...while there are insights from A-listers, Carlson doesn’t just interview top-billed actors. We even hear from assistants to the assistants — like the guy who taught Meg Ryan 'how to actually use email.' The book’s wide net of sources, along with Ephronisms and movie dialogue, proves to be a wonderful recipe, giving readers a sense of what it was like working on an Ephron project at every level. Seamlessly woven into the narrative are bits of behind-the-scenes gossip that will surprise even the most die-hard fans ... Fast-paced, humorous, yet impressively researched, Carlson’s voice feels cut from the same cloth as Ephron’s, but her ode isn’t all warm meet-cutes at the top of the Empire State Building. She dings Ephron for the lack of diversity in 'her daffy, urban universes,' and she interviews a set designer on Sleepless who had such difficulty with the director that he begged to be fired.
That Carlson lacks the authority or experience to confidently analyze what Nora Ephron did and didn’t do as a filmmaker of romantic comedies — and fills the empty space with blog-post-like extras about what the director wore on the set — is the main reason this reader of neck-fretting age is not having what the impressionable author and her underanalyzed pop-culture project is having ... Nothing in I’ll Have What She’s Having makes a persuasive case for why Sleepless and Mail can be considered in the same category of excellence as Harry/Sally (me, I say they’re not); neither does Carlson make a convincing argument for why the romantic comedy needed saving (me, I say it didn’t, not if one looks at Hollywood history more fully); nor does she elucidate how Ephron saved the genre and shaped what came after (me, I say hooey).
Carlson's first book pays affectionate and clear-eyed tribute to the three most popular movies associated with screenwriter and director Nora Ephron. Going behind the scenes to explore the making of When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, and You've Got Mail, she dispenses insider information that fans of the movies will find hard to resist ... her breezy, frisky tone makes reading the book like sharing a gossipy lunch with an old friend. Although she keeps the focus on the three films, she also allows herself to go off on fascinating tangents about the lives and other movies of the director and her stars. As sweet and bubbly a treat as the movies it covers, this book does what it does impeccably, and readers will love it.