Sunday, November 17, 2013

Everything I Know in Life I Learned from the Movies: You've Got Mail


Happy Monday!

Today we're going to talk about some life lessons I've learned from one of my favourite movies: You've Got Mail.

This to me is a quintessentially Autumn movie - despite ending on a fine spring/summer day - for our two characters meet cute during a neighbourhood fall fair.

The movie has been made successfully several times:

The Shop Around the Corner with Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullavan (which I also own and highly recommend):




For Me and My Gal, with Judy Garland and Van Johnson (not quite as good, but I own this one as well and which is most famous for the final scene, where Miss Liza Minnelli makes her movie debut as - what else - Judy's daughter...):


But of all of them, my heart belongs to You've Got Mail.  This is a nearly perfect movie in my eyes.  The two leads, Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, are perfectly cast in their roles and they make you laugh out loud and break your heart.  The supporting cast led by Greg Kinnear and Parker Posey, are pitch-perfect.

And there is so much to learn from it:

1) Small Can Survive, but only if it really wants to...Sometimes, you need to let go...

The first time I watched this movie, I was ferociously against Fox Books and broken-hearted when our heroine Kathleen closes up shop.  Of sure, she starts off putting up a strong offense, but then that peters out.  But why does she fail?  It is easy to blame the conglomerate, but in subsequent viewings - and trust me when I say viewings - I've come to the conclusion that keeping the shop open is more about Kathleen's mother and keeping her memory alive than it is about Kathleen herself.  In the end, the shop closing allows her to pursue her dream as a children's book writer, something that she would never have done if the shop had stayed open...


2) You can Make Real Friends Online

Well we all knew that don't we, but in 1998, this is a radical idea.  As Kathleen says so astutely in the movie:

The odd thing about this form of communication is that you're more likely to talk about nothing than something. But I just want to say that all this nothing has meant more to me than so many somethings.

Sister - you said a mouthful.

3) On the other hand - there are a lot of creeps....

In anticipation of later episodes of Catfish, Kathleen and her friends wonder about who her mysterious online friend is, as well as the significance of the name he has chosen to use, NYC 152:

Joe Fox: Mr. 152 Felony indictments.
Kathleen Kelly: Mr. 152 insights into my soul.
Joe Fox: Oh yeah. No competing with that



4) a Bookshop is the finest place to hang out in NYC or any other city in the world...

Didn't you want that bookshop to be real?  I did!  The happiest place in the world for me to hang out in is a bookshop, whether it is a small independent, like the one portrayed in the movie and that exists in the downtown of my city, or a big conglomerate.  I have decided that there could be no Christmas for me if there were no books - they are what I love best in the world.

You walk into Kathleen's shop and you just feel cozy and happy.  Having Jean Stapleton there doesn't hurt either...



5) There will always be Early and Late Adopters

While Kathleen and Joe are early adopters to online chatting, Kathleen's boyfriend is not, still carting around his typewriter.



6) That New York City apartments are the best in the world. 

Oh you Gotham-ites can cry foul, but in my imagination you all live in brownstones with charming trim and nooks and crannies.



So charming....



7) Family is important

Sure Joe is the product of a broken family and multiple stepmothers.  But he's in the family business, obviously loves his father and his grandfather, and loves to spend time with his Aunt and his brother.  That's a good man.



8)  So is being friends first.

Kathleen and Joe start out liking each other, quickly become enemies and then over time, become good friends again.  That's a good way to start a relationship I think*



*except for the whole secret thing - just sayin'

Kathleen Kelly: I hope your mango's ripe.
Joe Fox: I think it is. Hey, you wanna bump into me on say, Saturday around lunch time? Over there?


9) Sometimes you gotta make a course correction...

Kathleen realizes that she's really in love with Joe before she goes to meet the mysterious NYC 152.  This causes her a lot of pain and the relief (coupled with confusion) when she finally meets NYC 152 is demonstrable.

Joe Fox: Don't cry, Shopgirl. Don't cry.
Kathleen Kelly: I wanted it to be you. I wanted it to be you so badly

I wonder how many dogs were named Brinkley after this movie came out?

10) Everything in life is better if you play Over The Rainbow

Judy Garland knew this.  Rufus Wainwright knows this.  I know it and had friends sing it at my dad's funeral.  The final scene of the movie ends with that and I choke up every time....




That's what I've learned from You've Got Mail - would love to hear your thoughts!

Have a great Monday and Stay Safe Out there!

37 comments:

  1. I've never watched that film all the way through but do you know what I can't stop watching? Catfish, the TV version, I discovered it a few weeks ago, oh it is brilliant rubbish telly!

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    1. Tabs - my daughter made me watch it with her and it is a like a train wreck and you can't look away!

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    2. I want to sit and watch it for hours at a time!

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  2. Just watched the movie a couple weeks ago and it it a tear jerker:)
    It also made me sad,that she closed her shop,but i guess it was worth it,as she found love and her true profession(writing).

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    1. I know - I want that shop to still be open, run by one of the staff!

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  3. Aww, this is one of my favourite movies of all time! I have the DVD and have watched it countless times. It came out at around the time Indigo had arrived and many of the independent bookstores around Toronto were going under - that part of the movie really resonated with me.

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    1. whoops! My response to you is down below Louise!

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  4. Oh, this is one of my all-time favourite movies too! And I so agree about the New York brownstones - love everything about them, especially if located on a tree-lined street a la Sex and the City.

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    1. Just makes you want to live in NYC...

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  5. I loved that movie. Loved Meg Ryan pre-duck lips.

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    1. That breaks my heart - I am not at all for plastic surgery and she is one of the reasons why!

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    2. yes she was lovely before all of that and would have aged beautifully.

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  6. Vaguely remember this movie and I must say I think I lived in new York just before or after this movie came out and you know what's coming...there is a better chance of her lat being true than a waitress who worked in central perk affording a huge two bedroom apt in the village! But those two were Americas sweethearts and I think they made the movie come alive.

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    1. OH CSW - I am convinced that she inherited the apartment from her mother when she inherited the shop, so she was probably okay!

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  7. I know! When Chapters opened, I was worried for the little shop downtown, but it is still doing well, focussing on a different clientele!

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  8. I will never get tired of watching this movie. The city is as much a character and Meg Ryan's outfits were truly divine. One downside, Meg Ryan got too typecast in these romcom movies that she found it hard to find success in other roles. I don't care, I adore these "meet-cute" movies of hers.

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    1. Me, too Marie - and I think if she had not altered her appearance with plastic surgery, she might have been able to age more gracefully into other roles, as she is quite talented!

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  9. MAILED IT I can only take Meg Ryan in small doses in part for the rom com reasons Marie notes above. But there was a good article on her and the Ephron sisters in recent Vogue, the one with Sandra Bullock cover.

    Just always assumed this was going to be more Harry Met Sally, French Kiss, Sleepless etc. - I like you, I don't like you, of course I love you. So have never seen it start to finish, just snippets from the telly. But maybe I will give it a shot over the holidays, thanks to your insights WMM.

    These posts are a winner.

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    1. Oh I love Meg and the romantic comedy formula is one of the classic romantic movie and literature archtypes and I do not think anyone did it better than Nora. I did read that article and it made me sad for our loss of Nora.

      The firs time I met Barry I thought he was arrogant. I think in fact that there is something to rings quite true about some of these rom-coms, though they are taken to extremes for theatrical purpose!

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  10. The bookshop! I HAVE to go in bookshops, where ever we are; MLane loves books but could skip that part. I'd need to be a higher pay-grade to afford that nifty apartment.

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    1. Well remember - you've inherited it, so you are okay! We could haunt bookshops together!

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  11. Oh this is one of my favourite "Everything I Know in Life I Learned from the Movies" post so far... I agree with so many things you write. Yes I do love books, very, very much. And I like browsing in book stores and I always offer books... But I never have considered the side where Kathleen would not have written children books should her store have stayed open. You're so right!!!
    Thanks for this post Wendy.
    Love
    Steph

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    1. Thanks Steph! Writing these makes me think more about these movies that I love!

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  12. My comment got eaten.
    I love this movie and watch it every time I catch it on TV (sometimes even back to back)
    I love the city, the energy, Kathleen's naïveté and charm. I see a lot of myself in her. I love that Joe doesn't give up looking for what he is missing - a true partner even though he is surrounded by bad examples.
    This movie taught me not to get hung up in first impressions. People might surprise you and often the ones I thought were not so great turn out to be more wonderful than those who were charming from the start.

    Love this movie, the only thing I would
    change would be Kathleen's baggy shapeless pants at the end. She is too cute for them.

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    1. Great thoughts, A! I couldn't agree more! She does rock a tomboy-chic look doesn't she and those trousers are definitely not the most flattering for her!

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  13. Oh you KNOW I had to comment on this one. This is probably my favorite movie ever, which is always a bit disconcerting to people who know me and my movie tastes. People associate it with Sleepless in Seattle but they are like night and day to me. This movie IS perfection in its genre. I went through your same reaction curb over the years: at first I detested Fox and his big chain, then I saw him more like the one who saves her from the past and I got more and more smitten with him. My favorite scene is the one at the supermarket, I always laugh. The next tine you come to NY you have to go and have a coffee at the cafe where he finds out who she really is (it's on the UWS).

    Would you wish Barry a happy belated birthday on my behalf? He is the man!!!!

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    1. Oh my god - you will have to take me Ema! I will be giddy with excitement! I will definitely wish him a happy birthday! I like the supermarket scene, too - it seems like something that would happen to Barry and I - me being churlish, he being charming!

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    2. Right, you've all converted me. Renting and watching, will give "America's sweetheart" another go. At the very least I will have the bookshop, brownstones and supermarket.

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    3. The cafe has become such a touristy spot that it is in all the guides and tours of NYC.
      I also love Greg Kinnear in the movie (and in general), too bad he is getting old.

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    4. EMA!!!! HE IS THE SAME AGE AS ME!!!!!! I just looked it up!!!!!! I think you are buying lunch at the café, girl!

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    5. Wendy but he doesn't have your skin now does he! We can't all be genetically gifted...
      I also love love this movie, own a copy, have watched it many times, have the same reactions.

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  14. I love this movie too (yes, pre-plastic surgery Megs). Love the story and the filming locations. Wendy - for your next NYC trip: http://www.onthesetofnewyork.com/youvegotmail.html

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  15. I've known a couple of used bookstores that remind me of Kathleen's shop. One had cats! The trend toward closing brick and mortar bookstores makes me sad. I love browsing. The library works too but it doesn't have the same atmosphere. I did like this movie, it was perfectly timed on the cusp of online relationships becoming a thing. It was very well done.

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    1. we have a used bookstore downtown with a cat and two or three others with dogs! I agree - love the library but adore a bookshpp!

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  16. I did not know that movie had been made not one but two times before. Adore old movies so I will be seeking these out. Also another truth, try as I did - and for many years I had a very dodgy short hair cut - its impossible to imitate the adorableness of Meg Ryan's hair.

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    1. Jody - we would have a grand time - I am an old movie nut - off to watch an old Bette Davis movie I have never seen - Deception - taped it on the weekend!

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