Don’t Cry, Shopgirl

The other night I said that when Meg Ryan finds out her instant message dream man is Tom Hanks in You’ve Got Mail and starts crying, Hanks uttering the line, “Don’t cry, Shopgirl” just about ruins the movie. Despite “don’t cry” being embarrassingly mawkish, it’s even worse that he calls Meg Ryan by her AOL screenname. It’s not as bad as the girl at the end of 500 Days Of Summer introducing herself as Autumn, just before Joseph Gordon-Levitt gives the camera a smarmy smile to make sure the audience got the intensely subtle joke, okay; that made me want to never watch the movie again. There may be no scene on film history I loathe as much as that. But “don’t cry, Shopgirl,” isn’t too far down the list.

In the interest of remaining honest and vigilant with my own writing, though, I have to make a confession. I wrote a screenplay when I was 23, where one of the main characters has been not-very-secretly pining after this girl who works at his friend’s CD store and has an awful empty sack of a boyfriend. When he finally makes his movie at the end of the script–just steps right in and kisses her! My god!–he follows it up by stepping back after a cool and reciprocated snog and saying, (sweet Space Whale in the Sky, give me strength):

I think you deserve me.

I know. I deleted the line in the next draft, just let the kiss stand by itself, but I have carried the horror of having written that line with me ever since. If it had made it into a finished film, I probably would have perished where I sat at the premiere. I can’t imagine how Nora Ephron must’ve felt.