"Pretty Woman: 15th Anniversary Special Edition"
by Kevin Carr
|| MOVIE: **** (out of 5 stars)
DVD EXPERIENCE: *** (out of 5 stars)
Richard Gere as EDWARD LEWIS
Julia Roberts as VIVIAN WARD
Hector Elizondo as THE HOTEL MANAGER
Ralph Bellamy as JAMES MORSE
Jason Alexander as PHILIP STUCKEY
Laura San Giacomo as KIT DE LUCA
Directed by: Garry Marshall
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I once heard Nora Ephron say there are two types of romantic comedies: the Christian type and the Jewish type. In the Christian type, some sort of outside force keeps the lovers apart. In the Jewish type, the only thing keeping the two apart is their own neuroses. A classic example of the Jewish type of romantic comedy is “When Harry Met Sally.”
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While people will go back and forth on what the quintessential Christian type of romantic comedy is, I will lay my money down on “Pretty Woman” ever day. Ever since this film was released in 1990, it has been the template for romantic comedies. It has been often imitated and never duplicated (even though they desperately tried to rekindle the chemistry with the below-average “Runaway Bride” not too long ago).
I’ve always loved this film, even though it is a class-A chick flick. I like a good romantic comedy when it comes around, and “Pretty Woman” fits the bill. In fact, it was one of the first DVDs I ever bought when my wife and I got our first DVD player years ago. (Actually, “Pretty Woman” was my wife’s DVD; “The Matrix” was mine.)
“Pretty Woman” has stood the test of time for the past fifteen years, and it seems like it will continue doing so. This film relied one tremendous chemistry - not just the on-screen chemistry between Richard Gere (revitalizing his career with this film) and ingenue Julia Roberts, but also with the actors and director Garry Marshall.
In fact, “Pretty Woman” was so monumental of a film that Marshall has kept traditions in his films that were started here. Examples include the waiter who catches the snail (who reprises his role in the two “Princess Diaries” movies) as well as the recurring cast members Hector Elizondo and Larry Miller.
Perhaps the only thing that was a thorn in this movie was Julia Roberts’ Oscar nod for her role of Vivian Ward. A blinding sign of pandering by the Academy to appeal to the mainstream, Roberts was undeservedly nominated with no shot of winning. It wasn’t until she chewed some more acting meat in “Erin Brockovich” that she managed to woo the Academy.
It’s nice to revisit this movie, partly to see Roberts as a young soon-to-be star. She’s not the arrogant, hairy-armpit Hollywood freak that she is now. Having had enough hits under her belt and now a set of twins, she’s declaring herself retired. I guess this is okay, considering she went past her prime about five years ago. Everything I’ve seen her in this century has been a bit weak (excluding the aforementioned “Erin Brockovich,” but then again that was in 2000 and still technically part of last century).
This 15th anniversary DVD isn’t as good as I would expect. While the previous “Pretty Woman” disc had only a mere director’s commentary, this has plenty of content. It’s just that the bonus content isn’t the greatest. The blooper reel is only somewhat funny, and the “Live from the Wrap Party” is really just a chance to watch a drunk Julia Roberts sing. There’s a run-of-the-mill 1990 production featurette as well as the original trailer and a music video by Natalie Cole.
The best part of these new special features is the new commentary track by Garry Marshall. He always delivers a great commentary - even on his crappy movies - and gives a great retrospective of the “Pretty Woman” phenomenon after a decade and a half.
Specifications: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. Widescreen (1.85:1) - Enhanced for 16x9 televisions. French language track. French and Spanish subtitles. English language subtitles for the hearing impaired.