IN SHORT: Date flick for us yuppies
SPECIAL NOTICE: click the Cranky StarTalk link up top for interviews with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan!
Cranky would like to thank a chubby cheeked Tom Hanks for piercing the bleakness of thirtysomething yuppie scum singlehood with the halogen prospect of nailing a real life equivalent of Meg Ryan. Ryan is just plain old patent pending cute and perky in You've Got Mail (as opposed to her pose on the cover of this month's Bazaar magazine, which melted Cranky's toenails). Hell, a guy can dream, can't he?
This is the third teaming for Hanks and Ryan, the second with writer/director Nora Ephron (Sleepless in Seattle). This time out the emphasis is more on sweet comedy than bittersweet romance and, for this New Yorker at least, succeeds mightily. You've Got Mail is razor sharp funny, even more so when part of it is set in the very movie theater that all of us lucky enough to see it early were sitting in. Cranky has never heard any kind of buzz like this, when a couple of dozen heads turned just to make sure that the star pair weren't walking through the door at that very second. It's deja vu even before it happens. Then again, the setting on the Upper West Side of Manhattan (which was Cranky's old stomping ground when he still managed to get dates) lends a New York specificity to this flick. Will it play in Peoria? That's what star power is for. . .
Kathleen Kelly (Ryan) is a second generation bookseller in that neighborhood. Her mom founded the story, she continues and caters to the needs of the littlest kidlet. One day she hopes to pass the store down to her daughter, not yet even conceived, but is not sure that her relationship with newspaper columnist Frank Navasky (Greg Kinnear) is the one she wants. Kath popped into an over-30 AOL chat room one day and has been maintaining an anonymous e-mail relationship ever since.
Joe Fox (Hanks) is third generation corporate. His family runs a megastore chain along the lines of what amazon.com would be if it actually had a store (those of you who are new to the 'net think Barnes and Noble, Waldenbooks or Borders). Joe isn't a happy camper either. His live in girlfriend is an editor who is working her way towards New York trademark self-centered bitchiness that will doom her to many nights in the movie house with her girlfriends if she isn't careful. We don't know how Joe found himself in the chat room that night, but NY152 has been doing the daily exchange with SHOPGIRL ever since. Neither knows the other's name or occupation, and that's just fine by them. Fox opens a megastore around the corner and, still oblivious to each other's identities, they swap fears and revenge plans via cyberspace.
It's a classic idea: you only hurt the ones you love (great Spike Jones song, too. Track it down.) Joe and Kathleen pass each other on the street. The simultaneously shop at Zabar's or pick up their morning topped off grande decaf latte (sic) at the local Starbucks. Ducking the inevitable confrontation supplies more than enough of the cute factor in the screenplay (co-written with sister Delia Ephron) which twists the also inevitable resolution on its ear. How will NY152 get SHOPGIRL to love him, when Kathleen hates Joe's guts? How will she react when she realizes that her worst enemy is her most beloved friend? Them's pretty fine apples to be gnawing on, folks.
Here's the unfortunate bit about being single and over 30 in the Big Apple. Sitting behind Cranky in the theater was a whole row of SWF's with girlfriends in tow, all of whom ooh'd and aah'd at the appropriate moments. When all was said and done, the cat scratch fever emerged: All the ladies liked Tom. They liked Meg. They didn't believe the story or situation or resolution, but they all loved the flick. Which probably supplies the reason that you can find 30somethings in the chatrooms we should have outgrown a decade ago, following marriage and decrepitude.
Then again, a prominent movie critic met his wife in a CompuServe chatroom, so maybe there's still hope for Cranky yet.
Teenboys are going to hate this flick. Then again, it isn't for them. You've Got Mail is perfect for those of us still struggling against the pain of singlehood. It's funny, it's full of good New York conflict, not to mention some killer gags about Joe's family (special mention to Dabney Coleman as Dad) and the apparent sexual predatory habits of the rich and very old . . . You'll have to see it to get the joke, Cranky ain't telling.
GenXboys also get Parker Posey to drool over. Damn, this flick was fun.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to You've Got Mail ,he would have paid...
. . .Then again, after years and years of living off the generosity of America Online and all those free floppy disks they flooded the market with, who'd've thought that we'd actually pay money to sit through two hours of promotional placement?
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