You’ve Got Mail

Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks star in 1998’s You’ve Got Mail.

Books, Mail, and Love in Between

Main Cast: Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan, Greg Kinnear, Parker Posey

Director: Nora Ephron

Plot Summary: Kathleen Kelly owns a small bookstore in New York City, recently threatened when a large chain store named Fox Books builds a larger store across the street. She commiserates with an AOL IM pal, who offers good advice and welcome sympathy. As it turns out her IM pal is none other than Joe Fox, the owner of the major bookseller. Can their budding romance survive these truths revealed?

Riding the rising popularity of computers and chat rooms in the mid 1990s, this charming little tale of anonymous romance pulls out all the good things about IMing without showing out the bad. The IMs are a means to an end, of course, which is to keep the two flirters from knowing that they actually are sworn enemies. The story is slight: as usual with romances, we aren’t talking about major action (nor saving the world). Down to Earth, personal problems, focusing on the individual.

Which means you have to like the personalities involved. Casting Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks might be a “no brainer” (at that time and place in Hollywood), but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true. Sometimes the studios do get it right. Ryan is her usual loveable, cute self, and Hanks is equally cute (in a guy way). Their communications over AOL are fresh and fun, certainly not commonplace and somewhat banal as it is today.

Of course they find out who their AOL partners are. Joe Fox finds out before Kathleen Kelly, and the way he deals with that knowledge is interesting. These are real people, and don’t (mostly) fall into the trap where they do and say things only because the plot requires it. The two professionals carry the somewhat cheesy plot and make this an enjoyable and solid offering of the genre. As more of a sci-fi and/or action movie lover, I still liked this movie.

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