea that they had been exchanging emails and chatting online for months.

I have heard You’ve Got Mail compared to the movie The Shop Around the Corner that was made in 1940 several times. I believe it was meant to be a modern version of the story, though I could be wrong about that. I think the characters were pen pals in The Shop Around the Corner, though I might be wrong about that since I haven’t seen that movie. At least some things would have been changed just because this version was set in modern times and contained newer technology like computers and the internet.

I believe that You’ve Got Mail is considered a romantic comedy by most people. Several things happened that were funny without the movie being hilarious overall. The things done to add humor weren’t overly silly either, which is a nice change from what tends to be done in many movies. The humor was gentler than what has been used in many other movies. There weren’t any gross jokes and no one was put down for the sake of a joke, something else that many movies seem to resort to. The humor did work for the movie very well with what was going on.

The situation with Kathleen’s book store and the Fox Bookstore opening up nearby did play a very important part in the plot of You’ve Got Mail. That greatly complicated Kathleen and Joe’s relationship since it put her store in danger of closing. The store had originally been opened by her mother and had been successful for years. Birdie had worked with Kathleen’s mother and stayed on when she took over the store. It had seemed like the customers liked Kathleen, her staff, and her store, but they didn’t remain loyal once the Fox Bookstore opened up with their lower prices. I do think that the Fox Bookstore was intended to be a version of Barnes and Nobel with how huge the store was and how many discounts were offered. The part of the plot dealing with the bookstores did seem believable.

Joe had been living with Patricia for a while when You’ve Got Mail started. She wasn’t a very nice person and Joe didn’t seem that happy in the relationship, which did make me wonder why he was with her. Kathleen also seemed happy in her relationship with Frank. As the movie progressed, it became more clear that something was missing in the relationship. She and Joe had started exchanging emails and chatting before the movie began as well. They talked about many things without getting too personal or specific. They did decide to meet at one point, but things didn’t like either of them had hoped and actually complicated things. Their relationship was very important to what was going on since much of the movie was focused on it in some way. There were a few minor sexual discussions that didn’t get graphic. There weren’t any sex scenes or any nudity in the movie. A few characters were shown kissing and that was it.

The internet had been around for a few years and certain things, like chatting online, had started to get popular by the time You’ve Got Mail was made. Joe and Kathleen were frequently shown sitting at computers reading or composing emails. They were both using AOL to connect to the internet and the title of the movie even came from the little message the program would give when someone had new email. When they would connect to the internet, all the noises associated with a dial up connection were heard and the connection process was way faster than I ever managed when I had dial up. I also noticed that it was very clear in some scenes that the laptops they were using were not connected to a phone line, yet they still connected through a dial up connection somehow. That didn’t make me like the movie any less, but I did think it was sort of funny.

Kathleen and Joe were the main characters and the most developed. Kathleen was a very nice, sweet woman who loved her store and was trying really hard to stay in business. She did end up doing a few things that seemed out of character for her. Meg Ryan was really good as Kathleen. These are the types of roles she excels in. Joe was very determined to make the new Fox Bookstore a success and he’d even joked with his father about how they ran other smaller bookstores out of business. Joe was more ruthless in how he did business and he wasn’t always that nice in other areas either. Tom Hanks handled the part well. He and Ryan, who were also in Sleepless in Seattle and Joe Vs. The Volcano together, had very good chemistry together.

Patricia and Frank were somewhat important even though their parts were smaller. Patricia wasn’t nice at all and I didn’t find her likable in any way. Parker Posey was good in the part. Frank was very wrapped up in his own interests even though he did try to do a few things to help Kathleen with her plans to keep her store open. There wasn’t anything special about Frank even though Greg Kinnear did fine with the part. Birdie was slightly eccentric, but very nice. George, who was a bit goofy, and Christina just weren’t developed beyond the fact that they worked in the store. Dabney Coleman turned up in a few scenes as Joe’s father Nelson and Dave Chappelle was one of Joe’s friends.

Main Cast

Heather Burns - Christina
Dave Chappelle - Kevin
Dabney Coleman - Nelson Fox
Tom Hanks - Joe Fox
Greg Kinnear - Frank
Parker Posey - Patricia
Meg Ryan - Kathleen Kelly
Jean Stapleton - Birdie
Steve Zahn - George

Nora Ephron - Director

I first saw You’ve Got Mail in the theater and have since watched it several times when I’ve found it on television. It was rated PG, so I don’t think it has to be edited when it airs on any of the networks. The movie is available on DVD. I’m not sure what extras are included on that version of the movie since I’ve never seen it on DVD.

You’ve Got Mail is a very entertaining romantic comedy that is worth seeing. Fans of Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan should give it a chance.

Tom Hanks Movie Reviews
The 'Burbs ~ Charlie Wilson's War ~ The Da Vinci Code ~ The Polar Express ~ The Terminal ~ Toy Story ~ Toy Story 2 ~


Recommend this product? Yes


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