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Sequels Continue to Arrive as 'Mamma Mia 2', 'Equalizer 2' and 'Unfriended 2' Hit Theaters
SATURDAY AM UPDATE: With an estimated $14.7 million, Universal's Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again led the way, heading toward what could be a $40 million opening weekend, well ahead of the $27.7 million opening for the original. The film received an "A-" CinemaScore from opening day audiences. Internationally, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again opened in 41 markets this weekend including major markets U.K. & Ireland, Germany, Australia, Sweden and Spain. The film has so far grossed $2...

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You've Got Mail: "It's Okay"
A review of You've Got Mail
by J. D. Rummel

Ask someone who has seen You've Got Mail what they think of the film. Odds are they will respond with: "It's okay."

Director: Nora Ephron

Stars: Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan, Parker Posey, Greg Kinnear, Jean Stapleton, Steve Zahn, David Chapelle, Dabney Coleman

Rating: PG

Release: 12-18-1998

Time: 119 minutes

Buy Movie at Amazon.com This is an odd response to a film that the public has been eagerly awaiting since the ultra-successful Sleepless in Seattle. Not coincidentally both films feature Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan and the anticipation is the result of their tremendous on screen electricity. Mail is the creation of Nora Ephron, the screenwriter and director of the mega-hit Sleepless. Mail is based on the old Jimmy Stewart movie, The Shop Around the Corner. In both movies, two correspondents that have never seen each other find a strong mutual attraction. The trick is that neither is aware that the person they so desire in their letters is an individual they know and detest in person. In Shop the lovebirds are pen pals. In Mail they are the equally faceless exchangers of electronic mail. There are lots of dynamics examined here, for instance, big business versus mom-and-pop shops. But the real issue raised is ignored. How is it that the folks that we are attracted to can also so turn us off? How odd is it that we can find someone totally lovable in one context and yet undesirable in another? And how do we rise above this contrast? How many times have we closed the door on someone who might have changed our lives because we judged them in only one arena?

Furthermore, Ryan's character is driven out of business by Hanks' business savvy. She recovers from this loss, and she forgives him almost magically. There is no exploration of some very real hurt here. Nor, does Hanks attempt to rectify or address the fact that he has hurt someone he has come to love.

Hanks and Ryan are so chemically powerful on screen that these flaws are forgiven, but the film cannot recover its potential and instead of soaring, it just sort of plods to an expected but unearned conclusion. Mail is an excellent example of a film with powerful ingredients, the ultimate impact of which is subverted by a script that does not feature laser-like precision. Because the script does not know what points it wants to make, the film therefore leaves things open ended.

Not that this is killing the movie. The Hanks and Ryan chain lightning combination delivered a huge line at my local uberplex over the Christmas holiday.