74. Pretty Woman

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Movie: Pretty Woman

Release Date: March 23, 1990

Director: Garry Marshall

Starring: Richard Gere, Julia Roberts.

Tag Lines: “Who knew it was so much fun to be a hooker?”

“She walked off the street, into his life and stole his heart.”

Relevance: I did not see ‘Pretty Woman’ when it played in theaters for one simple reason, Madonna. You’re shocked, I know. 1990 was a big year for Madonna. There was a movie, an album a number one song, two other top ten hits and a very successful and controversial tour. I of course was on board for all of it. From March through June, I ate, drank, slept and breathed all things Madonna, not that it was any different from any other time in my life. It was just much more intense. Everything else was, well, second best, baby.

I was definitely aware of ‘Pretty Woman’ as by that time I was already a fan of Julia Roberts. The film was released in March to very mixed reviews, but that didn’t stop audiences from going to see it. It was a huge box office success and eventually became the third highest grossing film of that year. I do know that I was at home from college that weekend when it was released. It was close to my nineteenth birthday and I was there to celebrate with friends and family. I was also there to solidify my Madonna tickets for when she played in Philadelphia that June. Priorities! My sister and her then fiancé (now husband) were home as well with two of their friends, who were also a couple. That weekend, on a double date, they went to see ‘Pretty Woman.’

After seeing the film, all four of them gave the movie enthusiastic thumbs up. Again, with my birthday celebration and living in Madonna’s world, I really didn’t care. I had bigger and better things on my mind. Eventually, June came and went and things started to settle down as far as Madonna was concerned. I was still living in post-Madonna live bliss, but I was now at least able to let other things enter my thought process once again. I did not see ‘Pretty Woman’ then, but I did start to focus on its soundtrack. I was really loving Roxette’s “It Must Have Been Love” song which eventually became a worldwide smash for them that year. I was also a huge fan of Go West’s “King of Wishful Thinking,” so as soon as I could I went to a music store and snatched up a copy of the soundtrack. I listened to that non-stop for the rest of the summer.

I did not see ‘Pretty Woman’ until it was released on home video. The first time I watched it was with my family over my Christmas holiday from college via Blockbuster. It was most definitely not my last time to watch it over that break however. I instantly loved the film, as did my mom. It was a very funny, romantic comedy with great performances. I fell in love with Julia Roberts even more. She was absolutely dazzling as the “hooker with a heart of gold.” The film was popular with everyone I knew back then. Every time I visited a friends house, the movie seemed to be playing. I probably saw the movie at least ten times over that month long period, and it never, ever got old.

‘Pretty Woman’ remained one of my favorite comedies and favorite films of all time. I have owned it on both VHS and DVD (as did my mom) and has been watched hundreds of times. It is often quoted and always remembered fondly. I have remained huge fans of both Julia Roberts and Richard Gere as well as the film’s director Garry Marshall. Their other collaboration, ‘Runaway Bride,’ although not on my list of most influential movies of all time, is beloved as well. The movie is now a classic and has many iconic moments, enough to even spawn a short lived Broadway musical. ‘Pretty Woman’ is a movie that always makes me smile, makes me laugh (a lot) and brings out the romantic side of me like very few movies can do.

Today’s Thoughts: “Welcome to Hollywood! What’s your dream? Everybody comes here; this is Hollywood, land of dreams. Some dreams come true, some don’t; but keep on dreamin’ – this is Hollywood. Always time to dream, so keep on dreamin’.”

I love watching ‘Pretty Woman’ and I have done it quite a lot over its now thirty year existence. It’s simply a great comedy and it always puts me in a great mood. Today, I really needed my mood enhanced as the world looks bleak and the weather looks even bleaker.

Nothing can chase away the grey rainy sky like a laugh from Julia Roberts. Its infectious. Once she laughs, I am laughing right along side of her. She made me giggle so many times today while I watched her as Miss Vivian. She has so many great moments in the film and looks fantastic in every single one of them. The lady can really deliver a line. “You’re late.” “You’re stunning.” You’re forgiven.” That sequence might be a throw away for some, but her face on “you’re forgiven” is priceless. She truly is remarkable in the film and deserved all of the accolades she received.

The rest of the cast, under the always impeccable direction of Garry Marshall, were equally effective. Richard Gere was hot and sexy. Hector Elizondo was superb. Laura San Giacomo was adorable and has two of my favorite lines. Jason Alexander was a scumbag. But a good scumbag. There are really great performances across the board, even those with one or two small scenes, and all seem perfectly cast. It makes the already grand movie, grander.

‘Pretty Woman’ gets a lot of flak for being a story about a prostitute that gets saved by a man. I see it differently. I see a strong woman that saves a man. But to each their own I guess. Regardless, even its strongest detractors can’t deny that it struck a chord with society thirty years ago so much so that it is revered as one of the greatest romantic comedies of all time today. It is a must see for any romantic or anyone that needs a laugh. And who doesn’t need a laugh these days.

Awards: Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role, Julia Roberts (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical, Julia Roberts (winner), Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical, Richard Gere (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture, Hector Elizondo (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Film (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Actress, Julia Roberts (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Costume Design, Marilyn Vance (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Screenplay – Original, J. F. Lawton (nomination), Writers Guild of America Award for Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen, J. F. Lawton (nomination).

Ways to Watch: fuboTV, iTunes, Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play, Vudu, DVD Availability.

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