Review by Michael Jacobson
Julia Roberts, Richard Gere, Ralph Bellamy, Jason Alexander, Laura San
Giacomo, Hector Elizando
Director: Garry Marshall
Audio: PCM 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Features: See Review
Length: 120 Minutes
Release Date: February 10, 2009
hard to believe it's been over 15 years since Julia Roberts first walked off the
streets and into our hearts in Pretty Woman. It makes me feel kind of old.
like a high school yearbook, watching the movie was like reliving some warm,
wonderful memories. It had been
quite a number of years since I'd seen the picture, and the times in between
usually have me remembering the film as a pleasant diversion, if not
particularly original or monumental. But
maybe that's just the effects of becoming a crotchety old man.
I actually view it, I'm always struck by it's charm. It may not have many new ideas to offer, but it's a rare
romantic comedy that's actually both very romantic and very comical.
I'm always surprised at how much I laugh, and how touched I am by the
warmth of the screenplay and the characters.
Director Garry Marshall is reputed for delivering harmless, cozy comedies
that entertain, and Pretty Woman is a movie he can and does look back
upon with pride.
Roberts' star was rising rapidly at the time of the film, having garnered an
Oscar nomination for Steel Magnolias, but Pretty Woman showed the
world how ready she was to carry a full on starring role.
With her wide smile, sparkling eyes and natural knack for comedy, it's no
wonder guys like me fell in love with her.
of course, the picture marked a return to form for a graying, more elegant
version of Richard Gere. He may not
have been an officer anymore, but he was still very much the gentleman, and the
chemistry he shared with Ms. Roberts was the foundation that made the whole
picture stand tall.
plays Edward Lewis, a rich but sullen businessman who's great with numbers but a
little weak in matters of the heart. He's
in Beverly Hills to close a big deal while his relationship back in New York is
falling apart, and what he's looking for is a week where he can focus on
business without romantic entanglements.
Vivian Ward (Roberts), a prostitute with a heart of gold and the gleam of a
dream still in her eye. Edward
makes her an offer she can't refuse: accompany
him for the week while he attempts to by a foundering company in a billion
starts out as business turns into pleasure.
Vivian shows Edward how to really enjoy life for the first time with her
vivacious spirit, while Edward and his millions show Vivian the kind of life she
could only dream about. But the
sparks of romance are frequently dampened by disapproving stares by those close
to Edward, including his aggressive lawyer (Alexander).
Can the help of a kindly hotel manager (Elizando) turn Vivian from a
street girl into a princess before the proverbial clock strikes midnight?
it's part Pygmalion, part Cinderella, part My Fair Lady without
the Cockney accent...but it takes a really jaded heart not to fall for the spell
this picture weaves. It's the kind
of story that appeals to the dreamer in all of us.
I'd wager many women have fantasized about having a rich, handsome man
come into their lives and take them away...for my own part, I always dream about
having Edward's money and being able to romance a gal like Vivian.
There's something for all of us.
a couple of years will pass before I see Pretty Woman again.
Maybe in that time, my memory will start to cloud the experience, and my
attitude will start to grow dismissive again.
Maybe I'll come to my website and pull up my review and wonder what I was
thinking when I wrote it. Maybe
it'll inspire me to pop it in again.
I do, the simple pleasures of the film will wash over me again.
I'll smile, laugh, and applaud. Not
a bad cycle to find oneself in.
BONUS TRIVIA: That really is Richard Gere playing the piano in the bar scene.
High definition brings out the best in Pretty Woman, and this 1080p transfer offers more detail and contrast than before. Colors are much more natural looking, although a few seem a tad muted here and there, and every so often, there's some noticeable grain on the print.
The uncompressed audio offers a little more dynamic range this time around, though mostly from the terrific song score. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout, and the overall mix seems more natural and less forced than before.
Blu-ray edition boasts a handful of extras, starting with a commentary track
from the always delightful Garry Marshall. His warm enthusiasm and memories always make for an enjoyable
is a short gag reel, the original 1990 production featurette, a video from the
rap party (a rendition of "Please Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood"
featuring Richard Gere on piano and Garry Marshall on drums, and an attempt at
vocal from Julia Roberts), an interactive map of the L.A. locations hosted by
Marshall, a trailer and a video for Natalie Cole's "Wild Women Do".
A few more videos would have been nice considering how great the
I love it when they finally let her shop. Pretty Woman is a film with very specific goals in mind, and it hits every single one of them. Julia Roberts is radiant, Richard Gere is charming, and the spirited screenplay and direction make this a timeless romantic comedy, and it's great to finally enjoy it on Blu-ray.