Good Bad Films ~ You’ve Got Mail

As I’ve mentioned before, I love to watch You’ve Got Mail once a year, when the nights start to draw in and autumn really feels as though it is on its way. My friend Katy tweeted me the other day to say that she had downloaded it and thought of me because of how much I love autumn (which makes me so happy, you don’t even know).

You've Got Mail Tom Hanks gif

The thing about You’ve Got Mail, is that it’s not a great film. It’s one of my autumn films, and I love the way it feels when I watch it, but it’s never going to be included on a Best Films list. So that got me to thinking about other good bad films, as I like to call them. Starting with You’ve Got Mail, I’m going to tell you about what makes these films good and bad. It’s important to note the following: 1) Good to me doesn’t necessarily correspond with what anyone else would call good. The reason I love these films isn’t because they are great films, it’s because they appeal to me. 2) Despite listing these films’ bad attributes, I still love them. If I didn’t, they wouldn’t be making it onto this list. The bad things don’t cancel out the good. 3) Other people may call them Guilty Pleasures, but that’s not a term I like. I don’t feel guilty about enjoying a film (or a song, book, television series etc.). 4) I’m no film reviewer. If you want a decent film review, you should be reading Empire, not a blog.

You’ve Got Mail

Tom Hanks You've Got Mail

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Good

  • Quotes like “Don’t you love New York in the fall? It makes me wanna buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address.” Also “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 Bloomingdales to buy a hat that will turn out to be a mistake, as almost all hats are.”
  • Tom Hanks is largely charming as Joe Fox.
  • It was written and directed by Nora Ephron.
  • The sound of typing is one of my favourite things, and there’s a lot of it in this film.
  • Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan have chemistry; this cannot be denied.
  • The autumn-ness of it all. The colours, the feeling of New York in the fall, all of that.
  • The children are cute without being precocious. F-O-X
  • Greg Kinnear and Parker Posey are pretty great in supporting roles.
  • Books. All of the books.

Meg Ryan You've Got Mail Christmas Tree

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Bad

  • The ending is creepy. Joe knows that he is Kathleen’s online friend, but he doesn’t tell her, so he gets to hear all about how she feels about NY152. Of course, this is a plot device, and really how it has to be if the film isn’t going to fall apart in the middle. But the fact is that Joe is falling for ShopGirl, so when he finds out who exactly she is, why does he continue acting badly towards Kathleen? Surely it would be within his best interests to make sure that Kathleen can see Joe as a good person, if he is to have any hope of a relationship with her after he has revealed who he is?
  • Kathleen says “I wanted it to be you” when she realises that NY152 is in fact, her new friend/ex foe Joe Fox. I think, before I fell into his arms, I’d have to have a talk with him about why he didn’t tell me who he was!
  • I know it’s business, but I don’t know if I could forgive Joe Fox his other crime; putting The Shop Around the Corner out of business!
  • Despite my previous point that Hanks and Ryan have chemistry, it’s never quite as good as it was throughout Sleepless in Seattle.
  • Even for a romcom, it is rather contrived and a tad schmaltzy.

So, despite all that is bad about this film, I still love it. One of the hardest things to convey, I think, about good bad films, is how they make you feel, or how they remind you of a particular time. I’ve always maintained that nostalgia can play a large part in how you feel about a film. When you first watched a film can be a really important part of how you feel about it. That’s not really the case with You’ve Got Mail, but the feeling I get when I watch it is a cosy one. I can forgive it most of its crimes (though the ending will always sit badly with me), when I hear the quote about the butterfly, or watch the Christmas scene.

What are your favourite good bad films? There are lots more to come in this vein, so keep an eye out for your favourites!

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