Friday, December 18, 1998

Empty chatroom romance

Movie: You've Got Mail

Posted on Fri, Dec 18, 1998 at 4:00 AM

Our Rating: 2.50

"You've Got Mail" is as pleasant, innocuous and ultimately hollow a romantic comedy as might be expected from the team behind 1993's slick blockbuster "Sleepless in Seattle." It's also one of those movies that doesn't quite practice what it preaches.

The glories of the printed word, for instance, are praised by Kathleen Kelly (ever-cutesy Meg Ryan), the owner of a small children's book store on Manhattan's Upper West Side and a devoted fan of Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice." Her boyfriend, Frank (Greg Kinnear), is a newspaper columnist with a fetish for manual typewriters.

So how does Kathleen meet her soulmate, bookstore-chain owner Joe Fox (ever-sweet Tom Hanks)? In a chatroom on the Internet.

Nora Ephron, who wrote and directed this sure-fire hit after watching Ernst Lubitsch's similarly themed 1940 charmer "The Shop Around the Corner," also makes much ado about the attacks of corporate giants like Borders and Barnes & Noble on neighborhood book stores everywhere.

But the multifloor Fox Books looks much more comfortable, inviting and likely to carry anything a reader might want than its competition, founded 42 years ago by Kathleen's late mother. Joe, too, seems to enjoy the fruits of his labor, whether relaxing with girlfriend Patricia (Parker Posey) in their luxury suite, gazing at the New York skyline from the high-rise office he shares with dad (Dabney Coleman) and grandpa, or hanging out on one of the family's boats. But it's unlikely that the sensitive Kathleen will reject all those trappings if and when she consummates a personal merger with beer-drinking Joe.

"You've Got Mail," while not a remake of "Sleepless in Seattle," has Ephron, Hanks and Ryan offering a similar scenario. Kathleen and Joe, as is obvious from the first few frames, are made for each other and not for their respective partners. And as in "Sleepless," Hanks and Ryan spend the entire movie attempting to make the love connection. At first known to each other only by their AOL screen names, the two cross one another's paths on New York's sidewalks. Later, still in the dark about their e-mail identities, they engage in a fierce business rivalry. Joe, after figuring out the mystery, enjoys some semicruel fun before letting Kathleen in on the secret.

But "You've Got Mail" delivers something notably absent from the screen this holiday season: a genuine date movie.


We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Orlando Weekly. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Orlando Weekly, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Orlando Weekly works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Central Florida.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Orlando’s true free press free.


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Read the Digital Print Issue

October 27, 2020

View more issues


© 2020 Orlando Weekly

Website powered by Foundation