You've Got Mail
March 29, 1999

Ah, is anyone cuter than Meg Ryan? And how about Tom Hanks? He's a TREASURE.

I haven't seen Sleepless in Seattle, but I can't imagine it being too much worse than this piece o' dreck. You've Got Crap is more like it.

Meg Ryan is the extremely cute, unsavvy owner of a children's bookstore that is threatened by a large chain bookstore opening up in the neighborhood, run by Tom "If My Head's Shaking I'm Sincere" Hanks, in the latest installment of director Nora Ephron's tribute to yuppie inbreeding.

Meg and Tom become romantically involved via the Internet. Yes, it's a perverse tale full of bawdy suggestions and lewd typing! Alright, I'm lying. Would you believe it's a perverse tale full of people staring at computer screens while the soundtrack plays their thoughts out in gratuitous voiceover?

There were plenty of annoying things in the movie. The blatant product placement of Starbuck's and America Online were obnoxious (hell, the title of the damn movie is a plug for AOL).

Both Hanks' and Ryan's characters are already in annoying "romantic" relationships at the start of the film, both of which are ridiculous and poorly conceived. Parker Posey plays a less than one dimensional snob to poor Tom, and Greg Kinnear plays a less than one dimensional smug journalist to Ryan (oh, did I mention that Ryan was cute?).

For sheer squirm-in-your-seat fun, however, the use of music takes first prize. There's not one damn moment of silence in this whole godforsaken movie. If it's not playing "Rockin' Robin" or "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" (and it did, I swear), it's playing chokey original cutesy music.

I think I know why You've Got Mail is so music-intensive. I can't think of many more depressing things than watching people stare at screens. Ephron had to put loud music on the soundtrack so people wouldn't realize how pathetic Hanks and Ryan look talking to their computers. I probably would like this film a lot more if they cut all the music and we were left with the bleak story that lies underneath, but I guess that don't sell at the multiplex.

But back to Tom and Meg; I miss them. During the course of the film, Ryan is forced to close her store because of the loss of business to Hanks' store. You may ask then, what would Meg Ryan want with a man who ground her and her bookstore into dust? Here's the twist -- they don't know each other's identities!

Actually, Hanks finds out pretty early on that the woman he is emailing back and forth is Ryan's shopowner, who he had earlier called "a pill." Of course, he keeps this a secret from Ryan, never revealing his own identity for the majority of the film, even after she is emailing him sad messages after she has closed her business as a result of his corporate shenanigans.

At the end of the movie Ryan finally learns Hanks' true identity; Hanks, the corporate bookseller who caused her family store to go under. What does she say? "I hoped it was you." They embrace in the middle of a park. In the final shot, the camera tilts up into a white sky. At that moment, I noticed a huge stain on the Davis screen, where someone at some point had hurled a large Coke which splattered and dripped down. I know how they felt.

See you at the movies. Save me the unstained seat.