There’s no reason why I should love You’ve Got Mail as much as I do because there’s so much going against it. But I think it has to do with the old fashioned Hollywood chemistry between Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan it could also be that so many other romantic comedies pair up some of the most obnoxious actors working today or actors with no chemistry.
Genre(s): Comedy, Romance
Warner Bros. | PG – 119 min. – $19.98 | February 1, 2011
Directed by: Nora Ephron
Writer(s): Nora Ephron & Delia Ephron (screenplay)
Cast: Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan, Parker Posey, Jean Stapleton, Dave Chappelle, Steve Zahn, Greg Kinnear
Theatrical Release Date: December 18, 1998
Features: Commentary, Featurettes, Music Video, Music-Only Track, Trailer, Bonus Movie
Number of Discs: 2
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), German (Dolby Digital 5.1), Italian (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0), Portuguese (Dolby Digital 2.0), Polish (Dolby Digital 2.0), Commentary (Dolby Digital 2.0), Music Only (Dolby Digital 5.0)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 1.78
Subtitles: English SDH, Dutch, French, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Spanish
Disc Size: 32.1 GB
Region(s): A, B, C
THE MOVIE – 4/5
Plot: A superstore book chain magnate (TOM HANKS) and cozy bookshop owner (MEG RYAN) are anonymous e-mail cyber-pals who fall head-over-laptops in love, unaware they are combative business rivals.
Over the several years now that I’ve seen You’ve Got Mail I honestly had to think as to why I loved it so much. On the surface, the story isn’t that original (not surprising since it’s based upon The Shop Around the Corner amongst others), the characters aren’t anything remarkable and the direction is fairly pedestrian from beginning to end. In fact, I can count on three hands numerous romantic comedies that are far better (Sleepless in Seattle is one of them) and yet I find myself revisiting this one a couple times a year and can’t help but stop and watch if I see it on the cable grid.
Could it be that the on-screen chemistry between Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan is that good? That’s the only reason I can think of. In fact, having seen Sleepless in Seattle recently, you can see that spark even though the screen-time between the two doesn’t even come until the very end (there was a brief scene where they see one another from across the road, but I can’t count that one). So giving the two more screen time worked magic progressing in the movie from hostility to friendship during the third act. Not many films can make that transition within that short amount of a timeframe but those two manage to do it.
The supporting cast is also quite good, though often forgotten since you have the spark between the two leads. Parker Posey plays the snarky book publisher so well, Jean Stapleton as the loving mother for Ryan’s character, Dave Chappelle as the token friend for Hanks, Steve Zahn as a nutty/self centered employee and Greg Kinnear early on in his career and only a couple years removed from his late night show playing Ryan’s boyfriend whose nice but obviously not a fit for the character.
On a side note, every time I’ve seen the movie, I always have to smile at the technology that, for its time, was widely available but is so antiquated especially at the beginning when Ryan’s character signs on and you hear that atrocious dial up modem sound that drove me buts back in the late 90s and is now hilarious hearing it today. But fascinating enough, the whole idea of dating or carrying on a relationship online is more prominent today.
Overall, You’ve Got Mail is a fun movie that’s not overly complicated. As the saying goes, “It is what it is” and “What you see is what you get.” The movie works because of the two leads and if anyone else had filled those roles (say Richard Gere and Julia Roberts), I highly doubt it would’ve worked the same way. Of course, today they’d probably cast Gerard Butler and Hilary Swank in those roles…
SPECIAL FEATURES – 3.25/5
All the features have been ported over from the “Deluxe Edition” released in 2008.
Feature Commentary – Co-Writer/Director Nora Ephron and Producer Lauren Schuler Donner offer up their insights into the movie but nothing I heard was all that interesting plus there are a few gaps with silence.
“Delivering You’ve Got Mail” (25:29; SD) – This retrospective featurette has Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan and Nora Ephron reuniting and discussing what made the movie so special after all these years. Also included is interview footage with others involved including Delia Ephron and Laure Schuler Donner.
You’ve Got Chemistry (26:18; SD) – The featurette examines the importance of chemistry and some of the classic pairings from the era of the studio contracts in the 1940s and what people liked about them from the perspective of film historians. Towards the end they briefly cover the pairing of Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan and why those two work so well.
HBO First Look Special: A Conversation with Nora Ephron (14:19; SD) – Yeah, this is your typical EPK featurette which was made to advertise the film and get people to see it in theaters. There’s no harm in including this but it’s also kind of worthless.
Discovering New York’s Upper West Side (10:09; SD) are a collection of locations used throughout the film from the hot dog shop to the flower stand. Throughout these Nora Ephron and Lauren Schuler Donner talks about why these locations are so special to New York.
The disc also includes a music video (3:11; SD) for Carole King’s “Anyone at All”, a Music-Only Track and two theatrical trailers (TRT 2:50).
There’s also a second disc (DVD) which contains the film, The Shop Around the Corner which was the inspiration for You’ve Got Mail.
VIDEO – 3.75/5
You’ve Got Mail seemed to have gotten a bit of visual make-over compared with the most recent 10th Anniversary DVD release. Where the DVD was fairly bland in terms of colors and had numerous amounts of grain, dust, scratches and pixilation, the Blu-ray transfer removes most of those issues replacing it with, from what I could tell, oversaturation. Question is: Does this new transfer and all it brings outweigh the DVD version? And I’d say so. Blacks do look crushed so you’re might not get some of the finer details but overall the picture looks clean and the detail levels on the faces and the lighter objects comes across nicely. Don’t expect this to wow you or anything but I do feel it’s a good upgrade over the DVD version.
AUDIO – 3/5
The DTS-HD MA 5.1 technically speaking doesn’t sound too bad, unfortunately in my case I had to crank up my system a good 8 notches before the audio became loud enough to hear any characters or music. At my default level where I place all movies, the audio was way too soft but once I did adjust the volume, it becomes a little better and seemed to be evenly dispersed from the center and side channels with a mix of background audio for the rear speakers. Compared with the standard Dolby Digital 5.1 track on the DVD, I’d say this might be a wash.
OVERALL – 3.5/5
Overall, there’s no reason why I should love You’ve Got Mail as much as I do because there’s so much going against it. But I think it has to do with the old fashioned Hollywood chemistry between Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan it could also be that so many other romantic comedies pair up some of the most obnoxious actors working today or actors with no chemistry. Either way, I still enjoy the film as much as I did years ago. The Blu-ray, while not extraordinary, has a good video transfer that might have some color blowouts yet still is far better than what we have on DVD. However, the audio seemed far too low so depending on your settings, you may have to adjust your volume levels, otherwise this is a good, and relatively cheap, Blu-ray to add to your collection.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman
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