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You've Got Mail Reviews

This love letter to NYC's eccentric Upper West Siders aspires to be sophisticated romantic trifle in which polar opposites find heaven in each other's arms. But writer-director Nora Ephron's second go-round with SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE stars Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan is a disappointment, as reunions so often are. Bubbly Kathleen Kelly (Ryan) owns Little Shop Around the Corner (a not-so-subtle homage to the 1940 Ernst Lubitsch film on which this is based), a child-friendly shrine to kid-lit. Joe Fox (Hanks) is a cutthroat businessman whose family is opening a mega-book emporium across the street from Kathleen's shop. They loathe each other on principle: She thinks he's the embodiment of soulless corporate opportunism, he thinks she's a self-righteous bitch. But they share a common secret. They're also both engaged in passionate e-mail correspondence with anonymous soul mates, and we know something they don't: Joe is baring his inner self online to Kathleen, and vice versa. It's easier to give in to the credulity-straining conventions of romantic comedy when you like the fools in love: That Joe is smug, oily and a ruthless destroyer of small businesses, while Kathleen is intolerably twee, makes for some rough sledding that the combined star power of Ryan and Hanks doesn't ameliorate. The secondary characters are underwritten (though played valiantly by the likes of Jean Stapleton, Steve Zahn, Parker Posey and Greg Kinnear) and vanish as soon as they've done their bits to advance the plot. The fairy-tale cocoon of beautiful apartments and spotless streets in which the story unfolds is lovely but profoundly un-New York-like: Ephron might as well have shot on an L.A. backlot. And in a film about the ruthless corporate destruction of small businesses, it's hard not to flinch at the prominent placement accorded IBM, Starbucks and AOL logos.