You've Got Mail (12)

Directed by Nora Ephron
Starring Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan, Greg Kinnear, Parker Posey

Unbearable twee romantic comedy based on a fairly tired old plot. Ryan is her usual cute self as the owner of a sickeningly sweet children's book shop, complete with kooky and eccentric staff. Tom Hanks runs a huge book superstore that opens near hers and threatens her business. However, the twist is that the pair are email penpals, but don't know each other's real identities. When they do meet as business rivals, they don't exactly hit it off - Ryan being especially antagonistic as it is her shop that is the one under threat.

About halfway through the film, Hanks discovers who his email friend is and also tries to make friends and so we ramble on for almost two hours to the inevitable conclusion that is ridiculously romantic and, sorry to repeat myself, cute!
The theme of small personal shops versus big stores is one that may well have meaning to some people. However, I myself found Ryan's shop a badly planned and unlikely success story. Her supposed story telling sessions were dull relying on kids finding it fun to sit and stare at pretty little Meg while she just reads a book and smiles a lot. OK, so that might work for the dads, but I think the kids might expect a bit more excitement. Hanks' shop on the other hand was my sort of place- lots and lots of books and you would be left in peace to read. Sofas, coffee, light and airey...yes, much better. Perhaps I am missing the heavy handed point. I think I was supposed to like Ryan's brand of old fashioned charm and tut at the changing times where business matters.

Similarly, I did not find either star all that appealing in this film. Hanks is aging a bit and looked rather bored to be honest. Meg Ryan, while still the queen of cute, cannot rely on wrinkling her nose forever. She is playing the same character as in virtually all her other movies, and it is wearing thin in my opinion.

Greg Kinnear is a reliable supporting actor and ideal film boyfriend material. Not too handsome, funny but not in a leading man sort of way, and he once again impresses. Parker Posey,(who sounds like a 1950s gossip columnist to me) has been talked of for a while, but aside from the fact she is about 15 years too young for Tom Hanks, makes little impression.
Nora Ephron tried to replay Sleepless in Seattle, and while it is diverting enough, this film is just dull. Besides, anyone who uses email knows that you exchange names almost straight away! Not terribly realistic. 5/10

February 1999

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