Look, it's Pretty Woman; you certainly don't need me explaining the thing. It's like trying to describe Diet Coke.
Those who've seen and have an opinion on Pretty Woman seem to fall into three distinct categories:
1. Those who love the fluffy little thing, laugh at all the jokes, and consider it estrogen-laced escapism of the most wish-fulfilling variety.
2. Those who consider it a mildly entertaining piece of cinematic piffle, not exactly hilarious, but fairly amusing, with solid chemistry between two mega-wattage movie stars.
3. Those who see the movie as a shockingly shallow, venal, and transparent white-washing of the whole "whore for money" experience.
Me, I'm right between #2 and #3. This is an amazingly lightweight little tale of a hooker and a hunk, and how the approval of one yields the dissolution of the other. Can a high society bachelor turn a hooker into a housewife? Well, in the movies he sure can ... especially if the prostitute in question looks even half as flawless as Julia Roberts.
One of the true-blue modern-day chick-flicks (for better or for worse), Pretty Woman works for many women in the same way that Die Hard appeals to so many men; it locates those few malleable nuggets in your heart that respond to simplistic emotional stimuli, and it strums those chords for all they're worth. Pretty Woman speaks to a person's innate wish to be swept up, rescued, pampered, and taken care of. (Die Hard speaks to a person's innate wish to swing on fire hoses, kill nasty terrorists, and be sweaty and sarcastic at the same time.)
Whether or not Pretty Woman works for you, there's little denying the gold to be mined within the supporting cast. Hector Elizondo steals several scenes as a charming hotel manager; Jason Alexander plays against type as a snivelly worm; and Laura San Giacomo is great as a relatively more "street-familiar" prostitute.
Pretty Woman is an absolute wedding cake of a movie; it hardly works as a substantial meal, but if you want to ingest something pink, sweet, and laden with calories, you know where to find it.
Video: It's a solid, but not excellent, Widescreen (1.85:1) Anamorphic transfer. Picture quality is pretty strong, but you'll notice some softness in general and flecks against many of the darker backgrounds.
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English or DD 2.0 French. The 5.1 sounds adequately crisp and inviting. Volume levels are balanced well between the dialogue and the pop tunes. Optional subtitles are available in English, French, and Spanish.
This 15th Anniversary Special Edition comes with a semi-heaping handful of Pretty little goodies.
There's an all-new audio commentary from the always-jocular Garry Marshall. Garry rambles on like everyone's favorite Uncle Louie, roving from on-set memories to production problems to random raving in general. Always the ambling yet colorful commentator, Mr. Marshall delivers a track that's actually kinda fun.
Live from the Wrap Party is precisely what it sounds like. Recorded at a swingin' bash in October of '89, the footage consists of Julia Roberts, Richard Gere, and Garry Marshall performing "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" before an appreciative crowd (of 30 employees).
LA: The Pretty Woman Tour is a clickable tour hosted by Mr. Marshall that ferries you along to several of the locations used in Pretty Woman. Choose between Rodeo Drive, the Natural History Museum, Hollywood Blvd, and about five others. Or click on "play all" to see the tour in one 9-minute block.
The 1990 Production Featurette is your typical "we're making a movie we want you to see" piece of on-set promotional material. Runs just under 4 minutes.
You'll also find a blooper reel that runs about 2.5 minutes, a Natalie Cole video for "Wild Women Do," the original Pretty Woman theatrical trailer, and a bunch of Sneak Peeks for Shopgirl, Flightplan, Desperate Housewives: The Complete First Season, Herbie: Fully Loaded, Scrubs: The Complete Second Season, Alias: The Complete Fourth Season, and a Disney TV on DVD promo.
Much as I feel I probably should, I find it hard to dislike Pretty Woman. As formulaic and push-button-y as it is, it still houses some truly enjoyable movie-star chemistry, just enough laughs to keep me happy, and a cuddly-sweet happy ending that fits perfectly with the puddle-deep yet likable presentation.
And if you're a big fan of the flick, the new goodies on this S.E., while nothing spectacular, are probably worth the upgrade.