|Volume 92, Issue 57
Friday, January 8, 1999
the roof is on fire
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Ryan and Hanks remake delivers junk mail
Photo by Brian Hamill
By Jamie Lynn
To coincide with the mass communication phenomenon which is the internet, a cute and cuddly romantic comedy for people absorbed in their cyberspace worlds has been released. You've Got Mail, a remake of the film The Shop Around The Corner, is an ultra modern fairy tale about two anonymous email companions who are unaware they are also business rivals.
While the film has all the necessary ingredients for a successful romantic comedy (Meg Ryan, Meg Ryan and Meg Ryan) and is certainly an entertaining film, it's ultimately unfulfilling in its resolutions.
Despite all of the film's trips down the information superhighway, the real draw in this film is the reuniting of those who brought us Sleepless in Seattle, namely Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan and director Nora Ephron. The two leads discover each other in an internet chat room and spend all their free time getting acquainted without actually meeting.
Hanks plays Joe Fox, owner and manager of Foxbooks, a Chapters-like book bargain superstore which is preparing to open a location on Manhattan's trendy upper west side. Ryan plays Kathleen Kelly, owner of The Shop Around The Corner, a small, independent children's book shop which prides itself in quality service and a devoted clientele. When Foxbooks plans to open a location across the street, Kelly worries the fabric of the community will crumble, along with her book store.
The performances in You've Got Mail are what carry the film. Hanks' charisma and Ryan's adorableness make the audience care for the characters in a way which doesn't feel too contrived. Both characters provide plenty to smile at, while they bring energy and spontaneity to some potentially lifeless material. As well, Greg Kinnear turns in a solid supporting performance as Ryan's column-writing boyfriend.
Surprisingly, the film also manages to keep the sub-plot engaging by looking at the world's current seduction with corporate chains. A balanced argument is presented which presents both sides of the complex urban issue on whether we should let these corporations takeover.
Unfortunately, the film loses its credibility when the screen starts getting saturated with shameless and distracting ad placements. Beyond the obvious America Online plugging, nauseatingly blatant product placements are used for everything from Starbuck's Coffee to Visa to Macintosh computers. While many films have been guilty of similar crimes in the past, few have gone to such blatant extremes.
But You've Got Mail's biggest shortcoming is in its ending. Without giving anything away, the film leaves many issues unresolved. The conclusion feels choppy and quite anticlimatic, which unfortunately taints a reasonably good movie.
There is nothing wrong with a light, romantic comedy. They can be as warm and delicious as a hot cup of soup. Still, unless they're filled with some sustenance, they prove unsatisfying.
Copyright © The Gazette 1999