I think we can all agree that there’s absolutely no movie in the western world that can follow-up Now and Then. There just isn’t. There is not. And while I scoured Netflix and my movie shelf to further delve us into more teenage favourites, I thought “No.” No, because if we get all of the ’90s teen “hits” out of the way within the first couple weeks, we will have absolutely nothing to look forward to in the future. And that’s not just unfair. Unfair to you, mostly, but also unfair to me. Because maybe in April I’ll want to watch Bring It On, and I’ll need a reason to justify it.
So this week, I went on a Tom Hanks-a-thon. Struck down with the disease that Contagion was based on, I’ve spent the past 24 hours watching the cinematic splendor of T-Hanks and pals, and I narrowed this week’s pick down to a little movie I remember seeing in theatres and thinking, “OH MAN, so futuristic!” Why? Because I didn’t have the internet. And also, these people were drinking a lot of Starbucks and the town I grew up in did not have one of those yet. Adults! Am I right?
Anyway. You’ve Got Mail is this week’s Old-Lady Movie of choice, so I can only hope you also want to bask in the warming glow of this cinematic masterpiece.
Somebody bring me Brinkley. Here goes:
1) THE DIAL-UP SOUND
I mean, this movie begins with sounds we don’t even HAVE anymore. Young readers: do you know what sound you are hearing? Do you know what that is? Did you know we used to have to wait for the internet to DIAL UP? Like, sometimes you got the internet through your phone, and THAT meant you couldn’t talk on the phone and be on the internet. I remember thinking my best friend was really well-off/lucky because she had her internet by a SEPARATE phone, so we could talk to the guys we liked on the phone while messaging them on ICQ. (Do you know what that is?)
2) This opening song has got to go
I love You’ve Got Mail. You know that, because why else would I be writing about it? We all love You’ve Got Mail. But you know what I do not love? I do not love this opening song. I remember being in the movie theatre when it came out and thinking, “Oh GOD, what did I just sign up for?” and making a snide remark, but then I was charmed by Kathleen Kelly’s apartment that she could not actually afford in real life.
3) Kathleen Kelly could not afford that apartment in real life
I do not want to rain on your or my parade, but I feel like in New York you would have to be a lawyer mixed with a doctor mixed with a famous person to afford that gem of a building. Maybe it’s rent controlled? Maybe she inherited it? (Do we know? Can we confirm?) Let’s assume it’s been in her family for years or that she won a lot of money and was able to buy this brownstone walk-up. (That’s what it’s called, right?)
4) “Don’t you love New York in the fall?”
I have never been to New York, but I do love TORONTO in the fall, and I love fall in general, so Tom Hanks, you are speaking my language. Also, GREAT CHOICE to enlist the soundtrack abilities of The Cranberries and that song that they sing when Joe and Kathleen are walking to work and getting Starbucks and just being productive adults. We’ve all put that song on our iPods and walked with purpose while listening to it, right? (Lie to me if you’re nodding ‘no’.)
5) It is hilarious that Dave Chappelle is in this
I’ve only seen bits of The Chappelle Show, but even watching those bits makes his role in this phenomenal. Comic relief best friend! We all have/need one of those.
6) Everyone in this movie has an impeccable wardrobe
Maybe it’s the whole “90s are big!” thing that’s going on nowadays, but can we talk about Kathleen Kelly and her pal’s kickass wardrobe(s)? Button-up shirts and black tights and skirts and man oh man, Kathleen’s friend is wearing a TIE! Gentleman chic, ladies and gents. Is it 1998 up in here? Because I am PRETTY SURE I saw someone wearing a tie the other day (in a FASHION magazine, even).
Okay, let’s just get this out of the way right now: it is completely and utterly lame that Joe Fox and friends shut down independent book stores on the regular. It’s really, really uncool. It’s also really sad. But can we please not focus on that? Can we please focus on the fact that Edith Bunker is in this, and she is probably what we are all going to grow up to be if we are lucky?
8 ) Do butterflies really get on the subway?
This is a genuine question. Has anyone ever seen one? There used to be pigeons at the hardware store I used to work at, but that is not even close to being a butterfly on the subway and obviously just a roundabout way for me to talk about the hardware store I used to work at. (I used to work at a hardware store, FYI.)
9) This movie LOVES Starbucks
I am not about to go H.A.M. on the Starbucks appreciation here, but man alive, talk about a brand-name shout out, AM I RIGHT? (And can somebody come bring me a lactose-free latte?)
10) Kathleen’s boyfriend (Frank) is kiiiiiind of insufferable
I love Greg Kinnear as much as the next person who loves Greg Kinnear (rented I Don’t Know How She Does It; have no regrets), but his character! Sheesh! IS HE AN ADULT HIPSTER? I know that talking about hipsters is basically a cop-out and one of the most uncreative insults you can inflict upon a person (like, what does it even MEAN anymore?!), but the typewriter love! The “lone reed” poetry! The fact that he hates anything modern or current! She can’t even go on the internet. Like, go grab your fixie bike, guy, and get mad at the rest of us for enjoying the convenience of, say, writing on our laptops in bed while watching You’ve Got Mail (META).
11) Tom Hanks really is the best
I have said this before and elsewhere on the internet, but whatever happened to heartthrobs like Tom Hanks? The man could laugh and joke and act and he looked like a normal dude! He wasn’t walking around with washboard abs and winking and posing shirtless. He was just being Tom Hanks! And he is STILL being Tom Hanks. He is Tom Hanks, and that is a beautiful thing.
12) Parker Posey is obviously just playing her character from Dazed and Confused
That makes sense, right? I mean she’s kiiiind of demanding in a “yikes, simmer down, Parker Posey” kind of way, and nobody here would be surprised if we found out she spent most of high school shouting “AIR RAID!” at poor, unsuspecting freshman. On a completely unrelated topic (and as an actor), however, Parker Posey totally rules.
“How are you paying for that?” asks George, who was also in That Thing You Do! “CASH,” responds Joe Fox in a completely mysteriously aggressive kind of tone. What is up with that? Why not just say it normally? You are being completely obvious. Also, if I were Kathleen Kelly, I would be totally onto the fact that the little girl was about to tell me something that Joe Fox obviously didn’t want her to. And then this would be a mystery film called You’ve Got Mail – OR DO YOU? (Do not even think about taking this idea from me, by the way.)
14) Eating that much caviar has actually got to be dangerous
Now, I have never eaten caviar before because I am a regular human being. But from what I gather, it’s a delicacy and/or “garnish” as Kathleen Kelly describes, which makes me think that eating a plateful could result in some serious indigestion. Also, really, who does that? Who takes the garnish off a plate and eats it? I mean, I would. But I keep that to myself and I certainly don’t flaunt it in front of my enemy.
15) This movie makes writing look really cool
The thing about the ’90s is that if you were a “writer”, you were a really cool, successful person and people like Parker Posey would go up to you at parties and say “I read your piece in The Observer!” And not that writing today is NOT cool (I LOVE IT, OBVIOUSLY – I’m in love with it, for real), but I think back then you got like, $25259258 for a 200-word essay on refrigerator magnets and would be on an enormous float in a giant parade.
16) “Do you think we should … meet?”
Yes I do and LOL YOU ALREADY HAVE! #ComedicTwist
17) It’s Dr. Torres from Grey’s Anatomy!
And she is a completely unreasonable cashier who just rang in a massive order and insists on UN-ringing in the order to make Kathleen Kelly pay in another line. Like, let the record state that it would be so much more work for her to cancel the order and refuse to take the credit card ESPECIALLY because using a credit card is way easier than paying in cash. I get that it’s 1998, but lies. LIES, Dr. Torres. And how dare you be swayed by the charm of Joe Fox over your own common sense.
18) Jillian the stepmother is sooooo weird and terrifying
Remember when she’s holding her son in her lap and then makes a grab for Joe Fox’s leg? Like, WHAT? Also, she tries to kiss him on the lips which is even weirder because SHE IS MARRYING HIS DAD. Like, calm down.
19) “It’s not personal, it’s business.”
Remember what Michael Scott said? “Business is always personal. It’s the most personal thing there is.” I think that’s actually entirely true. When was the last time anybody did something GOOD, and then backed it up with “it’s not personal – it’s business!” Like, “Thank you for that thank you card!” – “Oh, well it wasn’t personal. It’s business.” YUCK. Nope. It’s because it’s only said after doing something douchebaggy. You are kidding yourself, Joe Fox. You need to sign up for the Michael Scott school of hard knocks.
20) Maybe they should’ve sent photos to each other first
Okay, fine. I know the movie wouldn’t happen without the inevitable “BUT THEY DON’T KNOW THEY KNOW EACH OTHER” thing, but Joe sees her at the coffee shop, hangs out with her, DOESN’T tell her he’s the guy she is waiting for (thus making her feel terrible), and then proceeds to basically lead her on for a few more weeks (months, even). Like, COMMUNICATE, people. “Kathleen, I am NYnumberwhatever.” – “Well this is awkward.” And boom! We’ve got one hell of a comedy film.
21) But speaking of communication, this movie couldn’t be made today
I am not the first person to say this by a long shot, but You’ve Got Mail could not exist today. It just couldn’t. First of all, do chat rooms even exist? I don’t think that they do. Second of all, that “You’ve! Got! Mail!” voice has been replaced by a flashing red light OR that sound you get on your phone when you hear an email come in. Also, Facebook. And Twitter! They would maybe be Twitter friends first? And then it would evolve into a “I’ll add you to Facebook!” scenario, but THEN she would see that he was Joe Fox and it would be over. It would be over! It just couldn’t happen today. And that’s why this movie is both magical and everything we want it to be.
22) This movie makes me want a latte and for it to be fall
I mean, right? The leaves and the coffees and the pumpkins, and I get that there’s the whole “spring” ending, but BORING. The only thing spring guarantees is that it’s going to get really, really hot in a few months and that I am about to up the allergy pill ante. But fall? FALL? Mystical. And magical. And Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan walking to The Cranberries with purpose. Let’s go buy pumpkins and pretend we know how to make pies from them. Or paint our faces like this kid:
23) “I’m in … Vancouver!”
I just love that this is the first reason Joe tries to tell Kathleen he stood her up. Like, Vancouver. OUT OF EVERY CITY IN THE WORLD. But imagine he said he was in Seattle? And that he was having trouble sleeping? HEY-O, everyone.
24) The breakups in this movie are so mature
Do you know anybody who’s broken up in real life (key word) so well? “You don’t love me.” – “No.” – “Me neither!” SO GREAT. And then they laugh about it, and talk about who they DO actually like, and it’s exactly the way all breakups should be. And don’t get me started on Tom Hanks and Parker Posey in the elevator. Just magical, you know? Let’s all get into relationships now and then end them that way so we can all pretend we’re in a Norah Ephron film.
25) Imagine Joe just hired Kathleen to work in his store?
You know when she closes the store and goes into the Fox store and she overhears the employee be incompetent? Wouldn’t it be wild if Joe’s idea was just to hire her as a part-time employee? And by “wild” I mean “tragic” because she hates Fox books (BUT LOVES JOE SO MUCH).
Okay, but like last week, we just can’t end on this note. A hypothetical “what if!” situation is not the legacy You’ve Got Mail should leave behind. Therefore, this:
25) b) “Don’t cry, Shopgirl. Don’t cry.”
Oh, but *I* will, Tom Hanks. We all will. WE WILL ALL CRY SO HARD. I love you, Tom Hanks. You wonderful creature.
Let’s go read books, everyone. Or articles on the internet.
“Bark bark!” – Brinkley