Nostalgia On Film: You Got Mail

Remember the movie You Got Mail? You do? Good for you. I've never seen it until this weekend. I'm a bit behind the times. By, like, a lot. I don't know why I never watched it before. Maybe it was the title.

You Got Mail is Pride and Prejudice only in New York...and with bookstores. Meg owns a little bookshop called The Shop Around the Corner (aw!) and Tom Hanks's family are the big mean book box store Fox Books opening a store in Meg's neighbourhood. But they are unknowingly having an internet romance. They have pride and prejudice every time they meet IRL. I wonder if they knew what IRL meant in 1998?

Yes, 1998. This discussion is going to get spoilery now, but you, like me, should have seen this movie in 1998, so why should I warn you about SPOILERS? Really. Oh and the boat sank at the end of Titanic. Next week I'll ruin the ending of Sixth Sense for you.

So, they end up together in the end. Or at least it was heading that way right before I feel asleep. I assume that happened because this is a Meg/Tom movie. But for all I know they were incinerated by aliens at the end. What I found funny about the movie was how it was both dated and relevant at the same time.

The More Things Change...

Meg and Tom have a romance through long email messages. So modern 12 years ago, now it seems so quaint. They did not text each other nonsensical messages like r u there? and brb on their Blackberries. Tom was not Meg's facebook friend. Meg wasn't a follower of Tom's Twitter stream. Both Meg and Tom are in the book selling business and yet neither mentions internet book sales. And ebooks? Yeah, right. Both Meg and Tom would be shaking in their boots over Amazon in 2010. In 1998, not so much.

...The More Things Stay the Same

Meg's shop is a independent children's book store. She has 3 employees who all work there at the same time. Unsurprisingly, she is in big financial trouble when Fox Books opens up. Maybe it's those 3 employees working in her tiny shop at the same time all day. And you know Meg is the type to pay for health benefits. Meg calls Fox Books a soulless corporation and Tom admits that they lure customers with discounts. Sounds very familiar. Just check out Trish (Hey Lady)'s post about Amazon. The comments vary but the things said about Amazon are said about Fox Books in the movie.

Meg puts up a good fight. She enlists the media, including her technology hating boyfriend, but it's too late. Meg's knowledge and good taste are no match for Fox's discounts and cappuccinos, even though the service is terrible. Meg goes out of business.

Now Tom is conflicted about this because Meg is smart, good with kids and his Secret Internet Girlfriend, even though she doesn't know it.

Wouldn't it be nice if the Toms fell in love with all the Megs and wanted them to be successful too? Sure. But I doubt it.

I wonder how many other movies about bookstores I missed? Do you know of any?


  1. It's the remake of an old --1940s-- movie called The Shop Around The Corner...starring Maragaret Sullavan and James Stewart, the Meg and Tom of their day.

  2. You should watch the original version of this movie. I think it had Cary Grant in it...? It was called Shop Around the Corner, I think.

    So is Barnes & Noble the new Shop Around the Corner?

  3. This movie has proved to have staying power, hasn't it? I can't think of another bookstore movie off the top of my head.

  4. Hee. I remember going to see Titanic in theaters, and there were two little old ladies sitting behind us that were chattering away, very annoyingly. But as the ship was sinking, one of them said loudly, "Oh, look! The ship is sinking!" and it just cracked me up.

  5. I MUST watch this movie whenever I see it when flipping channels. "It's ALL personal." sniff, sniff, I cry every time.

  6. Bybee- I'll have to look for that one.

    Heidenkind- It might just be! There's always a bigger fish.

    Kathy- I wonder if there are any more out there.

    Amy- You should have turned around and yelled, "Surprise!"

    Care- I think I'll catch it again sometime.

  7. It's kind of funny how this scenario is played over and over again as technology progresses. 10 years ago it was the big bookstore chains that were the bad guys and the independent bookstores the victims. Now it's Amazon (the bad guy) against the "poor" bookstore chains.

    Technology progresses, things change, small and large businesses alike have to adjust, or they go out of business. Now if a company is doing something illegal and monopolistic, that's one thing. If they are simply trying to make a profit, isn't that what they exist to do?

    And another thing (then I'll shut up), like you said--why was Meg Ryan employing 3 people all day long every day? Why can't small businesses adapt just as much as large corporations? Ebooks give one the ability to publish at little or no overhead cost--sounds like a tremendous business opportunity for the little guy. Especially if the little guy can catch onto Amazon's coat tail.

  8. Laura- Maybe it is the nostalgia factor. We remember going to those places as kids and want them to stay the same, even though we as consumers change.

    I think Meg should have dropped at least one employee (the older woman retired later in the story + she had money!) and reduced the hrs of the others. I think she could have done much more before closing. But then there wouldn't have been the complicated love story. :)

  9. The original The Shop Around the Corner movie is included on my DVD of this film. Haven't watched it yet, but I should!

    This is one of my favorite movies because it's one of the few bookish movies around! In fact, I can't think of another off the top of my head. This one is a warm fuzzy for me, and it's the reason I read P&P, so hurrah!

  10. The Shop Around the Corner is a charming film - unfortunately there's no bookstore though - it takes place in a department store/gift shop.

  11. Notting Hill is another bookshop movie that I like (that some people hate...*gasp*...I love Rhys Ifans). That's the only other one I can think of off the top of my head.

    Glad you liked it. I love Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks together. They have really good chemistry.

  12. Carin, I also love Rhys Ifans :oD You've Got Mail is so sweet (as is SATC) and I love to watch it on a rainy day. Hm...don't know any other movies about bookstores. Many great scenes in movies take place in bookstores, like Hannah and Her Sisters, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind...likely lots more. Keyword search at may help.


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