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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

You've Got Mail (1998)



Reviews and Comments

You've Got Mail reunites Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan, and writer-director Nora Ephron, all from the wildly successful Sleepless In Seattle. The story is inspired by 1940's The Shop Around the Corner, and the story is different enough so that it can truly be called "inspired" by it rather than an out and out remake. One scene, however, is lifted directly from The Shop Around the Corner, namely the cafe scene, reproduced here in faithful detail. It was a wise choice, for it was one of the original film's best, and it works just as well here thanks to the delightful chemistry of the stars.

Tom Hanks plays a business tycoon opening up a giant bookstore. He's set on putting Meg Ryan's small children's bookstore, called, interestingly enough, "The Shop Around the Corner," out of business. They meet, get along well enough, but when identities are revealed, naturally there's some friction. The clincher is that they meet anonymously online and develop a strong friendship that just may bud into something more.

You've Got Mail is a solid romantic comedy, and I prefer it to Sleepless In Seattle, which I liked but found too meandering and sentimental. Whatever the vehicle, Hanks and Ryan go great together, and I admire the attempts to use ideas from classic films directly and without apology for a purpose other than a mindless remake. Recycling stories, as straight remakes do, is silly. Watching a different creative team reinterpret an old idea for a new story can be intriguing. Here, it is.