Anthony's Film Review

You've Got Mail (1998)

An average but still charming film about romance in the digital age...

In the mid to late 1990s, the Internet was quickly becoming a technological advancement that would change people's lives in so many ways. I won't go through the whole list since this isn't an article for a computer technology publication, but I will mention the one impact that is relevant here: e-mail. As more people began to communicate with others through cyberspace, the Internet service provider America On-Line was becoming known for its trademark soundbite: "You've got mail!" Pretty soon, someone in Hollywood would decide to use this catchphrase as a title for a movie about online romance.

You've Got Mail stars Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan as two competing bookstore owners named, respectively, Joe Fox and Kathleen Kelly. He runs Joe & Sons, a bookstore that he hopes will grow into a huge bookstore chain. She runs The Shop Around the Corner, a small independent children's bookstore. This is a good time to mention something about The Shop Around the Corner. It's also the name of a 1940 film starring James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan as two people who dislike each other without realizing they're pen pals with each other.

You see, You've Got Mail is a remake of The Shop Around the Corner. Joe and Kathleen dislike each other because they're business competitors. Yet, when they go home to check their e-mail, they spend time sending messages to their pen pals, not realizing they're chatting with each other. It is rather funny to see these two characters act so nicely to each other online but attempt to outdo each other in their business. At least it's not the reverse where they're nice in person but vicious to each other online.

Anyway, the whole movie is a series of events with the face-to-face business competition and the online romance. There is humor in this romantic comedy, but it's very subtle at best. It mainly stems from the apparent contradiction I just explained. There is, however, some degree of curiosity on the audience's part. The ultimate finale is partially predictable. It other words, you might know what will happen with the two simultaneous relationships, but the mystery lies in how the two characters will react to it.

You've Got Mail wasn't bad. That's really all I can say if I were to sum it up in one sentence. The story interested me enough to keep me watching. I think fans of romantic comedy are likely to enjoy this movie more than I did. Still, I can see how the film has charm, the element that is essential for movies like this one. You might as well call it "You've Got Charm."

Anthony's Rating:

For more information about You've Got Mail, visit the Internet Movie Database.


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