August 21, 1998 at 04:00 AM EDT

STARRING Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan, Greg Kinnear, Michael Palin, Steve Zahn, Parker Posey

DIRECTED BY Nora Ephron

In 1998, love means never having to reboot your hard drive — at least according to this cyber-romance that reunites the stars and screenwriter of Sleepless in Seattle in a loose adaptation of the 1940 Ernst Lubitsch classic The Shop Around the Corner. Hanks (in the Jimmy Stewart role) is a chain-bookstore mogul who falls for Ryan in an Internet chat room, not realizing that in the non-virtual world, she’s the owner of the small bookshop he’s pushing out of business. Ephron’s romantic research? ”I went into one of those chat rooms,” she says, ”but I was so horrified that nobody could spell that I had to leave.” Kinnear, who plays Ryan’s journalist boyfriend, sets up the film’s suspense: ”Meg ends up with either me or Tom Hanks,” he says. ”But I’m not going to give away the ending.” (Dec. 18)

THE LOWDOWN A Nora Ephron love story starring Hanks and Ryan? You don’t need a supercomputer to predict its success.

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Dabney Coleman,
Jean Stapleton
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