Shop Talk

A behind-the-scenes peek at the delivery of You've Got Mail

This is not to take away from the Ephrons' work; they've produced a very nice piece of writing. The script (which all of these comments are based on; I will leave judgment of the film itself to others in these pages) is funny, touching and literate. It actually improves on the original by putting the characters in competing businesses, heightening the external conflict. Letting us in on their correspondence lets us see how the two pen pals affect each other even before they're aware of their identities. The Ephrons' traditional talkiness fits the subject perfectly, as two people fall in love through language. They also tried to raise the stakes by adding competing love interests for both main characters, but this works less successfully. I can only think that two stars with the appeal of Hanks and Ryan -- who look great just sitting and typing -- will make You've Got Mail a big hit.

If you read the publicity material for You've Got Mail, you'll find that Lauren Shuler Donner takes credit for coming up with the E-mail idea. I'm sure she honestly believes this, and, in a way, it's true. Just as Amanda and I had been thinking along the same lines, so, perhaps, was Lauren. Besides, she paid me off, so I guess she can say anything she wants.

For my part, I got my bonus and am finally able to watch Shop again without any pangs of regret or bitterness.

In fact, several weeks ago I watched it for the first time in years with my screenwriting class, 10 young men who had not seen it before. I didn't know what to expect. For the most part, they loved it. I was thrilled, and very happy to watch one of my favorite films again. I even look forward to seeing the remake. Sometimes, even if you know how a sausage is made, you can still enjoy it.

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