You’ve Got Mail, the cinematic ode to AOL that reunited Nora Ephron, Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks – a trifecta that previously made rom-com magic in 1993’s Sleepless in Seattle – turned 15 this week.
In it, Ryan and Hanks played Kathleen and Joe, a pair of Upper West Side business rivals who fall in love over email without knowing each other’s true identity.
Not only did Mindy Kaling‘s favorite film celebrate the Web’s matchmaking potential years before online dating was socially acceptable, it also spawned endlessly quotable lines (“That caviar is a garnish!”) and featured a stellar supporting cast that included Jean Stapleton, Greg Kinnear, Dave Chappelle and Parker Posey.
Of course, a lot has changed since 1998. Given Kathleen’s giddiness upon receiving email, we can only imagine her reaction to simultaneous correspondences on Facebook, Twitter and Gchat. Let’s take a closer look at how the movie holds up in 2013.
1. Joe and Kathleen meet in an “over 30” AOL chatroom. Today, they’d more likely be on OKCupid … or even Tinder. In fact, we’re imagining Kathleen’s profile now. (“I spend a lot of time thinking about: bouquets of newly sharpened pencils, sweater sets, words like thither, mischance, felicity.”)
2. Kathleen’s journalist beau Frank informs her, “The entire work force of the state of Virginia had to have solitaire removed from their computers because they hadn’t done any work in six weeks.” Today, they’d be playing Candy Crush on their iPhones.
3. Joe observes, “The whole purpose of places like Starbucks is for people with no decision-making ability whatsoever to make six decisions just to buy one cup of coffee. Short, tall, light, dark, caf, decaf, low-fat, non-fat, etc. So people who don’t know what the hell they’re doing or who on earth they are can, for only $2.95, get not just a cup of coffee but an absolutely defining sense of self: Tall. Decaf. Cappuccino.” Yep, still sounds about right.
4. Kathleen’s store assistant Christina wonders, “What if we have to fold? I’ll never find another part-time job and I won’t be able to pay the rent and I’ll have to move to Brooklyn.” A part-time retail gig is no longer likely to cover Manhattan rent, and no self-respecting artsy 20-something would scoff at Brooklyn anyway.
5. Joe’s big, bad chain puts Kathleen’s virtuous indie children’s bookstore, The Shop Around The Corner, out of business. Today, both brick-and-mortar retailers would be on the same team, mutually threatened by the rise of e-readers.
6. Another of Kathleen’s employees shares, “I tried to have cybersex once, but I kept getting a busy signal.” Fortunately, cybersex enthusiasts no longer have to rely on dial-up.
7. Joe’s colleague insists, “This is the Upper West Side, man. We might as well tell ’em we’re opening up a crack house. They’re gonna hate us.” Today, Williamsburg would be a more apt hub for chain haters.
8. Kathleen asks Frank to pen an article on the plight of her store, but these days she could much more easily post negative Yelp reviews of the competition. (Plus, we’d rather see Frank’s time put to use on his book about “something relevant for today, like the Luddite movement in 19th century England.”)
Watch the movie’s trailer, in all its ’90s glory, below.
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