One of the great celebrity tragedies of the last decade is Meg Ryan’s metamorphosis into a puffer fish. It’s hard to believe that Kathleen Kelly from You’ve Got Mail is now nearly unrecognizable as a halibut. But, I try not to let that diminish my enjoyment of what is, I will argue, the best romantic comedy ever made.
In the last three days, I’ve watched You’ve Got Mail four times. I can’t stop myself. In my own life, exchanging personal emails with mysterious semi-strangers has gotten me in the most romantic trouble, but I still like to believe in its potential. Plus, most men can barely sign their names to an occasional greeting card, so seeing one (Joe Fox, aka Tom Hanks) who can actually string together witty, insightful, and grammatically correct paragraphs is especially enticing.
I love that Joe Fox doesn’t swoop in to rescue Kathleen Kelly. In fact, he never even considers it and has full confidence in her. She’s a strong, independent woman who doesn’t need saving, and their relationship appeals to the feminist in me. They’re both wonderful equals and, even when Kathleen’s business closes, she is entirely in control of her life. She finds another gig and does it all on her own. She is terminally adorable and feminine, but never helpless. She’s perfectly imperfect, funny, smart, and blessed with the gift of making baggy, neutral-colored clothing look impossibly fashionable.
Plus, as a romantic lead, Joe Fox is darn charming. Near the end, when he tells Kathleen Kelly that, if circumstances had been different and he hadn’t run her store out of business, he would have asked her out for as long as they both shall live, I lose it. Every time. It’s such a perfectly sweet, romantic line.
The movie only becomes more appealing as I get older. There are so few romantic comedies worth watching (don’t even get me started on the damn Notebook!), but You’ve Got Mail is a classic. I’ve seen it at least a dozen times and I’ll surely see it at least that many more. It never gets old. Many have argued that Sleepless in Seattle is the best Ryan-Hanks pairing, but don’t believe it. That movie is ass.