Ten things I love about You’ve Got Mail.

(Alternate title: It was only a matter of time before Anne blogged about this, part one.)

When it occurred to me that I should blog about my favorite movie, You’ve Got Mail, it was like:


Narrowing my love for this movie down to ten things is basically impossible, since I could simply say “I love this movie because [insert entire script here].” But here are some particular things I love about it, besides the obvious—that it’s a love story with books—which means I am predisposed to love this movie.

  1. References to The Godfather: What they reference in You’ve Got Mail represents the totality of my knowledge of The Godfather, but I get the sense that it’s sort of enough. Just the other day, I was at an Italian restaurant and our group was given a free cannoli for dessert because they were out of meatballs right when all three of us had ordered them. And I knew: “What should I pack for my summer vacation? Leave the gun, take the cannoli.”
  2. Kathleen’s apartment/clothes: Okay, I know there is at least one of my close friends who adamantly disagrees with my love of Kathleen Kelly’s 90s fashion choices, but come on, people. She wears these fantastic scarves and sweaters in the fall and even the pajamas she wears in the opening scene are cute (well, at least cuter than any pajamas I own). Totally classy, all the time. And her apartment creates this whole image of who she is—a lover of books and of making a home. I particularly love the lamp on her bedside table—the lampshade looks like a dress. Adorable.
  3. Email as a form of communication: As Lorelai Gilmore would say, “Email is a return to the romantic days of letter-writing. It’s pure Dickens!” I think this is true. I love writing emails. I think they give us a chance to communicate more thoughtfully than most written options we turn to now. They give us a chance to talk about stuff we notice and think about it with other people. They let us know that someone is thinking of us, even if just to say hello. It’s like recommending a book to someone—a way to interact that is just extra-lovely, a way to feel connected.
  4. Thanksgiving: I love the scene in which Kathleen, Frank, Birdie and George are all together for Thanksgiving. I love the idea of a family Thanksgiving and a friend Thanksgiving—or overlapping the two. During my senior year at Purdue, some friends and I made a whole Thanksgiving dinner before we went home to spend the holiday with family, and it was one of the happiest nights (and days, since we cooked for hours) of the year. Also, one of the movie’s best moments is obviously Frank’s “the horn…the horn…it sounds so forlorn.”
  5. the Fox family: It took me forEVER to figure out how exactly all these men were related. What a disaster. Thank goodness for the “We are…an American family” scene in the bookstore.
  6. Frank and Patricia: We know immediately, since this is a rom-com, that whoever our main characters are with in the beginning are totally wrong for them by default. But Frank Navasky and Patricia Eden are so good at being that that I can’t root against them. Frank is in love with his typewriters (and himself) more than Kathleen, and Patricia makes coffee nervous. They’re these bumbling weirdos who, surprisingly, don’t really end up messing anything up. We just sort of let them go on their way as Kathleen and Joe fall in love.
  7. Brinkley: He’s clearly one of the stars here. We don’t need much information to love him. “He loves the streets of New York as much as I do, although he likes to eat bits of pizza and bagels off the sidewalk and I prefer to buy them” is all I need, really.
  8. The moment before Joe meets Kathleen at Café Lalo: He’s a total mess in this moment (and so are we, because they’re going to meet right now!) “Why am I compelled to even meet her? WHY?” and, on Kathleen’s being a very beautiful woman, “She is, I knew she would be, SHE HAD TO BE!”—enough said.
  9. The moment when Joe’s dad asks him if he’s ever found the “one single person in the world who fills his heart with joy”: He asks, “Have you?” and “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” immediately begins in the background, and we know then that the tide has turned and the answer is YES, he has, and it is Kathleen. And then he goes to bring her daisies, because that is what you do when there is a person in the world who fills your heart with joy.
  10. The life stuffYou’ve Got Mail makes me think. One of my favorite moments is when Kathleen writes, to Joe, “I lead a small life. Well, valuable, but small. And sometimes I wonder: do I do it because I like it, or because I haven’t been brave? So much of what I see reminds me of something I read in a book, when shouldn’t it be the other way around?” Maybe I’m thinking too hard about it, but You’ve Got Mail has more to say than its love story—it’s about who these characters are, not just who they date. When he and Kathleen break up, Frank asks her if there is someone else (since he is, by now, totally in love with Sydney Ann the TV woman). She says no, but that “there is the dream of someone else.” This is one of my favorite moments in the movie for what it leaves me thinking about—that there is always the hope for something more. And that there is plenty of joy in the meantime.

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