Favorite things about… You’ve Got Mail (1998)

The favorite film:
You’ve Got Mail, a 1998 romantic comedy from the great Nora Ephron

The synopsis:
Two feuding bookstore owners – one the head of a big-box chain store, the other an independent bookseller – unknowingly correspond with (and begin falling for) each other over e-mail.

(Image via Movie Riot)
(Image via Movie Riot)

The cast:
Meg Ryan as Kathleen Kelly
Tom Hanks a Joe Fox
Greg Kinnear as Frank
Parker Posey as Patricia
Jean Stapleton as Birdie
Steve Zahn as George
Heather Burns as Christina
Dave Chapelle as Kevin
Fun facts:

  • The film is based on Parfumerie, the play which also served as the basis for The Shop Around the Corner and In the Good Old Summertime. Nora Ephron updated the story by making it about e-mail rather than pen-and-paper pen pals, and also added elements of Pride & Prejudice to the relationship between Joe and Kathleen.
  • Meg Ryan worked a shift at a New York bookstore called Books of Wonder to prepare for her role.
  • The film made more than three times its budget back at the box office.
  • The line “Good thing it wasn’t the fish!” was ad-libbed by Tom Hanks after he accidentally closed the balloons in the door. Originally, Joe and the kids were supposed to exit the shop without incident.
  • This was the final film of John Randolph, who portrays Joe’s grandfather, Schuyler Fox.
  • Joe and Kathleen use AOL version 4.0 to connect to the internet.
  • The location of Fox Books is the location of a real big-box bookstore, Barnes & Noble.
  • This was the third film to co-star Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.
  • Kathleen’s bookshop was built inside of an existing antique shop. The filmmakers paid for the antique shop’s owner to go on vacation for a few weeks while they used her store.
  • This film has a 69% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but a 100% approval rating in my heart.
(Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)
(Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)

Favorite things:

  • The opening credits and the song that plays over them (+The whole soundtrack, really)
  • Frank: “The entire workforce of the state of Virginia had to have Solitaire removed from their computers because they hadn’t done any work in six weeks.”
  • The dial-up tone. MEMORIES.
  • Joe: “I would send you a bouquet of newly-sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address.”
  • Joe: “Engaged? Are you crazy?”
    Kevin: “What, I thought you liked Patricia!”
  • Kevin: “This is the Upper West Side. We might as well tell them we’re opening a crack house!”
  • Joe: “We’ll get ’em in the end. You know why? ‘Cause we’re gonna sell ’em cheap books and legal, addictive stimulants.”
  • The Shop Around the Corner – What a beautiful bookstore!
  • Christina: “He could be the next person to walk into the store! He could be… George.”
  • Birdie: “What are you girls talking about?”
    Christina: “Cyber sex.”
    Birdie: “I tried to have cyber sex once, but I kept getting a busy signal.”
  • Joe: “Readers, dad. They’re called readers.”
    Mr. Fox: “Don’t do that, son! Don’t romanticize them.”
  • Joe having to drink beer to get through Pride & Prejudice
  • Kathleen, George and Christina gathering on the corner to stare at the under-construction Fox Books store
  • Kathleen: “This… is going to be the book district.”
  • Maureen: “It’s my own fault! Never marry a man who lies! *giggle*”
  • Joe: “Matt is my dad’s son. Annabelle is my grandfather’s daughter. We are… an American family.”
  • Kathleen: “Big, bad Fox Books can just go to hell.”
(Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)
(Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)
  • Never smile at a crocodile!
  • George: “Ah, the joy of rent control! Six rooms, $450 a monnnth!”
  • George: “This place is a tomb! I’m going to the nut shop, where it’s fun.”
  • Joe’s obsession with The Godfather
  • Kathleen: “You were spying on me, weren’t you? You probably rented those children!”
  • Joe: “Do you ever feel that you become the worst version of yourself? That a Pandora’s Box of all the secret hateful parts — your arrogance, your spite, your condescension — has sprung open.”
  • Joe and Kathleen hiding from each other everywhere they go – at the coffee shop, at the market.
  • Joe: “It’s your turn to say ‘Happy Thanksgiving’ back.”
    Rose: “Happy Thanksgiving back.”
  • Frank: “The horn… the horn… it sounds… the horn… the horn sounds so forlorn… the horn.”
  • Kathleen: “What is it with men and The Godfather?”
  • Joe: “What should I pack for my vacation? Leave the gun, take the cannoli.”
  • Kathleen’s anti-Fox Books rally
  • Joe: “I sell cheap books. I do. So sue me!”
  • Kathleen: “I have met Joe Fox. And I have heard him compare his store to a Price Club, and the books in it to cans of olive oil.”
  • Frank shamelessly flirting with the interviewer when he goes on TV. (+”Thank your.”)
  • Birdie “talking” to Cecilia through the picture in her locket
  • Joe freaking out with Kevin before his meeting with “Shopgirl”
  • Kevin: “If you don’t like Kathleen Kelly, I can tell you right now, you ain’t gonna like this girl.”
    Joe: “Why not?”
    Kevin: “Because it is Kathleen Kelly.”
  • Kathleen: “If I really knew you, I know what I would find: instead of a brain, a cash register. Instead of a heart, a bottom line.”
  • Joe: “That was the perfect blend of poetry and meanness.”
  • Dreeeeam, when you’re feeling bluuuuuue
  • Kathleen, Christina and George theorizing about what could have happened to make her date not show up… and George assuming that he was the recently-arrested “rooftop killer”
  • Christina: “Remember when you thought Frank might be the Unabomber?”
  • Birdie: “You are marching into the unknown, armed with… nothing!”
  • Kathleen and Frank realizing that they don’t love each other
  • Baby-faced Chris Messina selling books at Fox!
  • The “If I ever get out of here…” conversations when Joe and Patricia get stuck in the elevator
  • Joe and his dad living on boats after break-ups
  • Joe visiting Kathleen when she’s sick
  • Joe keeping up the charade that he doesn’t know Kathleen is “Shopgirl,” and giving her advice about the “anonymous” guy she’s emailing
  • Kathleen (On the “152” in NY152’s username): “The number of people who think he looks like Clark Gable!”
  • The final scene of Kathleen figuring out that Joe is NY152 (+CUTE PUPPY BONUS)
(Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)
(Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)
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4 thoughts on “Favorite things about… You’ve Got Mail (1998)

  1. I love all your favourite things and I always watch You’ve Got Mail at this time of year because it paints a beautiful New York City, with autumn leaves and beautiful cafes on the Upper West Side. It’s a New York I believe in. I’m sure it would be considered cooler for me to see New York the way Martin Scorcese or Woody Allen does; but the New York I love is the Meg Ryan/Nora Ephron version.

    Like

    1. I usually re-watch it a couple times a year, once in spring and once in fall. It’s one of those films that just never gets old!

      I’ve never been to NYC, but Ephron certainly paints a lovely picture of it. This film and Serendipity always made me want to move to the city when I was younger.

      Like

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