Why Anyone With A Soul Loves "You've Got Mail"
A lover and a hater rewatch a classic on its 15th Anniversary.
Today marks the 15th anniversary of a very special film: 1998's You've Got Mail, written and directed by the inimitable Nora Ephron. To mark the occasion, BuzzFeed put two diametrically opposed viewers into a room for a rewatch: a You've Got Mail lover (Katie Heaney, who owns the DVD and watches it at LEAST once a year and probably more), and a hater (Arianna Rebolini, who saw it once with her mom, when it came out, and deemed it "kind of lame.")
Arianna: I want to put on record that I love Tom Hanks in everything that he does.
Katie: God, the opening credits on older movies are out of control. It's so long before the actual movie starts.
Katie: Oh! I always forget, she has the best apartment. Realistic and appropriate for a woman with a bankrupt bookstore. Are you already pissed off?
Arianna: Not yet, I'm just remembering: this is what I thought New York adulthood would be.
Arianna: It's funny they both treat this chatroom use like a bad habit they're both ashamed of. I guess my issue, my first issue with the movie, is that there's no way it's not going to be dated.
Katie: Because they're using what was then a modern technology?
Arianna: Because we're supposed to think it's like, the Big Bad Internet.
Katie: I think that adds to its charm! It's like watching people sending each other love letters in the 19th century.
[During Meg's 'You've Got Mail' monologue]
Katie: It's just desperately romantic.
Arianna: And it is a very quintessentially New York movie, I did forget that.
Katie: It's my first time watching this since moving here, actually. It seems there are not enough people on the sidewalks.
Arianna: I do remember liking her bookstore. That's what I wanted when I grew up.
Katie: A bankrupt bookstore.
Katie: I really love their aggressive menswear in this movie. Like look at those collars and that tie.
Arianna: No one else would look good in those pants.
Katie: I like how they just met in "the over 30 room." You know, the one "over 30" room, on the Internet.
Arianna: It's just so funny to me, like the idea of Nora Ephron being like, "let's write about a cyber relationship." And here's the token old lady who's not too lame to try to get involved in cybering.
Katie: In forty years *we'll* be the old people in a movie talking about how we used to text boys. Instead of writing them letters.
Arianna: "So then he sent me a Snapchat..."
Arianna: I hate Frank so much.
Katie: I know. He's not even charmed by old things. He's charmed by his own fascination with old things. And his own words. I think, unfortunately, this is what I thought writers were like before I ever knew I'd become one myself.
Arianna: I think there probably are still people who fetishize typewriters. Can you imagine not being able to backspace?
Katie: No, I mess up way too much. I'm afraid I dated someone like Frank.
Arianna: Yeah, he's everyone I went to college with.
Arianna: Do you think Kathleen is a little Manic Pixie Dream Girl-ish? Like a little more understandable, more realistic, but still with this magical view of the world?
Katie: I think she's whimsical without being shallow. Like when Frank says something stupid, she calls him on it. A Manic Pixie Dream Girl doesn't do that because she's just a filler character, supplementary to the guy.
Arianna: See I think the store looks kind of nice? I like a discount bookstore. I'm from suburbia and I think I like, took offense to this because Fox is the type of bookstore I shopped at.
Katie: I mean, me too! I think the thing is that you seem very invested in the business angle of this story and I don't really care. That is not the important part.
Arianna: Do you think Joe likes her at this point?
Katie: Yeah. Yes. I think she doesn't like him yet though.
Arianna: And that's why he's nervous.
Katie: I think with this caviar part, this is what Nora Ephron excelled at like no one else, these tiny moments of human behavior at a party that reveal so much about these two people in such a charming way.
Arianna: Yeah and like, Kathleen's silence in this scene. It's just so painful, I feel like I know that moment.
Katie: Yes, she's overcome and overwhelmed. The knife!
Arianna: Frank is really the equivalent of Bernie or whatever in When Harry Met Sally, "I've never had me quoted to me before."
Katie: Totally. These are guys that Nora Ephron dated at some point and put in a movie. Which I think is the best.
Katie: This part, where they're talking about their ability to insult other people, always sits with me for a while. I relate to Tom Hanks I think, like I think I'm good at coming up with that cutting line. I sometimes feel a little bad, though this movie makes me feel like I should feel WORSE.
Arianna: Ultimately, though, Tom Hanks is a good guy. Even though he's good at the zingers.
Arianna: There was a time when I was 16 and I messaged this guy on MySpace who lived a few towns over and he asked me to go to a movie and I just never responded, it was too terrifying.
Katie: It's probably good you didn't. You might not be here today.
Arianna: Do you remember when you could pick your font and everything, and it was so expressive of, like, who you were? Do you remember your first screen name?
Katie: It was 'mercury1125.' 11/25 is my birthday, 'mercury' was for Freddie Mercury. What was yours??
Arianna: I don't even want to say. But it was "xxbreakatthebendxx." Which is from a Fuel song.
Katie: I do that. A lot.
Arianna: The punches in the air? Is it invigorating?
Katie: It is. I always want to do it when I'm on the elliptical. But I don't.
[Frank's TV segment]
Arianna: He is just the worst.
Katie: I know. But he and the TV host are like, BOTH the worst. Together. Which is kind of nice.
Arianna: And I suppose he is still being supportive of Kathleen.
Katie: I like how Kathleen is just disgusted by it and over it at the same time. She's like, "Are you serious, Frank."
Arianna: Frank is someone who says he doesn't even own a television. Oh, I feel like 'coming on to you' is a phrase people don't say anymore but was big in 90s rom-coms.
Katie: You're laughing!!!!
Arianna: I am laughing. OK, you're right. There are dating insights here that 12-year-old me probably couldn't appreciate.
Katie: This is why I would *NEVER* go on a blind date.
Katie: This is, okay, like when you get a crush on someone from social media, this is what you think. You know each other SO well but only in this one way, and you meet and think, it'll be like 'You've Got Mail' and it'll fill out naturally. But it NEVER IS.
Arianna: As a romantic comedy trope, I do love the "they hate each other so much and then THEY LOVE EACH OTHER!'
Katie: I know, me too, but it's the WORST one because it's NOT real.
Arianna: Yes, because then you put up with so much. "Oh, he's probably really cool underneath!"
Katie: "He's probably so great in ways there's no evidence for at this time!"
Katie: This excuse-making she's doing, for why he "didn't show up," is what we do, but with texting.
Arianna: Exactly. "He probably didn't have service! He was probably underground."
Katie: "No service for the entire day!"
Arianna: "Yeah, weird thing!" But it's a bold move, emailing him after he stands her up.
Katie: I know, this part is really brave. I don't think I'd do that. She's really honest too, like, "you fucked up and it was wrong."
Arianna: Yeah this is the perfect way this email could have gone. She's like the bigger person but ALSO gets to make him feel like an asshole.
Katie: Yes! The ideal email.
Arianna: Oh and his email back. I would be very into that. Like, "Ooh, so mysterious."
Katie: I always remember this part, that being brave is daring to believe your life could be different. That is so smart and true.
Arianna: Yeah, I love this old lady. And this scene passes the Bechdel test, which is awesome.
Katie: I like that even though you can tell Kathleen and Frank aren't going to end up together, you can tell why they got together. They have a fun banter thing going on. It's not like other romantic comedies where right away you're like, "why's he with HER" because you know he'll end up with the perfect cool babe instead.
Arianna: Yeah, the significant others in this movie aren't just convenient obstacles. They have common interests. And I actually think Greg Kinnear is super dreamy.
Katie: Oh me too. This isn't his peak, maybe.
Arianna: Yeah his hair is weird. He's super dreamy in As Good As It Gets.
Katie: Did you have the shoe books?
Arianna: No— wait!
Katie: With the little necklaces!
Arianna: Wait YES!!! OH MY GOD, I haven't thought about that in years. Wait OH MY GOD that's Danny Castellano.
Katie: Chris Messina! So nerdy and little!!
Arianna: He's like 16. Ugh, Meg Ryan has a really good crying face. Like she still looks really cute.
Katie: See like this is really cool and nice of Patricia, suggesting Kathleen would be a great children's book editor.
Arianna: Yeah I want to know more about her. She's kind of a bitch to Joe and I like it.
Katie: If I were her I'd probably be so annoyed by how nonchalant and reserved he is about everything that I'd be a neurotic basket case (like, more of one) too.
Arianna: Yeah it's deserved. He's really flippant. We're supposed to not like her, right?
Katie: I think we're supposed to not like her, but not absolutely. She's annoying. But she and Frank both have redeeming qualities.
[Kathleen remembers her and mom twirling]
Arianna: Oh yeah I remember this. Very sentimental.
Katie: Yeah this is kind of a stand-out weird moment in this movie.
Arianna: It is sad when businesses close.
Katie: I take back what I said about not caring about this part of the storyline, I do. I just get much more invested in the relationship part but this is definitely sad.
Arianna: I want both worlds, the independent store and the big box.
Katie: *clasps hands to face when Joe realizes he loves Kathleen*
Arianna: OK yes, you know what, I'm warming up to this now.
Katie: I just love her attitude. I don't want her to take this insult back, it was a good line.
Arianna: I remember him finding out much earlier who she was, and I never put it together that they both knew the other was in a relationship.
Katie: It's not clear when they told each other, I sort of think it was only once they knew their relationships were ending.
Arianna: Oh, there it was, her moment. She likes him now.
Arianna: I forgot he spends this time making fun of himself.
Katie: It's very meta.
Arianna: It's saying something deep but I don't know what it is.
Katie: All I know is that it's perfect.
Arianna: This is SO WEIRD. Is this a plan or is he just messing with her?
Katie: I think it's sort of a plan, like he's giving her more time before she meets him, so that THEY can get to know each other. I don't know.
Arianna: That's a weird thing, why couldn't she be with someone who had a boat?
Katie: Maybe she thinks they'll like ... suddenly sail away?
Arianna: She's worn literally nothing but sweater sets this entire time.
Katie: "As long as we both shall live." Whoa. They've been hanging out for like a weekend.
Arianna: Yeah, that was intense.
Katie: She's like physically trying to hold in her butterflies.
Arianna: At this point I think he really can't tell if she's going to be psyched or not when she finds out it's him. Right? He's doubting it.
Katie: Yeah I think so.
Katie: Omg I'm watching you smiling!!!!
Arianna: Yeah, ok, this is really sweet. Look at her face!
Katie: YOU LOVE IT!
Arianna: I get it, I buy it. I love it. This is what I want to look like when I cry. Her cute little scrunch face.
Katie: This was the easiest conversion ever. There is no person with a soul who doesn't like this movie.
Arianna: Awww he called her Shopgirl.
Katie: You like it more than me now even.
Arianna: If we weren't watching this in an office I'd be crying right now.
Katie: You kind of are!! Your eyes are red.
Katie: Oh that was such a good slow move-in kiss.
Arianna: OK, I'm gonna say that it makes more sense now. With Sleepless in Seattle, it's romantic when you're younger but now you're like, oh, right, they've never spoken and they're gonna hate each other in a week. But these two, they know each other.
Katie: They do. They found love on the internet.