There are some movies that define their genre. Sci-fi has Star Wars. Comedies have a whole myriad of films, but most would likely think of something Mel Brooks. Action has the Die Hard series. And romantic comedies? While there have been many recent hits, none can rival the popularity and appeal of Pretty Woman. With Richard Gere and Julia Roberts in their prime, the pair lit up the screen in a romantic mixture that would later be cloned by a myriad of films down the line. There is no debating, however, that Pretty Woman is pretty much the genre defining film of the 1990s and continues to be the top of romantic comedy lovers lists.
Vivian (Roberts) is a spirited, streetwise diamond in the rough when she meets no-nonsense billionaire Edward (Gere). It’s a chance encounter that turns a weeklong business arrangement into a timeless rags-to-riches romance when Edward hires Vivian to be his date and discovers there’s a lot more to her than meets the eye. Pretty Woman on Blu-ray™ Hi-Def is sure to seduce viewers all over again with its celebrated comedy, charm and passion!
Pretty Woman was the movie in my house that my mom had to own. As soon as it arrived on VHS, my dad bought it for her. As soon as the DVD arrived, she had to have it. Now with the Blu-ray out, will she want that too? Not likely. See, despite her owning the film she’s never actually watched either the VHS or the DVD, so it was more just the novelty of owning it. But that’s the type of film that Pretty Woman is—it’s the pinnacle romantic comedy and whenever the urge hits to watch such a film, chances are it’s going to be Pretty Woman you reach for.
The films appeal is wide. It doesn’t limit itself to the standard rom-com crowd and has enough going for it that it manages to reel in the male audience as well. The R-rating may have something to do with it, as it’s not limited to keeping things tame for the larger PG-13 audience. Not to say the film is absolutely smutty or anything, but it is definitely a more adult store than your average Valentine’s Day flick (although this year was a horror movie so…you know…that’s not exactly average either).
But enough about the reception of it—does the film still hold up? Surprisingly yes. In fact the concept of a rich gentleman falling in love with a “working girl” still feels current and something that would be just as plausible today as it was in 1990. The film really just works because it takes a classic “Cindarella” type story and amplifies it into a modern society. Princes replaced with billionaires and lowly house servants replaced with…well, prostitutes. But that’s just what happens when you modernize a love story like that, I guess.
What really keeps the film working to this day is the chemistry between Gere and Roberts. Their on screen antics were just as engaging as they were in 1990 (I assume, anyway; I hadn’t actually seen this film until recently). On top of that the film earned an Oscar nomination for Roberts, which was just one of many for her, so clearly she did something right in this film.
Overall it’s hard to talk too much about Pretty Woman. It’s a modern classic. To call it anything less than that would be a disservice to the film and the genre it stands atop of. While still too adult for the majority of the teeny boppers who populate the theaters now, this is really probably one of the strongest and most widely-appealing romantic comedies of all point. Recommended.
Buena Vista has pushed out Pretty Woman on Blu-ray in a single disc Elite Blu-ray case with the usual advertisements inside. While the AVC encoded 1.85:1 1080p video may not blow you away with astounding visuals, it’s still no slacker in the detail department. While there is a general haze of age over the entire film, there is a great amount of detail to be gleaned from the picture. Whether it’s the outfits on the characters or the bubbles in a bubble bath, the film simply looks crisp with a little bit of age thrown in for good measure. Nothing that will astound, mind you, but it is certainly more than adequate for this film.
A surprising addition is the 5.1 Uncompressed LPCM track. Disney is just about the only company I know of that includes these anymore (or ever, really) as they suck up disc space like no other. The benefits when compared to DTS-HD or TrueHD isn’t really all that great either unless you have some precisely tuned equipment, but for the most part the 5.1 track is more than pleasing. What really stands out is the films ample soundtrack that gets a full spread throughout the speakers and…well, that’s really all you’ll find on this track that has a spread. The dialogue is crisp and clean in the front channels, but there isn’t a whole lot that makes its way around the room.
Extras here are repeats from the previous DVD releases and include:
Blooper Reel (2:37)
Live From the Wrap Party (4:05)
LA: The ‘Pretty Woman’ Tour (9:11)
1990 Production Featurette (3:45)
“Wild Woman Do” Performed by Natalie Cole (4:09)
Feature Audio Commentary with Director Garry Marshall
Theatrical trailer (2:39)
The big ticket on this set is, of course, the commentary. This is really a great track as it offers some perspective on how big the film eventually got. The rest of the extras are all time period placed and don’t really shine much light on the impact it had on the careers of those involved. A retrospective piece for the release would’ve been appreciated, but I guess it’d cost too much to get Roberts and Gere together again to record such a piece.
Overall this release’s only upgrade past the old releases is in the video and audio department which, while nice, is really not worth ponying up the cash for. Having said that there is a $10 rebate being offered, so if you’re looking to expand the Blu-ray collection for little money, then you might want to go ahead and drop the cash on this one. Recommended for new owners, but those who own it already can safely skip on by it.
Pretty Woman is now available on Blu-ray.