Site created 12/15/97.
review added: 2/22/01
You've Got Mail
1998 (1999) - Warner Bros.
review by Brad Pilcher of
The Digital Bits
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A-/A/A
Specs and Features
120 mins, PG, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced,
single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch 1:18:24, in chapter
23), Snapper case packaging, audio commentary by director Nora
Ephron and producer Lauren Shuler Donner, HBO
First Look Special: A Conversation With Nora Ephron,
interactive tour of New York's Upper West Side, alternate music-only
track, two theatrical trailers, special trailers for
The Shop Around the Corner and
The Good Old Summertime, cast
and crew bios, DVD-ROM material (including screen savers, cast &
crew interviews, scene comparisons, weblinks and more), animated
film-themed menu screens with music and sound effects, scene access
(33 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1), subtitles: English and
French, Closed Captioned
purpose of places like Starbucks is for people with no
decision-making ability whatsoever to make six decisions just to buy
one cup of coffee. Short, tall, light, dark, caf, decaf, low fat,
non-fat, etc. So people who don't know what the hell they're doing
or who on Earth they are can, for only $2.95, get not just a cup of
coffee, but an absolutely defining sense of self: Tall! Decaf!
Occasionally, a "chick flick" comes around that is more
than what it seems. Sometimes, it's a telling drama about life.
Sometimes, it's an endearing stab at the more sensitive male side.
Sometimes, it's just a damn good script and a great sense of
setting. You've Got Mail is
like that. Easily pigeon-holed into the "chick flick"
category, because it is one, this film may be written off by some.
But it shouldn't be and you can thank director Nora Ephron for that.
This film's strength is Nora Ephron. Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan have an
undeniable chemistry - that much is certain. But this film, in
particular, is Nora Ephron's, through and through. You never see
her, but you hear her in every piece of witty dialogue (which she
wrote with her sister Delia). And you see her love of New York in
every bit of framing. In fact, this film is as good as any
sightseeing trip through the Upper West Side. Ephron obviously loves
this city, and it shows.
The plot goes something like this. Hanks is Joe Fox, the big kahuna
behind Fox Books, a major chain retailer. Ryan is Kathleen Kelly,
the owner of a small children's bookstore, The Shop Around the
Corner. In real life, they are fierce competitors who hate each
other's guts. Online, where they have no idea who they each really
are, a romance is blossoming. When the two online romancers prepare
to meet, obvious complications arise. It's all very amusing and very
charming, and Ephron manages to weave little mini-essays on life
into the story's fabric along the way.
The film has Hanks and Ryan going for it, not to mention the
wonderful script. And since Ephron knows New York as well, the
scenery is always as entertaining and beautiful as the players
involved. In other words, You've Got Mail
is just wonderful. It's not high brow stuff, mind you, but it is a
very smart romance and a very interesting peak the kinds of
situations that have arisen from the Internet boom. Thankfully, the
film doesn't focus so heavily on that one issue that it forgets the
story behind it, and for that this movie glows even more brightly.
The video on this disc from Warner is good and solid. The vibrant
colors and wonderful vistas of New York shine through in full
anamorphic widescreen. The subtle facial acting of the cast is
perfectly captured. Grain is just not here. The lighting is
sometimes a tad too bright, but that's nit picking an otherwise
wonderful transfer. The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio is also good,
although nothing that will flex your speakers. This film is all
about the dialogue, but with a very catchy score. Fortunately, both
come through wonderfully in this mix, and the disc's music-only
track enhances your appreciation of the score even further.
Where do I begin with the extras? This is technically not a special
edition, but damned if it doesn't look like one. The commentary with
director Ephron and producer Lauren Shuler Donner is top-notch and
very insightful. Add to that a special behind-the-scenes documentary
from HBO, and you've got a great disc. That documentary is great
because it includes a very nice interview with Ephron mixed in. But
that's not all you get. Two trailers for this movie are included,
along with two more classic previews for earlier film versions of
this story. There's the alternate music track we mentioned, and a "virtual"
tour of some of the sights around New York's Upper West Side that
appear in the movie. All of this stuff is great, and suffers from
none of the fluff factor that some extras have these days.
But wait! I feel like an infomercial here, but there's more. Pop
this puppy into your DVD-ROM drive and you'll have some of the best
ROM material I've seen. View original call sheets, compare key
scenes in this film with ones from older versions, and jump directly
to your favorite song in the film. Not enough for you? OK, then read
through all the e-mail the characters sent to each other. Ephron
really shines with these, as they almost always represent a little
mini-essay on life. There's some supplemental cast information along
with screensavers and wallpapers. It's really a wonderful complement
of ROM extras.
So what are you waiting for? If you like smart but charming films,
you'll absolutely love You've Got Mail.
And if you're a DVD collector, you'd be foolish to pass up on this
kind of a disc. If you haven't already added this disc to your video
library, definitely don't miss it.