[box cover]

Pretty Woman

Yes, its title has become shorthand for Hollywood's escapist tendency to sugar-coat some of the darker realities of life, but Pretty Woman (1990) is still an awfully entertaining movie. If you can suspend your disbelief long enough to buy a gorgeous, 23-year-old Julia Roberts (in her breakthrough role) as an L.A. hooker with (naturally) a heart of gold and a perfect set of teeth, there's plenty to enjoy in director Garry Marshall's Disney-fied romance. Roberts' charming performance, for one thing; her eager, genuine work as Vivian Ward — a street-smart gal whose tough talk is just a thin veneer over an intense vulnerability — is a pleasure to watch. Roberts gives Vivian a down-to-earth frankness and girl-next-door appeal that, when accompanied by that Titian mane, are almost as seductive for audiences as they are for wealthy, emotionally isolated Edward Lewis (a smoothly handsome Richard Gere), who hires Vivian on a whim and ends up offering her $3,000 to be his escort for the weekend at some important social functions related to his next big business deal. But while the movie may ultimately be a love story between Vivian and Edward, Roberts also gets plenty of chances to show off her fun, lighthearted side. Vivian's before-and-after Rodeo drive shopping expeditions are some of the movie's most memorable scenes (Marshall regular Larry Miller is a delight as the obsequious salesman), along with the fancy dinner at which Vivian accidentally sends an escargot sailing across the room. And the tentative-then-affectionate rapport she establishes with another Marshall stalwart, Hector Elizondo (as hotel manager Barney Thompson), is almost as endearing as her relationship with Edward. Pretty Woman may be a fairy tale — knights and white horses included — but it never really tries to be anything else. So grab some popcorn, curl up, and enjoy it for its romanticized, glossy nature; any attempt to hold it to higher standards would be, in Vivian's own words, "Big mistake. Big. Huge." Buena Vista's "15th Anniversary" edition of Pretty Woman updates the previous "10th Anniversary" disc, but only marginally. Still on board is Garry Marshall's 125-min. cut of the film, which expands a few moments at a time here and there, most significantly adding one scene when Edward is confronted by a group of L.A. toughs outside of The Blue Banana. The anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) is perfectly fine, with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio on board. Supplements are led off by a commentary track from director Garry Marshall, who records a new commentary to replace his version on the 10th Anniversary disc. Also new is an interactive map of the film's L.A. locations, with comments from Marshall, as well as "Live from the Wrap Party" (4 min.) and a blooper reel (2 min.). Meanwhile, returning from the 10th AE disc are a Natalie Cole music video, the 1990 production featurette, and the theatrical trailer. Keep-case.
—Betsy Bozdech

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