I went home from work today… sick. at 9:45 AM. I haven’t done that since 3rd grade. I hated it then, I hate it now. I don’t handle being sick well; I get bored, I can’t sit still, etc. My version of a “remedy” is total denial. Which, to this day, has never worked. So you think I would learn but, I refuse to give up. I refuse to admit that I am not feeling well unless one thing happens. And today it happened. My boss took one look at me today and said “Umm, you don’t look good.”
So, I’m on my couch and all I can think about is the one thing that I am missing that would make this “sick day” tolerable: being able to watch “You’ve Got Mail.” It is, without a doubt, my favorite movie of all time. I love every element of it. I’ll show you.
Let’s start with the first and most obvious element: setting. It takes place in New York City. I have never been to New York City, but after seeing this movie (countless times) all I want to do it go to New York City someday. I love big cities. Bustling with big business, brilliant people that run those businesses, great restaurants, fabulous shopping, and they are typically a melting-pot of different cultures and ethnicities that reveal themselves through eclectic music and theater venues. I also love people and I hear New York is pretty crowded.
Next, you have the witty and endearingly charming introduction to two characters: Kathleen Kelly–small bookstore owner and Joe, Joe Fox–owner of a bookstore conglomerate. Competitors, for all intents and purposes with diametrically opposed business practices, and yet what they don’t know about one another is two fold: (1) they are surprisingly similar and (2) they know each and are falling in love all through the internet.
They know each other offline as “the competition,” the enemy. They frequently run into each other at parties and coffee shops because they know the same people, work in the same industry, and live in the same area. Their encounters are never planned and thus they both take to the defensive side, verbally charging one another before they’re given reason to be offended. Their dynamic relationship is hysterical.
But behind their rough-&-tough exteriors hide two people that are more similar than they realize. And they discover each other’s “secret side” online, through emails.
Kathleen Kelly, played perfectly by Meg Ryan, is witty and charming with a sharp sense of humor and can deliver a serious verbal sting when she wants, disguised with pretty words and a “lovely mouth.” She’s classically beautiful too. She’s elegant, well dressed, under-accesorized, and striking without knowing it. She’s what I want to be when I grow up.
Joe Fox, played by Tom Hanks, is Kathleen’s perfect match. Unassuming and humble, yet confident and playful. Tall, dark, handsome, and able to wear a suit or jeans well, he’s comfortable in any setting, able to engage and talk to anyone without pretense. He adores his niece and nephew in the movie and becomes like a child himself when he’s with them. An endearing quality that speaks to his love of family, despite it’s disfunction.
My favorite part comes in the middle of the movie. Joe suggests (via email) that they should meet. Kathleen agrees and tells him that he’ll be able to spot her because she’ll have a copy of Pride & Prejudice,a common topic in their digital dialogue. As Joe approaches the coffee shop and peeks in the window, he realizes that Kathleen and “shopgirl” (her chat-room name) are one in the same. Tempted to leave her waiting, he decides against it and enters anyways. He plays aloof and she never makes the connection.
After an intense and ruthless spat, Kathleen delivers her final blow and Joe can contrive no rebuttel. He leaves wounded and with a greater understanding of just how guarded she is. With new insight, he goes back to his computer and writes an apology for having stood her up.
It is with his discovery that Joe pursues peace in their professional relationship in hopes that he can gently ease into his heart the way she invaded his. When she has to close the doors to her bookstore, “Shop Around the Corner,” Joe visits her at home after she falls ill. Her guard down and in the comfort of her own bed, it’s the ice-breaker that redirects her eyes from his role as competitor to companion.
As I sit here in bed writing this blog, my door has yet to be knocked on. Tragic.
The rest of the movie is fairly predictable I suppose. She discovers that Joe is the man on the other end of the emails, they meet in central park, he wipes her tears away and they seal their love with a kiss. Cliche perhaps. Cheesy you may say. But I dare you to watch it and now fall in love with the idea of falling in love.