This was originally published in the February 2014 edition of Birth.Movies.Death.
Confession: I have watched You’ve Got Mail about 200 times.
Just kidding, I’ve seen it at least 300 times, but I wanted to cleverly reference the part in the film when Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan) tells Joe Fox (Tom Hanks) about her obsession with Pride and Prejudice, because I am that much of a nerd about this movie. In honor of Joe’s AOL handle, NY152, I’ve created a list that explains why You’ve Got Mail is my favorite film of all time.
1. Nora Ephron.
2. A bouquet of newly sharpened pencils.
3. Tom Hanks & Meg Ryan, a.k.a. the ultimate movie couple.
4. As the Storybook Lady, Kathleen reads from Roald Dahl’s BOY.
5. “Once I read a story about a butterfly in the subway, and today, I saw one! It got on at 42nd and off at 59th, where, I assume, it was going to Bloomingdale’s to buy a hat that will turn out to be a mistake, as almost all hats are.”
6. Brinkley the dog.
7. Parker Posey as Patricia Eden.
9. The Cranberries montage of NYC in the fall.
10. A happy ending.
11. Rose, the cashier at Zabar’s.
12. A Starbucks cappuccino only costs $2.95.
13. Steve Zahn as George.
14. “What should I pack for my summer vacation? Leave the gun, take the cannoli.”
15. The Shop Around the Corner.
16. Daisies are the friendliest flower.
17. Dave Chappelle as Kevin.
18. Commentary on the internet age: “The odd thing about this form of communication is that you’re more likely to talk about nothing than something. But I just want to say that all this nothing has meant more to me than so many somethings.”
19. Cafe Lalo.
20. Wonderfully dated AOL references.
21. A scene that passes the Bechdel test.
22. “You are daring to imagine that you could have a different life.”
23. The Shoe Books.
24. Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours.”
25. “He ran Spain.”
26. Heather Burns as Christina.
27. The Nut Shop, where it’s fun.
28. “Patricia makes coffee nervous.”
29. Meg Ryan’s adorable haircut.
31. Greg Kinnear as Frank Navasky.
32. The neighborhood carnival on the Upper West Side.
33. “Sometimes I wonder about my life. I lead a small life – well, valuable, but small – and sometimes I wonder, do I do it because I like it, or because I haven’t been brave? So much of what I see reminds me of something I read in a book, when shouldn’t it be the other way around?”
34. Frank’s off-key Christmas caroling.
35. Caviar: Garnish or Not a Garnish?
36. Jean Stapleton as Birdie.
37. Joe’s charming grandfather (“I think we might have had a date once.”).
38. Kathleen’s cozy apartment.
39. “WHERE ARE MY TIC-TACS?”
40. The time they thought Frank was the Unabomber.
41. “My father’s getting married again. For the past five years he’s been living with a woman named Gillian, who studied decorating at Caesar’s Palace.”
42. Dabney Coleman as Nelson Fox.
43. Louis Armstrong’s “Dummy Song.”
44. “I tried to have cybersex once, but I kept getting a busy signal.”
45. Saying hello to New Jersey.
46. Joe’s dislike of Joni Mitchell.
47. Gillian running away with Nanny Maureen.
48. “The number of people who think he looks like Clark Gable.”
49. “One hundred and fifty-two people who think he looks like a Clark Bar.”
50. Kathleen, finally delivering a zinger.
51. Kathleen’s face, after delivering the zinger.
52. Joe’s dysfunctional “American” family.
53. Meg Ryan’s super cute wardrobe.
54. “Confession: I have read PRIDE AND PREJUDICE about 200 times. I get lost in the language, words like ‘thither,’ ‘mischance,’ ‘felicity.'”
55. Kathleen and Joe’s amazing kiss (seconded by Brinkley).
56. Frank’s typewriters.
57. When Birdie talks to Kathleen’s dead mom.
58. Barney Greengrass.
60. Based on PARFUMERIE by Miklós László.
61. Kathleen: “And what’s so wrong with being personal, anyway?” Joe: “Uh, nothing.” Kathleen: “Whatever else anything is, it ought to begin by being personal.”
63. Joe pretending to strike out on the carnival Strongman Game.
64. Internet love.
65. The preciousness of Matt Fox.
66. Gray’s Papaya.
67. The moment when Joe falls for Kathleen.
68. The moment when Kathleen falls for Joe.
69. Bobby Day’s “Rockin’ Robin.”
70. The ease of channeling Kathleen when recommending a book. “Read it. I know you’ll love it.”
71. Joe’s certainty that Shopgirl is pretty.
72. “Well, as far as I’m concerned, the Internet is just another way of being rejected by women.”
73. Kevin’s romantic advice about taking things to the next level.
74. Kathleen and Joe’s shame over how much they love checking their email.
75. The charmingly outdated opening credits.
76. Kathleen’s lame mirror trick at Cafe Lalo.
77. George’s eucalyptus candles, which make his apartment smell mossy.
78. “Brinkley is a great catcher and was offered a tryout on the Mets farm team but he chose to stay with me so that he could spend 18 hours a day sleeping on a large green pillow the size of an inner tube.”
79. Kathleen, pretending to be Muhammad Ali.
80. A lone reed.
81. Patricia’s commentary on the Rosenbergs.
82. Wondering what Kathleen’s book will be about.
83. “If she turns out to be as good looking as a mailbox, I would be crazy enough to turn my life upside down and marry her.”
84. Joe’s hatred of the squeaky mice voices in CINDERELLA.
85. The clichéd meet-up device: a book with a rose in it.
86. Living in a boat.
87. The delightful farmers market.
88. Social commentary about big box stores buying out mom and pop shops.
89. The fact that big box stores are now suffering.
90. “Mr. 152 insights into my soul.”
92. Kathleen and Frank’s fight in the movie theater.
93. The excitement over getting an email from your crush.
94. Joe’s strategic competition for Kathleen’s affections with his AOL alter ego.
95. Harry Nilsson’s cover of “Over the Rainbow.”
96. Kathleen rising like a phoenix from the ashes of her bookstore.
97. Verdi Square.
98. “I wanted it to be you. I wanted it to be you so badly.”
99. Picturing George working for Fox Books.
100. The poster of Eloise in the Shop Around the Corner.
101. Tom Hanks’ ad-libbed line, “Good thing it wasn’t the fish.”
102. Kathleen wondering if Mr. Darcy and Lizzie will really end up together.
103. New York in the spring.
104. The way Joe looks at Kathleen when he says, “Oh, how I wish you would.”
105. The Upper West Side as a character in the film.
106. Twinkle lights.
107. Frank’s bizarre chemistry with the TV interviewer.
108. “Thank your.”
109. Kathleen thinking that NY152 would never do anything as prosaic as using his address in his AOL handle.
110. Dave Chappelle’s swagger.
111. The gun hand signs Joe and his grandfather make to each other.
112. Kathleen’s pajamas.
113. Frank: “Name me one thing, one, that we’ve gained from technology.” Kathleen: “Electricity.” Frank: “That’s one.”
114. The Storybook Lady hat.
115. Kathleen, gesturing with a knife.
116. 91st Street Garden.
117. “Happy Thanksgiving back.”
118. Parker Posey’s snores.
119. Joe sending Kevin to check out Shopgirl.
120. Kathleen’s ridiculously adorable sick voice.
121. The Wayne Thiebaud poster in Kathleen’s kitchen.
122. Christina’s tie and sweater combo.
123. “Good night, dear void.”
124. Joe and Kathleen would never fight about which video to rent on a Saturday night.
125. Birdie Conrad’s name is the reverse of Conrad Birdie.
126. The cute prehistoric nature of Joe and Kathleen’s laptops.
127. Nelson: “Perfect. Keep those West-Side liberal nuts, pseudo-intellectuals…” Joe: “Readers, Dad. They’re called readers.” Nelson: “Don’t do that, son. Don’t romanticize them.”
128. Kathleen’s handkerchief.
129. Fox Books’ attractiveness in spite of your inclination to hate it.
130. Joe’s obsession with THE GODFATHER.
131. Matt and Joe rocking the oversized sunglasses.
132. The way Kathleen grasps at her throat because she’s too overwhelmed with emotion over Joe’s declaration of affection.
133. How Joe and Kathleen mouth the words “You’ve got mail.”
134. Patricia’s unabashed cattiness.
135. “This is the Upper West Side, man. We might as well tell them we’re opening up a crack house.”
136. Joe falling off the treadmill.
137. The New Yorkers behind Kathleen in line at Zabar’s.
138. “As if you were one of those stupid 22-year-old-girls with no last name? ‘Hi, I’m Kimberly!’ ‘Hi, I’m Janice!’ Don’t they know you’re supposed to have a last name? It’s like they’re an entire generation of cocktail waitresses.”
139. Joe squished into the kids’ ride at the carnival.
140. Christina on cyber sex: “Well, you know what, don’t do it. Because the minute you do, they lose all respect for you.”
141. H&H Bagels.
142. The guy with the cape that walks into Cafe Lalo.
143. “Never marry a man who lies.”
144. Birdie’s glasses.
145. Dial-up modems.
146. Joe’s classy grandfather clock.
147. Christina’s disdain for Brooklyn.
148. “When you read a book as a child, it becomes a part of your identity in a way that no other reading in your life does.”
149. The flowers in 91st Street Garden.
150. Annabelle’s performance of “Tomorrow.”
151. Kathleen’s shock over receiving an instant message.
152. The romance of written correspondence.