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Pretty Woman

Starring: Richard Gere, Julia Roberts
Director: Garry Marshall
Genre: Comedy
Year: 1990
Rating: 4 / 5

Itís hard to believe that there was a time before most of America knew Julia Roberts. She has become such an international star, earning millions and basking in the warmth of her fansí adulation, that we lost sight of what it must have been like in 1990. Fresh off of a pair of duds (Satisfaction, Mystic Pizza) and an acclaimed supporting turn (Steel Magnolias), Roberts was hardly a bankable actress when she was cast opposite Richard Gere in Pretty Woman. Still in her early twenties, Roberts was a long way from the $20 million salaries and the Oscar accolades, but she showed early on the path that her career would take. A decade and a half later, Pretty Woman, despite a very dated soundtrack and some leftover kitsch from the 1980s, still ranks as one of the periodís most entertaining surprises, and that is no Cinderalla story.

Vivian Ward (Roberts) is a sweet young woman who just happens to make her living on the streets of Hollywood. Sharing a small, rundown apartment with best friend Kit (Lauren San Giacomo), Vivian gets the best break of her life when Edward Lewis pulls up to her street corner. Lost in more ways than one, Edward has Vivian guide him back to his downtown hotel, but a visit to his penthouse soon follows. In Los Angeles for the week on business, Edward is in need of a date, specifically someone who will be at his beck and call for the next few days. For a tidy sum of cash, Edward will squire Vivian around town, including various social events and important dinners. When the week is over, the two will part company, quite likely never to see each other again. Well, plans are meant to be changed.

What Vivian lacks in outward social graces, she more than makes up for with charm and a general goodness. With the help of hotel manager Barney Thompson (Hector Elizondo), Vivian is made into the perfect young socialite. She is treated to the finest meals and goes on lavish shopping sprees at the trendiest stores on Rodeo Drive. As she begins to be let into this world, she begins to chip away at the hardened Edward. Absorbed in his business dealings after the end of his marriage and another recent relationship, Edward has seldom taken time to enjoy life and the opportunities his lifestyle affords. The two begin to bring out remarkable things in each other, to the point that the end of the week seems like a truly sad specter instead of merely the conclusion of a business arrangement. If the two are able to see past their unusual beginnings, the potential for something special rests right around the corner.

Julia Roberts has been one of cinemaís most likeable actresses from the start, a fact that she illustrates quite capably in Pretty Woman. America identifies with her, even as her wealth and increasing fame have removed her from the general populace. She has always seemed so down-to-earth, just as her character Vivian is despite her ever-changing surroundings. Richard Gere makes for an ideal foil for the young Roberts, playing the suave Edward with a sort of restraint that belies his characterís worldly stature. Gere is often ridiculed for the sleazy characters he has played over time, but his twenty-plus years as a leading man offer a testament to his credentials. Together, the gentleman and his Pretty Woman make for quite the pair.

Cast:

Richard Gere..........Edward Lewis
Julia Roberts..........Vivian Ward
Hector Elizondo..........Barney Thompson

Certification: Rated R.
Running Time: 119 minutes.

Additional Info: Internet Movie Database
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