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You've Got Mail

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: You've Got Mail

Starring: Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan
Director: Nora Ephron
Rated: PG
RunTime: 110 Minutes
Release Date: December 1998
Genres: Comedy, Romance

*Also starring: Parker Posey, Jean Stapleton, Dave Chappelle, Steve Zahn, Greg Kinnear, Dabney Coleman, John Randolph

Review by Walter Frith
2½ stars out of 4

I hate America Online. But that won't influence my decision to give this movie the review it deserves, a good one. Having had an account with America Online for almost two years, it would have been nice to get mail from MY one true love, found in one of their usually FULL chat rooms. That's assuming, of course, that she's out there. Instead, what I got most of all from AOL in my mail was spam. For those of you that don't know what that is, it refers to junk mail online. Jean Stapleton appears in this film and has a great line that deserves immortality. Someone asks her if she's ever had cyber sex and she replies: "I tried to once but all I got was a busy signal." I love that line. I am a user of high bandwidth. I just discarded the soon to become obsolete telephone modem for a cable modem so I chuckled a bit when I saw the dial-up system in this movie. AOL is the match maker for the two lead stars in this wonderfully refreshing comedy that plays out somewhat like a Woody Allen movie in parts with its background score and observations on diverse personalities who would only fit in in NYC because for some people in this film, no one else in the world would tolerate them.

Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan fall in love over the Internet in 'You've Got Mail', the film that re-teams them with Nora Ephron who wrote and directed 'Sleepless in Seattle' in 1993 which also featured Hanks and Ryan. This is an innocuous romantic comedy of the best kind. It doesn't feature any four letter words or people jumping into the sack at a moment's notice, not that there's anything wrong with doing that in movies if the situations and/or character development calls for it, but it's nice to see a refreshing change here. It's a movie you can not only take your sweetheart to see but your mother and grandmother as well.

Meg Ryan plays a book shop owner who inherited her store from her mother after she died and runs it with close sentimentality and has a small number of employees working for her and chief among them are Jean Stapleton and Steve Zahn. The bookstore is her life and not a bad one at that as we discover in the film that she brings in about $350,000 a year doing it. Unfortunately, a super store is opening just up the street, offering discounts, unlimited reading time for customers to browse and other incentives that will put her small business out in the cold. It's chiefly run by Tom Hanks who shares the business with his filthy rich father (Dabney Coleman) and Hanks is also in a relationship with a woman whom he really can't stand. Ryan's love interest (Greg Kinnear), is a self made phony. The philosopher type who thinks he knows what makes people happy.

It just so happens that Hanks and Ryan, from the beginning of the film, before we find out anything about them, exchange e-mail and slowly fall in love with each other with predictable but pleasant and entertaining results. Not knowing that they are business rivals through their e-mail and chats online makes you look forward to how their conflicts will be resolved when or if they find out about each other.

What I liked most of all in this film is the way Meg Ryan's character comes into fruition. She's the best thing in the movie and while she deserved Oscar nominations for her work in 'When Harry Met Sally', 'Sleepless in Seattle' and 'Courage Under Fire', she never got one. I hope she gets nominated for this movie. Tom Hanks plays his part very well and doesn't lose to Ryan by much and while his character can be perceived as a villain to some extent, his character grows on you and you find out that he's really a decent guy. Not original but extremely pleasant, 'You've Got Mail' reaches out and does exactly what the Internet does: it touches people on a global level and with that much variety, there's no excuse for not finding YOUR true love.

Copyright 1998 Walter Frith

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