5.02.2010

You've Got Mail


Synopsis


This is the second remake of The Shop Around the Corner (at least that I'm aware of). A small bookstore owner, Kathleen Kelly, and a multimillion dollar discount bookstore chain owner, Joe Fox, are in love online (choosing to keep personal information unknown to each other), but enemies in the professional world. When, through email, they decide to meet, Joe discovers who his pen-pal is without her knowing. While Joe's first impulse is to throw in the towel and give up on her, he ultimately realizes that he had fallen in love with the person who wrote the emails to him, and that he needs to try and win Kathleen's affection, getting her to look past her prejudices and see him for who he really is.

Entertainment Value - A


This is my favorite version of this story and also one of my all time favorite films. Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks are perfect together in their roles. I love the soundtrack.

Moral Value - Failure to Communicate? - 4


At first sight, it might seem that displaying two relationships where neither couple is married but still live together can't be constructive. Similar to the play The Importance of Being Earnest where marriage is made light of and food is taken seriously, I think this is a commentary on the importance of marriage. We see both live-in relationships as unhappy, neither couple is in love with their significant other. As Joe and Kathleen's relationship matures (without any sexual encounters!), we see that the ultimate goal will be marriage. You don't see a marriage take place, but Joe mentions that had the issue of their professional differences not existed he would have asked her out..."for as long we both shall live", a direct reference to marriage.

Other elements that support this are that Joe's family is completely dysfunctional and is even mocked as being an "American family". Joe has a brother who is probably 30 years his junior and and an Aunt that isn't much older than his brother. Joe's father's fiancee (probably no older than Joe) hits on Joe and ends up running off with another woman, which is what his own father has done in his previous 2 or 3 relationships. These extreme relationships are exaggerated to emphasize the importance of a solid marriage between a man and a woman, the only union that can bring true happiness to the human family.

In addition to advocating marriage, the same message exists here as in it's two predecessors (Shop Around the Corner and In the Good Old Summer Time): you can't judge a book by it's cover. Judging too quickly can prevent good relationships from forming, and is ultimately breaking a commandment; Jesus commanded that we judge not unrighteous judgment.

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