Although one has to respect her decisions, they also make the movie a disappointment when compared to its model. For its first third the movie's wit and charm work only in fits and starts: The opening credit sequence is wonderful; the scene of Joe spending the day with a pair of kids drags badly. (The occasional use of "comedy" music in the score, presumably to shore up sagging scenes, only makes things worse.) Ultimately the screenplay lacks the gemlike near-perfection of The Shop Around the Corner.

And then suddenly, roughly 45 minutes in, there's a scene that elevates the movie, generating the loudest laughs and deepest emotions. It is, in fact, the one scene that is lifted almost line for line from Samson Raphaelson's 58-year-old screenplay: when Joe realizes Shopgirl's real identity. It encapsulates both the best and worst of Ephron's work here, her admirable decision to make something basically new, and her perhaps inevitable inability to make that something come close to matching the brilliance of Lubitsch and Raphaelson.

You've Got Mail.
Directed by Nora Ephron. Written by Nora Ephron and Delia Ephron. Based on the screenplay The Shop Around the Corner by Samson Raphaelson, and the play Parfumerie by Nikolaus Laszlo. Starring Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan, Greg Kinnear, and Parker Posey.

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