Pretty Woman

Review Haiku

Pretty Woman was

About as wooden as a

Piece of wilted bark

Review: 2.5/5

Apparently, people REALLY like this movie

I do a bit of research on every film after I watch it (never beforehand, because that could color my opinion). From what the Internet tells me, Pretty Woman was the most popular rom-com to ever hit theaters and remains a classic of the genre that scores of people love. In fact, 2015 marked the 25th anniversary of the movie. It appears to be as beloved as ever.

My opinion differs: I did not particularly enjoy this movie. I found it contrived and boring, and held up only because of the chemistry between its two leads. But you know what? I can totally understand why people adore it.

First of all, let’s be clear: this movie made money because it starred Richard Gere and Julia Roberts, not because it’s a particularly great flick. And to be fair, the pair doesn’t disappoint. Gere plays an understated businessman-person named Edward Lewis, whose ambitions are a tad unclear throughout the film. Roberts plays Vivian Ward, a hooker with a heart of gold. I didn’t like the movie much but I think this was my favorite Julia Roberts character out of the three I’ve encountered during this challenge. In My Best Friend’s Wedding she played a crazy person and in Notting Hill she played a sad person; in Pretty Woman, she plays a much more complex character and actually looks like she’s acting as opposed to simply trying to act. Good job Julia and Richard!

Not a good job, everyone else! The concept for this movie should not have been stretched to two hours, I’m sorry. I was just bored out of my mind watching it and I knew exactly what would happen the second Vivian found herself in Edward’s car 15 minutes in. This was an incessantly predictable movie. Incessantly predictable movies should be 90 minutes, not 120. I can’t even imagine how much of a drag this would have been if the casting wasn’t so good.

But again, I want to reiterate the point. You, the reader, may feel like Pretty Woman is the best rom-com you’ve ever watched. I know you are out there. And I can level with you: this movie has mainstream appeal and is not an outright bad effort. I just don’t agree that it’s great.

Love and money

I was a little confused about the ultimate point the movie wanted to make. Maybe that’s because I was bored by the proceedings. Either way, my research unveiled conflicting points of view. Many believe Pretty Woman is an opus of feminism, where Roberts plays a prostitute who tries to make her own way in the world. Others, like me, believe its something of a misguided attempt at feminism, trying to make Vivian seem empowered but instead promoting the importance of good looks, money, and materialism. Look, I don’t want to get political or anything, I’m just here to watch movies – I don’t particularly care what the movie was trying to say. All I care about is that it didn’t do a good job of figuring out how to say it. Movies like this always provoke debate, which is good.

Ultimately, it’s a movie. It’s supposed to be watched. It’s supposed to be enjoyed. Who cares about what it’s trying to shed light on anyway?

Still could have done a better job of trying, though.

Also, an article I saw made an interesting point about people who try too hard to politicize a romantic comedy: “For all its modern trappings (and R rating) it’s also deeply old-fashioned: Take out the sex and prostitution and it could be a Disney movie.”

Final thoughts

By George! This is the first time I’ve seen Jason Alexander in a non-Seinfeld role. I’m sure Jason Alexander is a great guy but I can’t think of anybody more tethered to a character than him. Maybe the guy who played Urkel? Every time I saw Alexander on the screen I expected Kramer to come busting out of the nearest door. I know Seinfeld was hardly at peak popularity when Pretty Woman came out but man, I can’t shake it. Poor Jason. He probably has to deal with this every day of his life.

Doom and gloom: One of the most interesting back stories regarding Pretty Woman is its original script. This movie wasn’t supposed to be a rom-com, apparently; the cast has noted that it was intended to be a dark, gritty drama before director Garry Marshall took over and changed the direction of the plot. Given the impact this film had on the rom-com boom of the 1990s, I’ve got to say it was a lucky move. Also, the original script was, according to Roberts, supposed to end thusly: “Richard’s character threw my character out of the car, threw the money on top of her and drove away and the credits rolled.”

Sappiness Rating: 10/10. The end of this movie. Climbing up a fire escape to deliver flowers to a lover before she departs. Sickly sweet. Wikipedia even described it as a “visual urban metaphor for the knight on a white horse rescuing the princess from the tower.” Blechhhhh.

Conclusion

The ultimate example of a movie that earns almost equal love and derision from both sides. I didn’t enjoy it but I definitely found writing this review to be interesting. There is a lot to like and a lot to hate, and that’s why this movie was memorable. Not necessarily good, but memorable.

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