Sunday, April 15, 2012

In need of an intervention...

I don’t have a crippling addiction to drugs or alcohol. I’m not a hoarder. I don’t buy shoes like I used to. I keep my collecting habits (owls, Russian nesting dolls, fleur de lis anything) to a minimum.

My vice? The movie You’ve Got Mail. I have seen this movie about 100 times. That’s not true; I’ve probably seen it more than that. I have to watch this movie every time it’s on tv. I don’t own it; I only watch it on tv. If I owned this movie, I’d probably watch some part of it at least once a day. This is why I can never own this movie.

It’s not a great movie but it's also not a terrible movie. It's perfectly adequate - it’s a typical romantic comedy from the 1990s. It’s a sort of remake of the movie The Shop Around the Corner (1940). In The Shop Around the Corner, Margaret Sullivan and Jimmy Stewart play co-workers at the same shop who don’t really like one another. But they’re actually falling in love with one another because they’re anonymous pen pals. Seriously, they write letters to one another and fall in love. Sigh. If only life worked this way and people still wrote letters to one another.

In You’ve Got Mail, Joe Fox (Tom Hanks) and Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan) meet online (in the early days of chat rooms and meeting online) and email one another. In real life, she owns a little bookstore, The Shop Around the Corner, and he owns a big box bookstore and they hate one another. Fox Books literally puts The Shop Around the Corner out of business. They also don’t know that they’re secret email pals. Hilarity and romantic comedy awesomeness ensues.

I can’t help myself when it comes to this movie. There’s something so charming and lovely about it. I watched it again yesterday and came up with a list of all the things I love about this movie. You know I love a list.

In no particular order, the 32 things I love about You’ve Got Mail:

1.     Steve Zahn as George Pappas, one of Kathleen's eccentric employees. I love Steve Zahn. That Thing You Do, Reality Bites, Sunshine Cleaning, Happy, Texas, Treme—I could go on but I think you get the point. I recently watched season 1 of Treme and I totally would have stayed in New Orleans if Davis had planned that day for me. His role in YGM is small but I love him and appreciate that he tells Joe that Kathleen is sick later in the movie. Best quote: “This place is a tomb. I’m going to the nut shop where it’s fun.” Interpret that how you will.
2.     Parker Posey as Patricia. Patricia is Joe's girlfriend and this is how he describes her: “Patricia makes coffee nervous.” Best line ever.
3.     The Shop Around the Corner—I wish there were more bookstores like this. It just seemed friendly and magical. What child wouldn’t want to read a book that they got here?
4.     YGM makes me want to move to Manhattan although I know that there is absolutely no way that I could live in that city like these characters do. Totally unrealistic living arrangements - where do these apartments even exist? How many millions of dollars do you need to live in one?
5.     Caviar as a garnish—I don’t want to eat caviar whether it’s a garnish or not but I do love that Joe takes all of the caviar and that it enrages Kathleen.
6.     “I would send you a bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address.” Joe writes this to Kathleen at the beginning of the movie. I LOVE this line. I would take a bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils (or my favorite pens, Le Pen) over roses any day.
7.     Brinkley is the greatest dog ever. I think Brinkley knows what's going to happen at the end of the movie. He knows people.
8.     The Fox family—so Annabelle (who's maybe 6 or 7) is Joe's aunt and Matt is his brother (and he's maybe 5) and Joe's dad is about to marry a women who eventually runs off with the nanny. Such a 90s family if there ever was one.
9.     Dabney Coleman as Joe’s dad. I heart Dabney Coleman and the whole conversation about nannies cracks me up.
10. Have you realized how amazingly bizarre and wonderful this cast is? Dave Chappelle may be the best example of this. If indie princess Parker Posey wasn't enough, we get Dave Chappelle as Joe's friend. At one point he describes Kathleen as a "broke, single, white lady" and I just laugh and laugh. It's the most Chappelle moment of the movie.
11. Did you know the balloons in the door and the line “Good thing it wasn’t the fish” was totally ad-libbed? Now you do. You’re welcome.
12. Jean Stapleton’s character, Birdie, may or may not have been in love with Generalissimo Franco. Because people do crazy things in foreign countries. Like fall in love with fascist dictators.
13. Kathleen and Frank have the greatest and nicest breakup in the history of breakups. I wish my life worked like theirs.
14. Daisies are the friendliest flowers.
15. Meg Ryan’s haircut. She always has perfect hair. So not fair.
16. The whole movie is about books. What could be better than that?
17. Joe’s grandfather may or may not have dated Cecilia Kelly (Kathleen’s mom). Or possibly they just wrote each other letters. Enchanting.
18. Joe’s indifference to Jane Austen. I get it—ladies, why do we insist guys read Jane Austen? It’s okay if they don’t want to. It doesn’t make them any less romantic or awesome. It's okay to keep Elizabeth and Elinor to yourself.
19. Starbucks product placement. I have a dream about doing a staged reading of this movie at a Starbucks. If it actually happened the world might end.
20. Because I watch the movie on Oxygen or TV Land, it’s 3 hours long. This movie is not 3 hours long. I can clean my entire apartment, do laundry, and write a blog in the entire time it takes to watch this movie.
21. When I was in New Orleans celebrating my 31st birthday, I took a picture of the soundtrack at Peaches Records in the French Quarter. It’s a terrible picture because I was a bit embarrassed about taking it. I didn’t buy the cassette tape but I did buy some New Orleans Jazz Vipers and Beausoleil CDs.

22. Twirling—Kathleen talks how she and her mother used to twirl. I think the world would be a better place if we all just took more time to twirl.
23. “She wasn’t just selling books, it was that she was helping people become whoever it was they were going to turn out to be. When you read a book as a child, it becomes part of your identity in a way that no other reading in your whole life does.” Amen sister!
24. “Joe? Just call me Joe? As if you were one of those stupid 22-year old girls with no last name? Hi, I’m Kimberly! Hi, I’m Janice! Don’t they know you’re supposed to have a last name? It’s like they’re an entire generation of cocktail waitresses.” Another great Kathleen quote. Love, love, love this one.
25. Joe Fox is obsessed with The Godfather. Gentlemen, please explain this to me. It’s either The Godfather or Back to the Future. I need to know why and if there's a reason it's one or the other.
26. At the end, Kathleen doesn’t have a purse or keys to her apartment. This concerns me. How does she get back into her apartment? Shouldn’t she have ID and cab money?
27. “She has no cash.” The disdain dripping from that man’s voice makes me always want to carry cash although I almost never do.
28. The fashion of 1998—the sweater sets, the dresses, the tights, the clunky shoes, the adorable dress at the end. Sometimes I dream that I have both Kathleen and Christina's wardrobes.
29. Joe Fox is smug, amusing, mean, and charming. You don’t want to like him but you do—just like Kathleen Kelly. When they meet in the park at the end, I get a little weepy. Because I’m a girl and that’s what we do.
30. “Are you taping this?”—VCRs! DVRs were not a thing yet. I love this as much as I love movies that have characters using payphones. There will be a point in the future where we have to explain VCRs and payphones to our children or possibly very young co-workers. That is crazy.
31. Kathleen, Birdie, and Christina have a formal tea one afternoon just for fun. I would like to have formal teas on random Sundays just for fun. Would anyone care to join me?
32. All problems can be solved with more twinkle lights. I don’t know why I don’t use this problem-solving method in my life more often.

What can I say? I may, in fact, be a hopeless romantic. If there is an intervention program for that, sign me up.

Quotes from


  1. a) AGREE re: twinkle lights. I've said this many times.
    b) Would totally join you for tea, if not for the plane ride required.
    c) The absence of keys/purse has absolutely always bugged me too!!
    d) I love this movie and haven't seen it in a while - and clearly will have to watch it tonight now.

    1. I realized today (as I was taking a walk) that the twinkle light thing might be why people keep them up all year round. I used to think it was laziness but now I realize that they were just trying to fix the myriad of problems in the world with the lights. Well played, people in my neighborhood, well played.

      I'm glad the keys/purse thing bugs you too. This is one of my movie pet peeves-you can't just be out without your keys. I am capable of suspending disbelief enough in my movie watching; I love Xanadu and Howard the Duck-there is nothing realistic about either of those movies. But people don't leave their house without their keys if they intend on going home ever. I feel like Kathleen loves her apartment and would eventually want to return.

      Next time I'm in Seattle or if you make it to the Bay Area we'll have tea.

  2. I was also watching this movie on Sunday!! LOVE it!
    And I would totally be down for a random Sunday tea party.

    My other big thing with this movie - how does Meg Ryan look so adorable with such a bad cold? It makes me insanely jealous. Very similar to her perfect hair.

    1. She does look adorable when she has the cold! So unfair-most people look awful when they have a cold and she looks like a pixie.

      Tea it is! I'm surprised at how popular that one is! :)

    2. I actually used to work at an used book store where we would hold tea parties... so I have very fond memories with tea. =)
      We'd have scones too, and I'd prance around in an adorable dress that I'd twirl as much as possible pouring the tea. What can be better? Maybe our Harry Potter nights? I dunno, it's very close!

    3. I like that you combined twirling and tea-that's really best!