You've Got Mail
Predictable-but-sweet romantic comedy.
Based on 17 reviews
Based on 23 reviews
Common Sense is a nonprofit organization. Your purchase helps us remain independent and ad-free.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
Suggest an Update
A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this 1998 romantic comedy may seem old-fashioned to teen viewers, especially given the technology -- dial-up Internet access and AOL chat rooms -- at the heart of its plot. But they'll likely find it entertaining, too, and still relatable. There's a chain-stores-versus-independent-stores debate that may give young viewers pause (but would surely be informative). Plus, expect some discussions about infidelity and cybersex.
Well, I honestly do not no what to say...
Report this review
More swearing than in Sleepless in Seattle but less sexual references
Report this review
What's the Story?
Joe Fox (Tom Hanks) is set to open a big-box bookstore on the Upper West Side, a neighborhood that's fiercely protective of its small shops. (At least it was when the movie was filmed.) Little does he know that the woman he's been chatting with online, unbeknownst to his frantic, editor girlfriend (Parker Posey), is Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan), the proprietor of a small children's bookstore that will likely be decimated once his mega-store opens its doors. Can love trump commerce?
Is It Any Good?
There's a reason YOU'VE GOT MAIL has become a romcom classic: It is knit together like a perfectly cabled sweater, with a nary a stitch dropped. The pacing is perfect, the characters likeable, the dialogue breezy. Some observations, including one about the overly complicated choices at chain coffee stores -- Starbucks, specifically -- still hold true. (It was filmed in the 1990s.) The arguments for the ability of small, independent stores to survive against super-stores are hopeful -- but also a sad, really, given how many have foundered in real life.
Nostalgia is one of the charms of You've Got Mail, and the old-fashioned courtship at the heart of it, despite being conducted online, is the most charming of all and references romances-by-letter of times past. Hanks and Ryan have heaps of chemistry, and though the fact that they fall in love given the circumstances seems highly unlikely — the plot's a little far-fetched, but what romcom doesn't have an implausible one? — we buy it because, well, why not?
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the central argument of the film: Are big-box stores to blame for the decline of independent stores?
Is Joe's and Kathleen's relationship believable? Does it matter if it's not? Do relationships that begin online face challenges that other relationships don't? Also, talk to your children about instant messaging and other ways to communicate online.
- In theaters: December 18, 1998
- On DVD or streaming: May 4, 1999
- Cast: Greg Kinnear, Meg Ryan, Parker Posey, Tom Hanks
- Director: Nora Ephron
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Romance
- Run time: 119 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: some language
- Last updated: February 26, 2023
Our Editors Recommend
Sleepless in Seattle
Romantic '90s fairy tale has some cursing, sex.
While You Were Sleeping
Appealing family comedy with old-fashioned feel.
Breezy but amusing '90s romcom has sex, language.
For kids who love romance
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate