Fans who enjoyed Sleepless in Seattle will appreciate Youíve Got Mail. Tom Hanks plays Joe Fox, son of the owner of Fox Books, a huge discount store that opens a few hundred feet down from a small childrenís book store owned by Kathleen Kelly, played by Meg Ryan. Both of them are closet Internet addicts, unknowingly carrying on an anonymous cyber-relationship. Each time their computers announce the grammatically incorrect phrase "youíve got mail" their hearts skip a beat in anticipation of the next letter. Despite the obvious plugs for AOL and Starbucks, the film manages not to cross the line between "real life product placement" and outright advertising. Youíve Got Mail is a modern romantic comedy with witty, sharp dialogue and an excellent sense of humor. The plot is interesting Ė throughout itís two-hour length my attention was held wondering when Joe and Kathleen would finally meet up and how it would happen.
Warner has produced this film as a Special Edition and it includes more content than you can shake a stick at - over 8gb worth on a dual layered disc. First, the video has been mastered in anamorphic 1.85:1 widescreen, bright and clear (though not astoundingly so). Overall, I found the picture a bit soft, compared to some other recent releases, with a larger amount of white & black lint than usual. During the last scene of the film, which is solid blue, film grain and uneven coloring is reproduced in full. There is very little shimmering and colors are accurate, though black levels are all over the board depending on the scene. The movie is, for some odd reason, split across both layers of the disc Ė at least the change isnít too noticeable.
Audio is recorded at a particularly low level, a characteristic of most Warner releases. The only minor glitch I could hear is a small amount of background hiss during certain vocals. The soundtrack consists mostly of spoken dialogue and retro music, so itís hard to tell how good it is Ė or isnít. You certainly wonít be blown away by the bass or rear channel activity (since there is virtually none of both), but it seems appropriate for the genre.
As a special edition disc many features are included for both your standalone DVD player and DVD-ROM equipped PC (Macintosh users are, once again, out of luck). First, the disc includes a 14-minute HBO behind-the-scenes special that is mostly publicity fluff. Of more immediate interest is the tour of New Yorkís Upper West Side which includes video clips with production tidbits about all of the main filming locations, including the grocery store, Starbucks and both bookstores. Next, thereís a Director & Producerís commentary track plus an isolated music score (what, youíve already bought the CD?). Impressive stuff.
Included are two theatrical trailers for the movie, plus original trailers for the black & white The Shop Around The Corner and the Judy Garland classic In The Good Old Summertime, both of which Youíve Got Mail is based on. In the Reel Recommendations section youíll find eight other trailers for similar films such as Addicted to Love, The Bridges of Madison County, Message in a Bottle and Joe Versus The Volcano. Youíll also find cast and crew biographies, interviews and production notes.
On the DVD-ROM side of things youíll find a wealth of additional information and playthings, including screensavers, icons, interviews, call sheets and the original emails from the film. Thereís quite a few video clips referenced only from the software including film comparisons of The Shop Around The Corner and In The Good Old Summertime, most of which standalone player users should also be able to view by direct-selecting titles (of which there are 67). About the only thing missing is motion previews for the scene-access screens and actual AOL software.
Overall, I was quite pleased with this film. The DVD quality-wise isnít anything special, but the extensive features complement will be enough to woo many buyers.
- Reviewed by Daniel Tonks on May 8, 1999.
1-Poor 2-Fair 3-Good 4-Excellent
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