The rom-com pairing of Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks is the stuff of fluffy dreams – we dare you to name another pairing that is even remotely close to usurping their royal hold over the genre, at least within a modern context – and it’s one that has spawned three charming features. The duo has, quite memorably, starred together in a fizzy romance trifecta: 1990’s Joe Versus the Volcano, 1993’s Sleepless in Seattle and 1998’s You’ve Got Mail, and while it’s the second title that often gets all the big buzz and affection, we’ve got a big soft spot for the unrelenting sweetness and strange humor of Nora Ephron’s other Ryan/Hanks feature.
You’ve Got Mail is celebrating its 15th anniversary this week (yes, 15th, also, you’re old, I’m old, we’re all old, but nothing is as old as that dial-up buzzing we hear about 20 times within the film itself). It is stylized as a modern take on the Miklos Laszlo play Pafumerie, which was also the inspiration for the 1940 film The Shop Around the Corner. It’s “modern” because it involves the Internet or, more specifically, AOL chat rooms, early email and the then-wacky possibility that someone could fall in love with a stranger over the net. Ephron, Ryan, and Hanks had previously explored a similar idea with Sleepless – that two strangers could be so destined to be together that they could fall in love via various types of correspondence – but You’ve Got Mail dove right into the burgeoning world of the web while still retaining the sweetness of Shop, which was all about handwritten letters. Like all good romantic comedies, You’ve Got Mail has a big, messy secret at its center: Ryan’s Kathleen Kelly and Hanks’ Joe Fox, a pair who love each other on the Internet without knowing the other’s identity, are actually business rivals in real life. What happens when Joe discovers the truth? Adorableness.
To celebrate the anniversary, we’ve selected some favorite scenes to share. Watch them after the jump.
Tall! Decaf! Cappuccino!
Despite being “dated” simply because You’ve Got Mail portrays a period of time when the Internet was still turning into, well, something, there’s plenty within the film that remains applicable to real life. Like Starbucks. Even in 1998, Starbucks was bonkers crazy, and Joe Fox knew that. As Kathleen and Joe get to know each other via spunky, insightful emails, the duo square off on even the smallest of topics – the minutiae of life that combines into a person’s likes, dislikes and very personalities. Joe thinks Starbucks is insane, but he still goes. And the next time Kathleen goes, she thinks about Joe.
“Thither, Mischance, Felicity”
While Joe isn’t a fan of Starbucks, Kathleen is a fan of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, and just as Joe shares his thoughts on coffeehouses with his lady love, she feels the need to talk to him about her literary choices. It makes sense, really, as the pair are both in the bookselling biz, but Joe’s tastes don’t really run towards Regency Era romance. He still tries to slog through the book, just to share in something with Kathleen.
“Where Are My Tic-Tacs? UGHHH!”
You’ve Got Mail may live and die by the charms of Hanks and Ryan, but it’s also got one hell of a supporting cast, including Greg Kinnear and Dabney Coleman. Of course, there’s also the divine Parker Posey, who is nothing short of wholly heinous as Joe’s horrible girlfriend, Patricia. When the pair get trapped in their building’s elevator with a twangy neighbor, her dog and their doorman, it becomes clear that Patricia isn’t right for Joe (in fact, she might not be right for anyone), and plenty of other things start to show themselves to the addled Joe. Sure, it’s cliche, but it’s a cliche because it works.
Cash Only Line
As Joe and Kathleen’s business rivalry heats up, Joe is also torn by the knowledge that his lady love is also the biggest thorn in his professional side. Still unsure how to proceed – be nice to her? tell her? forget about it? – Joe reacts in increasingly weirder ways when they inevitably run into each other around New York City. When he comes to her aid at a crowded grocery store during Thanksgiving, it’s a bit of a tide turn for both of them – he charms; she needs help – and they both see each other in a different light. Added bonus? New York City sass from bystanders and Rose the checker to spare. Happy Thanksgiving back. Classic.
“152 People Who Think He Looks Like a Clark Bar”
After Joe’s family bookstore chain shuts down Kathleen’s little bookstore (damn you, big business!), the pair slowly embark on something resembling an actual friendship. Joe’s charm wins Kathleen over, and the duo’s chemistry turns from flinty into frisky. Joe might not know exactly what he’s doing here, but we do – he’s trying to win Kathleen over as himself, so when he exposes his true identity, she’s already sold. Part of that includes making fun of his online persona, leading to the most strangely funny and amusing comedic line of the entire film.
That Final Scene
Perhaps the very best thing about You’ve Got Mail is that it delivers one of the very best, most charming and heartwarming final scenes in rom-com history. This thing is fucking satisfying, okay? Good luck not tearing up when Joe comes round the park path with his mop-eared pup Brinkley or when Kathleen realizes it’s him or even, God forbid, when she tells him, “I wanted it to be you. I wanted it to be you so badly.” I am crying as I write this, it’s just that good. Also, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” is playing throughout the entire scene, just in case you needed one more push to get the salty ones flowing.