29 Days of Romance, Review #14: Pretty Woman (1990)

29 Days of Romance, Review #14: Pretty Woman (1990)


Pretty Woman poster

Directed by: Garry Marshall. Starring: Richard Gere, Julia Roberts, Jason Alexander.  Runtime: 1h 59 min. Released: March 23, 1990.

Another day, another first time viewing of a classic. This time it’s Pretty Woman, the film that catapulted Julia Roberts into stardom. Here, she plays Vivian, a prostitute who is hired by a businessman, Edward Lewis (Richard Gere) to accompany him for the week to social events and they end up falling in love.

In story, I think what’s most interesting about Pretty Woman is how elegantly it handles the class issue and how everyone sticks up their noses at Vivian because she’s a prostitute and because of the way she dresses. It’s not a film about transforming her into a pretty woman (which, let’s be real, she is from the start) but increasing her confidence about herself and the way she’s viewed.

At least, that’s how I took it – but it’s also just called that because of the song. It’s kind-of great watching the dress montage for the first time when “Pretty Woman” by Roy Orbison plays. When they played the chords for it but didn’t actually play the lyrics the first time I was grumpy for a minute until they actually went into it.

As for Roberts’ performance itself, it’s amazing. Vivian is just someone you root for. She’s so likable, playful and down-to-Earth and she is just plainly herself. What you see is what you get. The way she’s able to win over characters around her like the hotel manager Barney Thompson (a wonderful Hector Elizondo) feels authentic and effortless. Roberts is so charming in this great role and it’s no wonder this made her a star and brought her a second Oscar nomination.

Her chemistry with Richard Gere is also strong – and there are some steamy scenes – and since I wanted to see Vivian happy, I rooted for Edward to do the right thing. I just didn’t really care about his side of the story all that much, which really becomes the core story because truthfully there is not that much going on in Vivian’s life, but it’s interesting learning about her backstory and how she went into prostitution. Anyway, Edward’s a big corporate bully trying to take over a company owned by James Morse (Ralph Bellamy), which he will sell for much more money.

I just cared about the romance and Vivian, and that’s where the film was strong and very funny. Their chemistry grew throughout and I did like Edward towards the end of the film. One great part about their romance is that Vivian has a rule about no kissing on the lips, so when there is kissing, all bets are off and it becomes even more charming.

Pretty Woman article
Richard Gere and Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. (IMDb)

I liked Edward towards the end of the film when his arc was complete – fully wanting to take down companies to growing a heart – but the character’s boring throughout. I like Gere in Primal Fear, but I just didn’t think he left much of an impression here. It could be the point near the beginning since he’s a corporate jackass, but when I looked at his eyes, they seemed cold. There’s just nothing there – like he sold his soul for the best parking spot. His girlfriend dumps over the phone near the beginning of the film and that doesn’t affect him in the slightest. I get it, he’s stoic, but it’s not likable.

I just didn’t care for the character until the end where he seemed like a real human being. To be fair, he feels authentic when he’s with Vivian and Gere plays the boring character well because his calm demeanor matches well with Roberts’ bubbly personality. I do think Roberts brings enough charm for the two of them, too.

At least Edward has more bite to him as a character than his lawyer sidekick Phillip Stuckey (Jason Alexander), and you just know he’s bad news when he has a name like Stuckey. He’s a weasel and a creep who feels like an amalgamation of everyone who treats her like a prostitute and not like a human. He’s not a good person and he’s cliched to a point where he makes the dress saleswomen – who shooed Vivian away near the beginning of the film – look like her best friends. Most of the material in J.F. Lawton’s screenplay is very solid, but Stuckey is the one thing that feels very unrealistic in how he progresses from unfunny sidekick lawyer to total scumbag. That arc comes out of left field and is only present for conflict between Vivian and Edward. Though, for Alexander, he’s talented and I’m glad he’s mainly known as George Costanza and not Phillip Stuckey. Thank heavens for Seinfeld.

Score: 75/100



Movie 43 (2013)

Movie 43Movie 43

Release Date: January 25, 2013

Directors: Elizabeth Banks, Steven Brill, Peter Farrelly (and 10 others)

Stars: Liev Schreiber, Emma, Stone, Richard Gere

Runtime: 94 min

I just watched a version online, and I believe it was the version released in the U.K.; it’s an alternate plot to the U.S. version that doesn’t have Dennis Quaid pitching crazy ideas to a studio. I was not going to spend money on this.

Movie 43 is a haphazardly edited sketch comedy that stars as many A-list actors (including Emma Stone, Richard Gere, Kate Bosworth, Liev Schreiber, Naomi Watts, Justin Long, Kristen Bell, and Elizabeth Banks, to name a few) as the filmmakers could convince that this movie would be lots of fun to make. Charles Wessler achieves his vision: A satire that brings up common issues in the most offensive of ways, and it is the most outrageous comedy ever made.

But it is also one awful movie. If only his passion project (an idea that he’s had for over a decade) wasn’t so silly. Saturday Night Live has okay sketches, good sketches and those rare great sketches. This, however, has awful sketches, bad sketches, and just tolerable, but kind-of funny sketches. Even if you do laugh at some points, it doesn’t stop this from being one bad, bad film. This is still sort-of imaginative and quite original, and unlike anything you’ve seen at the movie theatre before. It’s one of those times where too many cooks in the kitchen (13 directors, a huge cast, 30 writers) really spoils the broth. Apparently, it takes thirteen directors, 102 credited cast members and thirty writers to make a really bad film.

The plot follows three adolescent boys who are searching the depths of the internet for Movie 43, the world’s most banned feature. The two older teens who tell a younger brother, the incredibly irritating Baxter who looks like he’s really ten years old, about Movie 43 are really just making it up because they want some April Fool’s revenge. Little do they know is that the video could very well end the world, somehow.

That makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, nor is it explained. It’s completely random and idiotic. This backstory manages to be worse than some of the comedy sketches, to a point where you might actually want to see another bad sketch. This is because the actors in the background story have little to no charisma, and they’re increasingly annoying and bland.

While the idea of sketch comedies in movies is fairly new, this is still trash. The plot is almost as disorganized as every spoof movie out there. If this is compared to Scary Movie 5, this might as well be an Oscar contender. This is definitely not for the easily offended. The humour is thoroughly crude, offensive, absurd, violent, vulgar, inane, insane, sophomoric and rarely funny; but it’s ironic that I’ve seen a lot more nudity in less offensive films. So… Humour that will offend almost the entire world is okay, but extreme nudity is off the table? Hmm.

Out of the movie’s thirteen comedy sketches, there are thirteen stupid and fairly offensive ones. The one with Terrence Howard is hardly funny at all. The sketch showing that people get much too angry with machines and it upsets the kids inside the machines is incredibly stupid, but it’s creative. There are arguably five tolerable ones, but there are none that provide consistent laughs. The ‘Super Hero Dating’ segment with Jason Sudeikis and Justin Long has a few solid jokes, and it’s an imaginative look into the culture of super hero impersonators. It’s the movie’s strongest segment (even if it’s hardly great). The ‘Happy Birthday’ segment with Seann William Scott and Johnny Knoxville also has some good laughs (albeit forgettable), but it is one of the movie’s more violent and vulgar segments. The ‘Truth or Dare’ segment starring Stephen Merchant and Halle Berry is funny in the beginning, but it progressively gets worse until it falls on its face. Suffice to say, the ‘Happy Birthday’ and ‘Super Hero Dating’ sketches are my favourite, and they are somewhat entertaining.

SPOILERS FOLLOW IN THIS FUNNY PARAGRAPH, I briefly describe the film’s worst three sketches. It seems as if the movie is designed to have the worst three sketches at the beginning of the film. The first sketch has Hugh Jackman sporting a pair of testicles under his chin and it is unfunny and unwatchable. It’s a one-joke sketch where it seems as if Kate Winslet’s character is the only one to notice the prominent nuts. Though, it does show that society cannot help but judge someone for the way they look. The second sketch features Liev Schreiber and Naomi Watts homeschooling their child and mercilessly bullying him to a point where he will definitely need to be institutionalized. The third sketch features Anna Farris requesting Chris Pratt to poop on her (you read that right) because it’s apparently a big step in a relationship. Apparently, it’s okay to poop on women, but it’s frowned upon to sh*t on them. Because if you shit on a gal, it’s deemed very offensive. (Read the next part very sarcastically.) Wow. This is the world of my dreams. I’ve always wanted to live in a world where the norm is to poop on women and have a pair of testicles dangling under my chin. Oh, someone, take me there! I can’t take this society where women bitch about me even farting in their general direction! END OF SPOILERS.

Alas, this movie is awful. (But, I am able to use the word ‘alas’ in one of my reviews.) I’ve seen much worse, but it’s really, really, really, stupid. The laughs are forgettable; but it’s the disturbing sketches that are unforgettable. Much to my dismay, this stuff kind-of just sticks with you… Forever.