When asked, “What’s your favorite movie?” The first movie to come to my mind is almost always “A Cinderella Story.” Of the hundreds of Hallmark movies I’ve watched, “Bottled with Love” is one of my all-time favorites. And, while I love rom-coms, I haven’t seen very many adult rom-coms unless they were Hallmark. Otherwise, I’ve watched mostly teen movies. So, when my best friend told me the movie for today’s girls’ night was “You’ve Got Mail,” I was excited. This was my chance to finally watch the movie that seems to have started it all for the “pen pals to lovers” trope. Unfortunately, I was disappointed.
I’ll start with my highlights. I loved the soundtrack and I liked the setting. Funnily enough, I was wearing an “I ❤ NYC” shirt today, which went perfectly with the movie. I also loved that every time Joe talked all I heard was Woody. And that his kid-aunt was played by an actress I’ve liked in several roles, particularly “Flight 29 Down.” Moreover, I liked that the boyfriend was played by the dad from “The Last Song,” another of my favorite movies.
What I did not love was, well, pretty much everything else. There was so much potential in this movie and it was all wasted. An ending that could have been perfect was tainted by the first hour and a half of awfulness. I acknowledge the Hallmark movies I love always tie everything up in the last five to ten minutes, but it always follows the consequences and resolution of the rest of the movie. So, what felt like a far too quick tie-up to this movie would’ve been fine with me if it wasn’t for everything else. Joe (NY152) and Kathleen (Shop-Girl) were truly awful characters who saw zero consequences and very little resolution.
The nostalgia of the opening scene alone could’ve given the movie so many bonus points. Add the promising beginning of two strangers chatting on AOL and we’ve got the start of a true winner. Then, everything came screeching to a violent and abrupt halt. Not one, but both of the leads were in serious relationships. This may not have been alarming, except both leads hid their messages from their partners. *red flag #1*
In other promising scenes, we get several near-meet-cutes that I always love. They just kept missing each other until the true meet-cute moment. *swoon* He takes his child-aunt and baby brother into her bookstore and they have several moments. Adding to the moment is the fact we all know what she doesn’t. He’s the namesake of the big-name book company that will likely put her small bookstore out of business. This is the moment we Hallmarkies love about our movies. So, yes, I saw a lot of potential in this scene too, especially because he was trying to hide his identity. But then, things got worse and worse.
Shop-Girl and NY152 kept sending flirty emails and building a relationship. *red flags #2 & #3* And each encounter between Joe and Kathleen was flirty in the haters-to-lovers kind of way. *red flag #4* Shop-Girl and NY152 even planned to meet for a coffee date. *red flag #5* Then, NY152, aka Joe, saw Shop-Girl was Kathleen. Naturally, he realized they couldn’t possibly be in a happy relationship, so he stood her up. *red flag #6* But not really, because Joe showed up without telling Kathleen the truth. Which, I mean, is sort of understandable since she hated him so much, but still… It was a lie. *red flag #7* A lie that could’ve been forgivable if it wasn’t for everything else.
I don’t expect movies to be as realistic as real life. I do expect some sort of realism though. I expect real life, but with a guaranteed happy ending. That’s why we love fairytales, Hallmark, and other rom-coms so much. Most of the stories feel relatable in one sense or another and there’s always a happy ending. Not so with “You’ve Got Mail.” Sure, there was a happy ending, but it was tainted by the lack of reality.
Kathleen spent the whole movie cheating on her significant other and blaming Joe for making good business decisions. *red flag #8* Joe spent the whole movie being insensitive and also cheating on his significant other. *red flag #9* In a Hallmark movie or teen rom-com, this would’ve been fine. Not here. Not without consequences or resolution. In Hallmark movies and most other rom-coms the cheater, emotional or otherwise, gets called out and has to deal with the consequences. In this one, the breakups were clean and mutual. What!? Are you kidding me!? GROSS! Then, Joe never actually tells Kathleen the truth. *red flag #10* And neither of them truly apologizes for being awful human beings. *red flag #11* Kathleen does say she shouldn’t be cruel, but she doesn’t apologize. And Joe. Ugh! Joe… Joe doesn’t even apologize for anything. He gets all manipulative saying, “If you can forgive him, then why can’t you forgive me?” *red flag #12* And then, when she leaves him to meet cyber-boy he just shows up without ever telling the truth. In fact, he sort of plays her. When she finally sees it’s him, she cries. I thought, finally, we’d get a good wrap-up and she’d call him out for what he deserved to be called out on–lying–but no! She’s glad it was him!? She was hoping it was him!? She’s not even mad he lied to her knowing who she was the whole time!? And then it’s just over!? Gross! No consequences. No true apologies or ownership. No redeeming qualities even though it had so much potential!
I wanted to like this movie. I really did. It’s the forerunner of one of my favorite tropes! But I couldn’t like it. I tried until the very end and it just fell flat. I honestly can’t believe so many people love this movie so much. What about it is in the least bit romantic? I will defend a rom-com or drama to the end in most cases, but I can’t with this one. I will not be watching it again. And I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. If asked, I would discourage it. But I will leave with a parting comment of semi-positivity. I acknowledge Joe did see a little bit of character growth. He was nicer and more empathetic and figured out what he wanted. But once again, it was wasted potential. *Sigh*