Thursday, April 11, 2024

An Unrealistic Fairy Tale

Pretty Woman
Director: Garry Marshall
Cast: Julia Roberts, Richard Gere, Hector Elizondo, Jason Alexander
Released: March 23, 1990

Oscar nominations:
Best Actress - Julia Roberts (lost to Kathy Bates for Misery

This movie is just like Cinderella....but with a hooker! I can't take credit for that joke; it was said by a comedian on VH1's I Love the '90s (1990 edition). The more "family friendly" version of this movie would be Maid in Manhattan.  (Because she's a maid (in Manhattan!) and not a prostitute! Actually, the first sentence of that review is about that movie being the PG version of Pretty Woman.

One thing I want to know is how the hell did Vivian Ward (Julia Roberts) become a prostitute in the first place? Is it because her roommate/"friend" (you'll soon learn why I'm putting friend in quote marks), Kit, is one and she got her into the "business"? Now I don't know any prostitutes in real life, but I'm guessing, most, if any, don't look like Julia Roberts - because if you looked like Julia Roberts, you wouldn't need to be one! Seriously, she's in L.A. and she can't get work as a print model or on a game show modeling the prizes for the contestants or an acting gig on a soap opera? Everyone knows you don't need to be a good actor on a soap; you just need to be attractive! 

What we do know is that Vivian does want to "get out of here" and I don't blame her. She lives in a seedy apartment with her roommate and she has to avoid going out the front door or otherwise her landlord will stop her and demand the rent money which they do not have. She keeps her cash in a plastic box in the toilet tank and it looks like she barley has five bucks. She goes to a club called the Blue Banana (after getting dressed in her hooker attire) and confronts Kit who spent all their rent money on drugs. Not only that, but she still owes $200! Kit sucks! Why are they even friends? 

Meanwhile, at a business party, we meet Edward Lewis (Richard Gere) who is in town for business (and pleasure as we'll (and he'll!) soon find out!) He lives and works in New York City where he buys companies, then sells parts of them off. Later, Vivian will compare it to stealing cars and selling the parts and he agrees, but says what he does is legal. Wikipedia says he is a corporate raider. While Edward does have investors and banks give him money to help buy the companies, it is clear he has beaucoup d'argent. 

He leaves the party to go back to his hotel in Beverly Hills (not sure where the party was located) and he ends up taking his friend/lawyer's car because the limo he came in is buried behind other cars. His friend's name is Phillip, but let's be honest, most people would probably call him George because he's played by Jason Alexander aka George Costanza from Seinfeld. So Seinfeld premiered in 1989, but I feel like most people didn't start watching it until '92 or '93 so I doubt most people would know who he was if they saw this movie in the theater, but if they watched it much later, they would definitely be like, "Hey, it's George Costanza...and he plays a character that may be way more unlikable than he is in Seinfeld!" 

So the car Edward drives is a Lotus Esprit, which I admit, I've never heard of (eh, but I'm guessing most people have never heard of it). They wanted to use a Porsche or a Ferrari but they didn't give the film permission because they didn't want their cars associated with picking up prostitues....which I can't really blame them, but I'm sure they're kicking themselves after the fact, but I feel like they're fine. It't not like they needed the publicity and I'm sure it helped the Lotus Esprit with sales! He stops a couple of times asking people for directions. How the hell did we ever live in a society without GPS? He stops along the side of Hollywood Boulevard where Vivian and Kit are working. Right away they can tell it's a guy with a lot of money because of the car. Kit tells Vivian she "should go for him" because she "looks hot" and she shouldn't "take less than 100." Less than $100? WTF? She should be charging WAY more than that! That seems really cheap! There will be other monetary head scratchers that I'll mention later. I guess 1990 was so long ago that the money seems like a lot, but today, it just seems like it's barely nothing. 

So she struts up to his car and asks if he's looking for a date and he tells her he needs directions. She charges five dollars at first, but then ups it to twenty when she gets in the car to personally be his navigator. He's staying at the Regent Beverly Wilshire, a posh hotel. 

When they reach the hotel, Vivian tells him she's going to take a cab back with her twenty bucks. She had told him earlier she charged $100 an hour and he asks her to accompany her into the hotel. Now I don't know if he felt bad that he made her wait outside for the bus (she told him she was going to take a cab back, then a minute later, she tells him she prefers the bus...this is very confusing) or if he was just horny. Could be both. I mean, it's not like they go at it once they get up to the penthouse where they're staying. He wants them to talk a little first. Before they enter the hotel, he gives Vivian his coat so she can cover herself up. Keep in mind she's wearing her hooker attire which consists of a short skirt and thigh high black leather boots that just scream STREET WALKER. They also looks seriously uncomfortable and look like a pain in the ass to put on and remove. 

They enter the hotel and instead of keeping the jacket cinched around her (yes, the unfortunate boots are still visible), she keeps it open, purposely showing off her outfit. Of course, people are staring at her and this prompts her to be especially uncouth in front of a conservative elderly couple and she pretty much flashes them. Honestly, at this point, she's being rude just for the sake of being rude and Edward should have told her to leave. 

Before they get on the elevator, Edwards stops at the front desk to request champagne and strawberries be sent up to his room (what a cliche!) and I have to give the concierge a lot of credit for keeping her business face on because she can clearly see Vivian in her hooker attire standing against a post. Like, she knows what's up. Then later, the man who delivers the stuff sees her. I can only imagine the gossip among the staff at this posh hotel. When you think of hookers, you think of seedy motels. I've seen CSI:; that's where they always find the bodies of prostitutes. Speaking of which, that has to be the best way to get yourself murdered. The clientele for prostitues has to be pretty unsavory. This is why I don't understand why Vivian isn't behaving a little more ladylike. Edward is a good-looking rich guy who hasn't given any indication that he's going to murder her, so she's on the right path so far! He's not even married or seeing anyone! We know she knows this because she asks him if he has a wife or a girlfriend and he tells her he has both, but that's not true because they're both his exes. He should have told her he used to be married and that he just broke up with his girlfriend (which is the first scene of the movie). 

He asks her how much it would cost if she spent the entire night and she tells him that he couldn't afford it, then tells him it would cost $300. Huh? The math isn't mathing. First of all, he's staying the week in a penthouse of a posh hotel. I think he can part with a measly $300. Also, if she says her hourly rate is $100/hr, why would she charge him only $300 for the whole night? It makes no sense. 

There's a scene where she's in the bathroom and when he comes in, she quickly hides something behind her back. He thinks it's drugs and tells her to get out, but when he reaches behind her to grab her her, it's just dental floss that she was using because she was trying to get the strawberry seeds stuck in her teeth. Aside from having the scene to think she was using drugs, I'm not sure why she was hiding floss behind her back. Was it his dental floss and she didn't want him to know she was using it? I'm sure he was confused too because why didn't she just tell him it was dental floss when he was accusing her of using drugs? 

The next morning it is revealed that the blonde bob Vivian was sporting was just a wig and she has a whole mass of curly red the hell did she pile all of her hair under that wig? She asks Edward if she can use his tub before she leaves and he lets her. He's getting ready for his day of meetings and is on the phone with Phillip who has set up a dinner meeting for Edward with Mr. Morse, the owner of Morse Industries which Edward is planning on buying. He'll be bringing his grandson, David, who will eventually take over the company. Philip doesn't think Edward should attend the meeting alone and he should bring a date and "keep it social." I would understand this if Mr. Morse had brought his wife, but obviously this is only in here so Edward can ask Vivian to accompany him. 

He goes in the bathroom where she's taking a bubble bath and has her eyes closed and is singing along to Prince with headphones on. She seems unaware that he's in the room for a good couple of minutes which I find hard to believe. He tells her he has "a business proposition" for her. He will be in town until Sunday and wants her to spend the week with him. They start negotiating a price. She wants $4000 for the full six days and nights. He goes down to $2000 and when she says $3000, that price is agreed on. Huh? Again, this seems really cheap. I guess $3000 was a lot in 1990 because she seems ecstatic about it. She could have easily gotten $10,000. That was terribly negotiating on her part, especially when she tells him later she would have stayed for $2000. He tells her he would have paid $4000. Before he leaves for the day, she tells him, "I'm gonna treat you so nice, you're never gonna want to let me go." He says he will let her go and her face drops. But don't worry, they haven't properly fallen in love yet! 

After he leaves, she calls Kit to tell her what's going on. She tells her she's already got $300 from last night and is going to leave it at the front desk for Kit to come and pick up. Why the hell is she leaving money for this woman? The same woman who spent their rent money on drugs? 

Edward has left some money for Vivian to buy some clothes. Now we all know what happens next: she goes into a very chic shop on Rodeo Drive wearing her hooker attire because that's the only outfit she has. The shopkeepers are rude to her and tell her she needs to leave because she's "obviously in the wrong spot." Yes, they were being snotty as all hell, but I don't know why Vivian thought it was appropriate to wear a short skirt, a top where a bunch of skin is showing and her hooker boots to a very luxurious Beverly Hills shop. Let's workshop how she could have done this better:

-She could have worn her red coat over her outfit. (I don't know if I mentioned this earlier, but she does have her own coat.) Sure, it would look like she wasn't wearing any pants, but at least she would be a bit more covered up. Though there is still the problem of her hooker boots. 

-She could have worn one of Edward's white button down shirts. That's actually what she does when they go shopping the day after and by then she will have more appropriate heels, but she would still have those damn ugly boots. 

I actually 100% blame Edward for this. Even if Vivian did cover herself up with her jacket or one of his shirts, she'd still have the boots which are by far the sleaziest part of her outfit. I'm sorry, but they are just so cheap looking! It turns out that if he had asked the hotel's manger, Bernard Thompson (Hector Elizondo), he would have been able to get the right ensemble for Vivian. That's what happens when Vivian comes back to the hotel after her failed shopping excursion. Bernard stops her and asks to have a chat with her. He tells her that "things that go on at other hotels don't happen at the Regent Beverly Wilshire", but since Mr. Lewis is "a very special customer", they're willing to overlook the fact that he hasn't signed her in. He prompts her to say that she's a relative of his and she agrees, saying that she's his niece. He confirms that he won't see her again once Mr. Lewis leaves and assumes she has no other uncles here and she just rolls her eyes. When he encourages her to "dress more appropriately", she tells him she tried, and this is when he gets on the phone and asks for women's clothing. Now I wasn't sure if this was part of the hotel because when we see her getting the dress, it looks like she's in a hotel, but when Bernard calls, he introduces himself as being from the Beverly Wilshire. She ends up getting a cocktail dress and heels that she wears to dinner that night with Edward.

The next day she will go with Edward to continue shopping, but this time she's wearing a white shirt over her hooker attire (which has to stink; this is the third day she's worn it!), but this time she's wearing heels so at least the look doesn't scream STREET WALKER. They go to a store and this is when we get the "Pretty Woman" montage with Vivian trying on all the clothes she will buy. Of course, this is when we get the famous scene where she's all dolled up in her white dress and black hat looking gorgeous and she goes back to the snooty store and asks them if they remember her. Of course they don't, so she reminds them she was in there yesterday and they wouldn't wait on her. When she asks if they work on commission and they confirm, she holds up her many shopping bags and tells them, "Big mistake. Big. Huge." It's probably the most famous scene in the movie so I get why they plotted it that way.

When she returns to the hotel in her sophisticated new look, Bernard looks like a proud dad. Before she went to the fancy dinner with Edward and Mr. Morse and his grandson, Bernard had taught her what fork to use for what item and how to behave like a lady. Isn't this what he does for Mia Thermopolis before she becomes the Princess of Genova? They should have had Hector Elizondo play the same character in The Princess Diaries! Maybe Bernard gets promoted to being an assistant for Queen Julie Andrews! Missed opportunity there! 

So at the fancy dinner, Edwards orders food for Vivian while she's in the ladies' room and when she comes back, she finds a plate of escargots. Now I've had escargots a couple times at a French restaurant (they were good!), but they were much smaller and weren't in the shell like they are here. She has to use some kind of tool to crack the shell and ends up sending the snail flying. You would think at a fancy restaurant, they would have the escargots all prepared; it seems like a pain trying to crack the shell, and honestly, it didn't look that appetizing either. 

To be honest, I didn't quite understand/care about the business parts of this movie (boring!), but all I know is that Edward wants to buy Morse Industries, but Mr. Morse doesn't want to sell and wants his grandson, David to take over. Something like that. 

Edward and Vivian attend a polo game (it's all part of business because David plays in the game) and Phillip and his wife are also in attendance so Edward introduces Vivian to them. After the match, David comes over to say hi to Vivian and shows her his horse. Phillip sees this and is worried Vivian might be a spy working for the other side. He asks Edward how they met and what she does. He replies that he helped him with directions and that she's in "sales". Phillip presses more, but Edward won't tell him what she sells. Phillip asks him, "How do you know she hasn't attached herself to you and is bringing information to Morse?" He thinks she might be "industrial espionage." This is when Edward reveals that she's a hooker and he picked her up on Hollywood Boulevard. That's such a jerk move to do. While he talks to a VIP guest, Philip has a smug look on his face and walks over to Vivian and asks her if she's having a nice time and that it "must be quite a change from Hollywood Boulevard." Her smile quickly disappears and she's clearly uncomfortable. He explains that Edward told him and that her "secret is safe with [him]" and sleazily tells her that maybe they could get together sometime. 

Rightly, Vivian is angry at Edward and lashes out at him when they return to the penthouse. He tells her that he's not happy he told Phillip that, but makes an excuse that he's his lawyer and he's known him for ten years and that he (Phillip) thought she as "an industrial spy" and that he's "paranoid." 

They fight and Vivian tells him she's sorry she met him and that she ever got in his car. She gathers her stuff and asks for her money, but when he throws it on the bed, she doesn't take it. While waiting for the elevator, he apologizes, saying he doesn't want her to go and admits he was jealous when she was talking to David. She stays and tells him he hurt her and not to do it again.

We find out Vivian ended up in L.A. because she followed a guy there, but quickly found herself without any money or friends and it didn't work out with the guy. Before she became a prostitute, she worked at a couple fast food places, but couldn't make the rent and was too ashamed to go home. She met Kit and she made being a hooker "sound so great"(I'm guessing the money), and she started doing it and "got some regulars". I guess she wasn't too ashamed to do that! 

After the shopping montage and revenge line, the scene that's probably tied with it for most famous in the movie is when Vivian is wearing the iconic red dress and Edward shows her the (very expensive) necklace to go with it. When she reaches to touch it, he snaps the box close and she laughs. Everyone knows this scene even if they've never seen this movie. This is when they fly to San Fransisco to attend an opera. They see La Traviata and the main song is one of my favorites and one of the only opera songs I'm familiar with. They sit in balcony seats and after the opera, an elderly woman asks Vivian if she enjoyed it and she replies, "It was so good, I almost peed my pants." The woman is confused and Edward tells her, ""She said she like it better than Pirates of Penzance." Sure, it's a funny moment, but it doesn't make much sense. Usually people "pee their pants" if something scares them, not if they like something a lot. I liked the few seconds where the confused old woman is trying to figure out if that's what she actually said. 

The next day, Vivian suggests Edward take the day off and he agrees since he owns the company. Taking a day off is something Edward hardly does so you know this means that he has feelings for her! We see them eating a picnic in the park as he reads Shakespeare sonnets to her, then they have dinner in a diner. They end their day in bed with some passionate kissing and you know that she has feelings for him because when they first met, she told him she does "everything" except kiss on the mouth. I guess because it's too intimate and that's only reserved for people she has true feelings for. Now you know they are both in love! 

The week is nearly over and Edward tells Vivian that his business is nearly done and he'll be going back to New York. He tells her he would like to see her again and he can arrange for her to have an apartment, a car, and "a wide variety of stores that'll suck up to you anytime you want to go shopping." Vivian does not look thrilled. He asks her what she sees happening between them and she says "I don't know." She tells him about when she was a little girl and  her mom used to lock her in the attic when she was bad "which was pretty often." She would pretend to be a princess "trapped in a tower by a wicked queen." A knight on a white horse would climb up the tower to rescue her. Never once when she thought about this fantasy did the knight say to her, "Come on, baby. I'll put you up in a great condo." Before they can discuss anything further, Edward gets a phone call from Phillip and needs to meet with Mr. Morse. He tells Vivian "this is all I'm capable of right now." Vivian replies "It's a really good offer for a girl like me." She just wants more 

Kit comes to the hotel and they talk at the pool. Kit realizes her friend is in love with Edward, but Vivian denies it, but then pretty much admits it, but knows it won't work out and wants Kit to name someone that something like this has happened to before. Kit has to think, then comes up with Cinderella. (Well, actually she says "Cinder-f***ing-rella"). They just both laugh. 

Edward decides to work with Morse instead of buying his company and this doesn't make Philip happy. While he was being sleazy at the polo game, he physically assaults her and tries to sexually assault her at the penthouse, but Edward comes back in time before anything worse can happen and tells him to get out and to never come back. After making sure Vivian is okay, they talk about his previous offer. She tells him a few months ago, she would have taken it, but things have changed and now she "wants more", she "wants the fairy tale." He basically tells her he can't offer her that. He pays her and gives her his card, telling her that if she ever needs anything, for her to call him. Before she leaves, he asks her to stay the night with him; not because he's paying her, but because he wants her to. She tells him she can't. 

After Vivian says goodbye to Bernard, he insists that he have Darryl (the hotel's designated driver, it seems) drive her wherever she needs to go instead of taking a cab. The next day, back at her crappy apartment with Kit, we find out she plans to move to San Francisco where she'll get a job and finish high school. She gives Kit money and says it's "from the Edward Lewis scholarship fund." I'm not sure how much she gave her, but I'm assuming at least half. Is this really a good idea to give a drug addict all that money? Hmm, probably not. They say goodbye because Vivian's bus will arrive within an hour...gee, I hope that's enough time for a certain somebody to get there before she's gone forever! (Oh, it's not like you know what's going to happen at the end!) 

Back at the Beverly Wilshire, Edward tells Bernard that he'll need a car to the airport and he arranges for Darryl to take him wherever he needs to go. (Question: what if Darryl is driving someone else at that moment? Do they have other drivers on standby?) Edward also requests that the necklace be returned (oh, did I mention he was only borrowing it?). Bernard asks permission to open the box and look at it. He comments, "It must be so difficult to let go of something so beautiful." Subtle, Bernard. And if you didn't think Edward didn't get his point (or if the audience didn't get it), he adds that Darryl drove Vivian home yesterday, thus hinting that Darryl knows where she lives. 

Well, surprise, surprise, Edward ends up arriving at her apartment in the white limo (not a white horse, but close enough) and climbs up the fire escape. Once he reaches her, he asks, "So what happened after he climbed up the tower and rescued her?" and she replies, "She rescues him right back." They kiss and I roll my eyes. This would be a great time to comment about the trailer because this exchange is in it! What the hell? Why would you have the very last scene in the movie? Also, it seems they're telling the audience that they end up together in the end. The trailer for this movie makes it look like a slapstick comedy. She's a prostitute who doesn't know how to behaving in social situations and must learn how to act like a lady! He's the millionaire who can't seem to find love and ends up falling for her! Hijinx ensue! 

Also, we can all agree these two aren't staying together, right? I give it six months, tops. Ironically, it probably would have been better for her to go to San Francisco and finish school there. In New York, she's probably just going to be Edward's trophy girlfriend and just sit around in his nice apartment and go shopping all the time. Sure, it sounds cushy, but what's going to happen once they break up? She'll probably end up on the streets again! 

However, if they do make it and end up together and have children, there's no way they're going to tell their kids how they met, right? They're going to need to come up with a cover story! 

This movie is a bit unrealistic, but it is a '90s classic for sure.