Dueling Bookstores – You’ve Got Mail (1998)

That’s so 90’s.  So this is about a proprietor of local children’s bookstore (Meg Ryan), gearing up for war when a large chain bookstore moves into the neighborhood and threatens to put her out of business.  This company that is moving in is led by an affable man (Tom Hanks), and it isn’t long before they are butting heads.  What they don’t realize is that they may have already crossed paths anonymously in an AOL chat room.  This movie is a blast from the past; there are so many technological elements featured in this movie that have already become long obsolete, despite this being made only 16 years ago.  There is dial-up internet and its unique sound that will give you an acid flashback, AOL being considered to be a leading internet provider, and people getting excited over e-mails instead of dreading the day when you go multiple days without clearing out your inbox…  it’s all 90’s 90’s 90’s.

Tom Hanks in You've Got MailRemember when chat rooms were a thing?

This has a cute setup, and, as my fiancé has stated on a number of occasions, Tom Hanks is a national treasure (she’s the quotable funny one).  He shares a believable, genuine chemistry with Meg Ryan, as she’s spunky and very likable.  Now I haven’t seen Sleepless in Seattle (90’s rom-coms are a bit of a blind spot for me), so I can’t compare this to their other most famous co-starring movie, but I will say that this is light and enjoyable.  The one big problem that you frequently see pop up in a lot of romantic comedies is when the entire plot of the movie could be solved if the two leads bothered to stop and communicate with one another.  While that is technically true here, it’s not bothersome; they fix this by allowing Hanks’ character to hold all the cards.  And besides, this takes place long before people knew how to properly use the internet, so you have plenty of monologues and soliloquies of people pouring their hearts out to complete strangers.

TrekkieClearly, this was years before Avenue Q discovered what the internet was really for.

You get to see a lot of familiar faces now before these actors broke out, like Steve Zahn, Greg Kinnear, Parker Posey and even Dave Chappelle.  They are able to add quite a bit as side characters that can have the tendency to be thankless roles that people don’t talk about.  The thing about this is that I am well aware that I am not the intended audience for this, but I  still found this to be enjoyable.  That speaks pretty highly of a film when you can acknowledge that it’s not for you, and you can still admit you had a fun time watching it.

You’ve Got Mail (1998) ***1/2

– Critic for Hire


One thought on “Dueling Bookstores – You’ve Got Mail (1998)

  1. I always watch You’ve Got Mail at this time of year because it paints a beautiful New York City, with autumn leaves and beautiful cafes on the Upper West Side. It’s a New York I believe in. I’m sure it would be considered cooler for me to see New York the way Martin Scorcese or Woody Allen does; but the New York I love is the Meg Ryan/Nora Ephron version.


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