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With 'You've Got Mail,' You Get Lots of Other Goodies Too

May 06, 1999|SUSAN KING | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Warner Home Video's DVD of the Tom Hanks-Meg Ryan Christmas blockbuster "You've Got Mail" ($25) is a first-class treat.

The romantic comedy re-teamed the stars of the 1993 hit "Sleepless in Seattle," as well as its director, Nora Ephron. In this outing, Hanks plays the mogul of a book chain-store who has fallen in love with "shopgirl," a woman he has met in an Internet chat room. Unknown to him, she is the owner of a small children's bookstore that he is trying to put out of business.

The comedy is based on the 1940 classic "The Shop Around the Corner" with James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan, and 1949's musical comedy "In the Good Old Summertime" with Judy Garland and Van Johnson.

The DVD is full of goodies, including the wide-screen version of the film, cast and crew biographies, the HBO "First Look" program "A Conversation With Nora Ephron," the trailers for "Shop Around the Corner" and "The Good Old Summertime," and a music-only track featuring the songs used in the film and George Fenton's score.

One of the most clever extras featured on the DVD is an interactive tour of New York's Upper West Side, where the movie was mainly filmed. Ephron and producer Lauren Shuler Donner discuss each of the film's main locations and offer enjoyable tidbits about them, including the fact that "You've Got Mail" marks the first time the grocery store-deli Zabar's has allowed a film crew to shoot inside.

Also, the producers originally asked Barnes & Noble if they could transform one of its stores into Hanks' Fox Books. When the chain said no, they ended up using Barney's women's store, which had just gone out of business. Ryan's bookstore, by the way, is in real life a cheese and antique shop.

Ephron and Shuler Donner also offer sprightly commentary on the making of the film, and it's nice to have women given the opportunity to offer their opinions on a DVD.

"You've Got Mail" also includes many features for DVD-ROM owners, such as a one-click fixture that links you to other fans of the film and the film's production call sheet. Users will also be able to read the correspondence between the Hanks-Ryan characters in the film and read about the production.

*

Perhaps "Babe: Pig in the City" (Universal, $30) will find an audience on video and DVD. Though the sequel to 1995's Oscar-winning "Babe" received generally good reviews last Thanksgiving, it was a big box-office disappointment.

The DVD version offers both full- and wide-screen options, talent bios, production notes, animated menus, chapter searches, trailers and Web links.

But it would have been a much more interesting disc if director George Miller or even the animal trainer had been available to offer commentary and insight into this difficult production.

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