Saturday, May 9, 2009

Pretty Woman (1990) [R] ****

Edward Lewis (Richard Gere) is an attorney who buys undervalued companies, breaks them up and sells the pieces because they're worth more than the whole company. He's in L.A. working with his partner Philip (Jason Alexander) on a billion dollar hostile takeover of a shipbuilding company owned by James Morse (Ralph Bellamy). Bored at Philip's party, Edward borrows his high-performance Lotus sports car, but lost in Hollywood, and unfamiliar with a stick-shift, he hires Vivian Ward (Julia Roberts), a Hollywood Boulevard streetwalker, to drive and navigate. Arriving at his hotel, on an impulse Edward hires Vivian for the evening, and discovers that she's an amateur with a heart of gold, and only became a hooker when her boyfriend, whom she followed to L.A., dumped her and left her flat broke.

The following morning Edward asks Vivian to be his beck and call girl for the week, while he completes the takeover, and she accepts. During the week Edward and Vivian discover they have a lot in common. As Edward observes: You and I are a lot alike, Vivian. We both screw people for money. Vivian opens Edward's heart and mind to what he has been missing in life... a creative outlet for his energy and passion. And Edward helps Vivian realize that she has far more potential than she gives herself credit for. The big question is... can Edward and Vivian rescue each other and live happily ever after?

This classic romance was Julia Roberts' first big starring role, after Mystic Pizza and Steel Magnolias, and she nailed it. She and Richard Gere have great romantic chemistry. The supporting cast includes Hector Elizondo as the hotel manager, and Laura San Giacomo as Vivian's roommate, and both are terrific. The dialogue and soundtrack are memorable, and some of the scenes, particularly the shopping scene, are such classics that they have been imitated in other films. For an in-depth experience, don't forget to turn on Director Garry Marshall's audio commentary.

Labels: comedy, romance
Internet Movie Database
Metacritic 51/100
Tomatometer (critics=62, viewers=68)