Reviewed by: Ken James
Easily the best non-offensive romantic comedy of 1998, “You've Got Mail” treats the young and old to yet another delightful blend of subtle wit and humor with the lovable Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, two business nemesis who unknowingly share their deepest thoughts and feelings via the Internet. While some have dubbed this film as “Sleepless in Seattle” part II, I would venture to say that “You've Got Mail” stands easily on its own merits and, in many ways, surpasses those of “Sleepless…”.
Joe Fox (Tom Hanks) is the owner of New York City’s new Fox Bookstore, a self-proclaimed book superstore where visitors can browse through hundreds of thousands of titles while sipping on Mochas or Cappuccinos in a modern, yet friendly environment. With all books on discount and aggressive sales tactics, his new business is sure to put the family-run “Shop Around the Corner,” in business for 40+ years and maker of memories for generations of New Yorkers, out of business for good. Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan), the owner of “The Shop Around the Corner,” does nearly every ethical thing in her power to keep her quaint book shop in business.
In an age when romance often blooms via the Internet, “You've Got Mail” raises an interesting look into the lives of millions of Americans who meet and correspond via email or Instant Message, without ever having personally met each other face-to-face. After sharing deep thoughts and emotions for many months, Fox and Kelly decide to meet in a cute café close to home. This is a big decision and can often be a “make it or break it” opportunity. what will their anonymous confidant really be like in person? What will he or she look like? Expectations run high, almost impossibly so.
Of course, we know who is who and the ironic relationship that has been blooming for many months leaves the viewer longing for everything to work out in the end. “You've Got Mail” is surely a winner and a great date-movie. Things to take caution for: about 3 instances of profanity and 2 instances of foul language. Both Fox and Kelly have live-in romantic partners. It is obvious they do not love their partners, nor do their partners love them, and both Kelly and Fox make things right and choose to not live any longer with an unmarried partner. Furthermore, Fox’s new step-mom (more his age than his father's) makes a pass or two at him, quickly deflected and turned down by Fox. Later, we learn that her romantic interests lead her away from her marriage, though this is certainly not praised.
“You've Got Mail,” rated PG for mild language, delivers a timely and much-needed non-offensive romantic comedy for all to enjoy. Even the male genre, often dragged “kicking and screaming” to such films, will find this enjoyable and well worth one’s time.
Year of Release—1998