You've Got Mail

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Details At A Glance

Category Romantic Comedy Theatrical Trailer(s) Yes, 1
Rating Other Trailer(s) None
Year Released 1998 Commentary Tracks Yes, 1 - Nora Ephron (Director, Co-Writer, Co-Producer) & Lauren Schuler Donner (Producer)
Running Time 114:31 minutes Other Extras Isolated Music Score (Dolby Digital 2.0 )
Featurette-Making Of (HBO First Look Special: "A Conversation With Nora Ephron" 14:24)
Featurette (Tour Of New York's Upper West Side)
Cast & Crew Interviews (DVD-ROM only)
Audio Clips (Nora Ephron audio bytes - "Sounds of New York". DVD-ROM only)
RSDL/Flipper RSDL (75:15)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Movie
Region 4 Director Nora Ephron

Warner Home Video
Starring Tom Hanks
Meg Ryan
Parker Posey
Jean Stapleton
Dave Chappelle
Steve Zahn
Dabney Coleman
Greg Kinnear
Case Snapper
RRP $34.95 Music George Fenton

Pan & Scan/Full Frame None MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Dolby Digital 5.1
16x9 Enhancement Yes Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
French (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Italian (Dolby Digital 5.1)
English Audio Commentary (Dolby Digital 2.0 )
Isolated Music Score (Dolby Digital 2.0 )
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
Macrovision ? Smoking No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Annoying Product Placement Yes, extremely

Plot Synopsis

    You've Got Mail. Directed by Nora Ephron. Starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. Need I say more? Nora Ephron has made a career out of making the same movie time after time - this time she has gone as far as using the same co-stars as her last effort, Sleepless in Seattle, not that this is any criticism of her filmmaking.

    Tom Hanks is Joe Fox. Meg Ryan is Kathleen Kelly. Kathleen owns and runs The Shop Around The Corner, a children's book store on New York's Upper West Side. She is living with Frank (Greg Kinnear) but she is falling in love with the mysterious NY152 whom she met in a chat room on the Internet. Joe Fox runs Fox Books, a large discount book megastore. He lives with Patricia (Parker Posey) but he is falling in love with the mysterious Shopgirl whom he met in a chat room on the Internet. Surprise! NY152 is Joe and Shopgirl is Kathleen.

    But here's the problem. (All romantic comedies need a problem or an obstacle keeping the two leads apart, even though we know they'll get together in the end - that's the fun of the genre.) Joe Fox is opening a megastore just up the road from Kathleen's little store, which predictably spells doom for her little store. Add to this some less-than-ideal early meetings between the two of them, and Kathleen taking NY152's advice to fight dirty much to Joe's chagrin, and they end up hating each other, at least for a time...

    Oh, and in case you're wondering (and I was after seeing the movie theatrically), the first time Joe logs into AOL, he has three bits of mail waiting for him - the third is from Shopgirl, but the first two are SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM, which is only discernable if you freeze the shot. This amused me greatly.

Transfer Quality


    99% of the video transfer of this movie is magnificent. 1% is very ordinary.

    The transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. It is 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer is almost always extremely sharp and extremely clear, with the exception of the opening and closing credits. In particular, the very final shot of the movie, a pan upwards into the sky is dreadfully grainy and is a huge letdown for an otherwise exemplary transfer. Shadow detail was excellent, and there was no low level noise.

    The colours were beautifully rendered, with lovely greens, browns and reds. There was marvellous detail in such things as wood panelling and in greenery.

    No MPEG artefacts were seen. Film-to-video artefacts consisted of a number of scenes with quite significant and distracting aliasing, particularly the opening credits, a number of the shots of shop grilles and one long panning shot of New York from the Fox corporate offices. They were all brief, but they were particularly distracting since they were so unexpected in an otherwise exemplary transfer. Film artefacts were very rare - I noted two specific minor artefacts only.

    In addition to the subtitles listed on the back of the packaging, a German subtitle track is also present.

    This disc is an RSDL disc, with the layer change placed at 75:15, between Chapters 22 & 23. This layer change is placed in the middle of a conversation, and is quite disruptive to the flow of the conversation.


    There are five audio tracks on this DVD; an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, a French Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, an Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, the English Audio Commentary (Dolby Digital 2.0, surround-encoded) and the Isolated Music Score (Dolby Digital 2.0, surround-encoded). I listened to the default English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack and to the English Audio Commentary track.

    The overall level of this disc was a little low, and increasing it by 5dB improved the overall effect nicely.

    Dialogue was always clear and easy to understand.

    There were no audio sync problems with this disc.

    The musical score was by George Fenton. It was perfectly suited to the on-screen action, with an excellent mix of comedy, schmaltz and romance in the scoring. Additionally present were the trademark standards of the 1940s and 1950s that are a hallmark of Nora Ephron's work, though there was considerably more contemporary music present in this soundtrack than in her previous work.

     The surround channels were used nicely to create an enveloping ambience, with subtle sound effects and music placed in the rear channels. The overall effect was of a moderately enveloping soundtrack - a perfectly reasonable effort for a dialogue-driven movie such as this one.

   The .1 channel was lightly used to support the music.


    There are an excellent helping of extras on this disc. In addition, there is a postcard to apply for an Australian AOL Internet account in the packaging.

What's Missing / What's Extra

    We miss out on the following extras which are present on the Region 1 version of this disc;


    The menu is themed like an Internet browser, and works well.

Audio Commentary

    This is an excellent Audio Commentary from Nora Ephron (Director, Co-Writer, Co-Producer) & Lauren Schuler Donner (Producer). Nora Ephron is mixed left of centre and Lauren Schuler Donner is mixed right of centre. They speak at length about both specifics and generally about the movie, providing a great deal of insight into the making of this movie. There are a few awkward pauses, but these never extend beyond approximately one minute. It was well worth the time spent listening to it - the highlight for me was a deeper explanation of the "It's a girl!" sign at the florist's, which I always wondered about.

Featurette-Making Of-HBO First Look Special: "A Conversation With Nora Ephron"

    This is an excellent 14 minute featurette featuring an interview with Nora Ephron intercut with the movie. It discusses the movie and its production values in a good amount of detail. It is presented in an aspect ratio of 4:3 and with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. The quality of the video footage is somewhat lacking, so I suspect this was simply upconverted from NTSC to PAL, but it is far better to have this featurette present than to have it left off for quality reasons.

Featurette-Tour of New York's Upper West Side

    This is a series of 11 short clips (30 seconds to 1 minute) comparing the film's locations with their real-life equivalents, narrated by Nora Ephron. I found this moderately interesting.

Theatrical Trailer

    This is presented at an aspect ratio of 4:3 and with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound.

DVD-ROM Features

    I do not have a DVD-ROM player, so I was unable to check out the following features, listed as appearing on this disc, however I have been informed by a number of people that they are all present on the disc, and the Region 1 and Region 4 discs have access to the same DVD-ROM features.


    You've Got Mail is a most enjoyable romantic comedy, with a very plausible premise in today's connected society. A worthy addition to your collection.

    The video quality is exemplary except for several short sequences as discussed above.

    The audio quality is good.

    The extras are excellent.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Michael Demtschyna
16th July 1999

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-505, using S-Video output
Display Loewe Art-95 95cm direct view CRT in 16:9 mode, via the S-Video input. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Denon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital AddOn Decoder, used as a standalone processor. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Amplification 2 x EA Playmaster 100W per channel stereo amplifiers for Left, Right, Left Rear and Right Rear; Philips 360 50W per channel stereo amplifier for Centre and Subwoofer
Speakers Philips S2000 speakers for Left, Right; Polk Audio CS-100 Centre Speaker; Apex AS-123 speakers for Left Rear and Right Rear; Yamaha B100-115SE subwoofer