It's certainly a movie that the majority of moviegoers have seen, so I won't go too deeply into a plot discussion of "Pretty Woman", the 1990 surprise hit that made Julia Roberts a household name. The film, which was originally a dark tale, was spun into a comedy by Disney with Gary Marshall ("League of Their Own") directing.
The picture stars Richard Gere as Edward Lewis, a wealthy investor from New York City who goes around buying up companies and sells off all the pieces. His latest effort takes him to Beverly Hills, where he runs into Vivian (Julia Roberts), a hooker who tries to look out for her friends. She winds up in his car, and before they know it, she's spending the night with him for $300. Nothing "happens" between them, but he appreciates having someone to talk to. The next morning, he offers her a deal: stay the entire week with him for $3,000. Helping her out in the quest to fit in is the hotel Manager, played by Hector Elizondo in a warm, good-natured effort.
It's no shock that the two eventually see each other as employee and employer, although the film works fairly well through the cliches thanks to good chemistry between Roberts and Gere. Roberts has somewhat of a "free-spirit" persoality, which compliments Gere's more straightforward manner. Gere plays the businessman who suddenly warms up and cracks a smile well, as he's done it more than once.
Obviously, the movie is entirely predictable and about as far from reality as possible, but both leads offer great performances and the writing is better-than-average for the genre. Although Marshall lets the movie run too long for it's own good (something he does with just about every one of his movies), he does manage to make conventional elements seem mostly charming and easily accepted. The movie does look dated 15 years later, but it still stands up as a whole pretty well.
VIDEO: "Pretty Woman" is presented by Touchstone in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen on this release, an improvement over the prior release's non-anamorphic effort. Sharpness and detail aren't remarkable in any way, but the definition level at least appeared consistent and pleasing.
The presentation didn't impress too greatly, but it wasn't really flawed in any way, either. A couple of tiny instances of edge enhancement appeared, and the print showed a moment or two of some minor grain and dirt. The print, however, was otherwise clean and clear. Colors looked bright and nicely saturated, with no smearing or other concerns.
SOUND: "Pretty Woman" is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. The audio presentation seemed like a bare basic edition of a "comedy mix". The audio is spread mildly across the front speakers, but doesn't have much in the way of oomph behind the music. There's not much detail to the presentation, and audio quality is just average, with somewhat thin-sounding dialogue.
EXTRAS: Gary Marshall provides a new audio commentary for the film and although it seems like he's not entirely remembering everything at this point, a Gary Marshall commentary can never be bad. Hilarious to listen to, Marshall delivers practically every one of his sentences with a kind of timing and delivery that makes whatever he has to share not only engaging, but often really amusing. Although there are some moments of silence throughout the picture, Marshall spends much of the track discussing story ideas, casting, shooting on location and more.
We also get a guide to the locations, the original production featurette, a featurette about the wrap party, a trailer for the film, a Natalie Cole music video and a blooper reel.
Final Thoughts: "Pretty Woman", despite looking dated, still offers two very fine lead efforts and retains some of its magic 15 years later. The 15th Anniversary Edition DVD offers improved picture quality, average audio and supplements that are fairly enjoyable, but aside from the Marshall commentary, certainly not substancial. Those who don't already own the movie should consider this release, but the differences aren't quite enough to really recommend an upgrade for those who own the prior releases.