You’ve Got Mail

Review Haiku

Look at the website

For this adorable film

It fits perfectly

Rating: 4/5

Concerning my Never Been Kissed review, and enjoyment

I published a review for Never Been Kissed yesterday and received vehement rejections of my opinion from every angle. Such ferocity, people! But I understand your passion. As I mentioned numerous times in the review, Never Been Kissed is NOT a bad movie, it was simply one that I found wholly unenjoyable. Average, not interesting, as it were.

You’ve Got Mail slotted itself into my schedule last night. I enjoyed it immensely. Upon finishing it, though, I had to ask myself one question:

WHY?

Why did I enjoy this movie which, for all of its charm, had many flaws that I found to be unnerving? Was it the story? The leads? Maybe the script? Brinkley, the cute-as-fuck dog that definitely did not get enough screen time? And most importantly, why did I enjoy it exponentially more than Never Been Kissed?

I’d like to say this question kept me up at night but I instead spent my slumber running from dinosaurs and choking out an assassin with a shovel handle (this is all true). So I’m revisiting the question now, instead of writing about osteochondral lesions.

Predictable: I lambasted Never Been Kissed for having a plot so thin that it was possible to foresee nearly every event 20 minutes before it unfolded. Yet in You’ve Got Mail, the same situation occurred. It was maybe a tad unclear whether or not Joe would reveal his true nature to Kathleen, but there was, like, a 98% chance it was going to happen. The movie would have almost no point if it hadn’t happened. It wasn’t as blatantly predictable, but it still fell along those same lines. And I didn’t really care.

Dumb premise: I found it hard to believe that anyone at South Glen South High School couldn’t recognize Josie was actually 25 years old and posing as a student. Right then and there, the movie kind of lost me. Watching You’ve Got Mail, I questioned the string of coincidences constantly putting Joe and Kathleen within striking distance of one another. That, and the fact that they had a convenient ability to avoid literally every important identifying aspect of their personas while chatting online. It was by their own design, but it was a stretch. And again, it didn’t matter to me.

Comedy graveyard: This comes up a lot with romantic comedies, which I think at this point should just be named “romances” in certain cases because many of these movies aren’t funny at all. Not directly unfunny, per se, but hardly deserving of a laugh. Both Never Been Kissed and You’ve Got Mail had a stunning lack of real humor. What the hell is a romantic comedy anyway? Where is the comedy? And yet again, I found You’ve Got Mail to be irrefutably fun to watch.

Here’s the point: Both of these movies had similar problems, yet one I liked far better than the other. So my quest now is to figure out why.

It’s weirdly difficult to answer this, because it might be something as simple as setting and time. For all I know, it could be that I enjoy a movie set in the fall in New York better than one set in the spring in some podunk high school. Maybe the lack of depressing moments made You’ve Got Mail more appealing. While Never Been Kissed certainly had a happy ending, getting to it was as painful as nails on a chalkboard. There were no such scenes in You’ve Got Mail.

I love books; perhaps the literary themes of You’ve Got Mail spoke to me more than I thought they would. I also love journalism, but those themes fell flat in Never Been Kissed. I can’t tell you why. I’m trying, but I can’t do it!

It comes down to one word that colors every movie review from the dawn of time: enjoyment. Even Roger Ebert wrote scathing reviews for popular movies. Did you like A Clockwork Orange? Ebert thinks it’s “talky and boring.” How about The Usual Suspects? “I understood everything I was intended to understand. It was just that there was less to understand than the movie at first suggests.” The idea is that movie reviews ultimately come down to how you feel about what you’ve watched. Ultimately, the enjoyment you derive as an individual will always drive your opinions. Die Hard is my favorite movie of all time and I get a lot of shit for that, but I’ll stand by it forever. There is no movie in the world I enjoy watching more than Die Hard.

And to conclude this soul-searching exercise, I will answer the question at hand: I do not truly know why I liked You’ve Got Mail more than Never Been Kissed despite the obvious similarities. All I know is that I enjoyed the former over the latter, and that’s what movies are all about.

AOL

Did AOL pay for all the free publicity it received from this movie? I mean, this came out in 1998 which was about the time the Internet became mainstream, so you have to assume if You’ve Got Mail became even mildly popular that it was a massive boon for AOL. And the cybersex industry, if that’s what you call it. I’m actually 100% positive this movie spawned a few sultry chat rooms after basement denizens realized the potential of instant and anonymous messaging.

As I’ve mentioned many, many times, I was unaware of anything important when I was younger (and many will say that I still am). But I remember dial-up and the soothing sounds of AOL connecting, and picking up the phone only to realize that mom was online GET OFF THE INTERNET MOM THERE’S A GIRL CALLING ME and I also remember the joys of AIM and the idea that now I could talk to my friends whenever I wanted to. It’s probably because it was something of a novel concept, but this movie did a really good job showing how the new technology totally impacted the lives of two New Yorkers. There are a lot of ways this could have been screwed up and You’ve Got Mail actually pulled it off. There’s the caveat that everything that happens is actually kind of creepy if you really think about it but hey, that’s movies for ya! Honestly, though, this scene right here would be incredibly strange in 2015.

Final thoughts

Dave Chappelle? What? I wouldn’t say Chappelle was miscast in this film because he has enough talent and charisma to pull off any role pretty successfully, but I have to wonder why he was chosen for the role he played. It’s so…well, normal! And Dave Chappelle isn’t normal, he’s fucking funny as hell and wild and crazy and this role just didn’t fit him. I wish I could sit in on the writer’s meeting that chose him for the part.

Brinkley! Hehehehehe look at him. He’s so cute. What a little cutie patootie. Such Internet. Many chatroom. Very Tom Hanks. Much wow.

Sappiness Rating: 6/10. Not bad, not bad! The ending could have been the sappiest ending of any romcom I’ve watched so far but instead it was a perfectly charming conclusion without too much cloying sweetness. Well done.

Conclusion

I really enjoyed this movie. And in the end, that’s all that matters. Right? And no, I won’t be changing my opinion of Never Been Kissed, despite the essay I wrote in the beginning. I didn’t enjoy that one. Also, Brinkley again!

Hehehehehe good boy.

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