Pretty Woman (1990)


Pretty damn good, entertaining “romantic” comedy that manages to surpass its relatively traditional story thanks to a charming, adorable, charismatic performance from Julia Roberts who I had no idea was capable of such fine, loose acting. What the heck happened to her? Granted I haven’t seen very many Julia Roberts films in my day, but the ones I have seen usually have her giving such serious, controlled performances that lack all sense of joy and fun. Seeing her like this, so appealing and cute and full of life, is a real shock. So this is why she was such a big star in her day, and why she’s so respected as an actress despite not really having done anything else of note since. Still, it is just one performance, but what a performance it is.

The film is pretty straight forward and predictable, but still entertaining and funny, and nice to look at. And Roberts, of course, is real pretty here, with her beady eyes and cute little smile. The girl is adorable, but you can sense there’s also an element of toughness there, of grit, and it works, extremely well, cause the woman can act, or could act, not sure whether she can anymore, not like this at least. Or if she can, she sure hasn’t shown it as far as I’ve seen. But anyway, the romance isn’t even all that annoying or silly like in most romantic comedies; it’s actually well handled and sweet and all that other gooey slimy stuff big manly men like me are usually repulsed by. It’s still very much a fantasy, of course, but it’s a charming one, prostitutes and all.

Richard Gere is flat and disconnected though; his character is barely developed, but that’s okay because the movie isn’t really about him. He’s there more to serve as the fantasy fulfillment vessel for the Roberts character than to behave as a real, fleshed out human being, which, again, is perfectly okay. The film makes it work somehow, magically. Still, it would have been nice to know why the guy is so sad and miserable at the beginning, and throughout. Eh. And then there’s Jason Alexander. Whoa. I understand he’s supposed to be the villain here, but **SPOILERS** attempted rape, **END SPOILERS** really? Talk about destroying beloved Seinfeld memories. And Laura San Giacomo, who plays Robert’s stunning hooker friend, is also pretty damn good. Just great, great acting all around, except for Gere, though, again, it doesn’t matter. Oh, but the 80s music, god, awful. They really ought to go in and update it to something a little less ridiculous.

Overall, great film, really enjoyable, especially Julia Roberts who almost single-handedly elevates the film from probable mediocrity to highly enjoyable romantic comedy. What a powerhouse performance, full of life and joy. Who knew she was capable of such greatness? Not me. I also enjoyed the fact that the story was slightly better than average; sure it’s nothing too special, but it’s very well crafted and told, even if it is a little long at times and does have an extremely predictable cheese-ball ending. It’s a tale of opposites in a way, and, ultimately, a modern-day fantasy that appeals to both men and women. A near perfect romantic comedy, one of the very very few out there, if not, perhaps, the only one. Definitely worth watching.

  1. Great write up (I would not term Roberts’ smile as ‘little’, but…lol). ‘Pretty Woman’ is actually a wonderful film in many ways. For one thing it rocketed Roberts to stardom (so many young actresses rejected the role of the prostitute, and regretted it afterwards). It is a great entertainment, too, and the chemistry between Roberts and Gere is fantastic (don’t know, I thought the film soundtrack was fab, too). And, in terms of film romances it still remains one of the most watchable films.

    • Ha ha, even though she does have giant lips there’s just something about her smile in this film that makes it look little. Or maybe it’s the little beady eyes and little face that did that for me. Not sure.

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