Thursday, March 30, 2006

Pretty Woman...Again

Last night, I couldn't sleep, so I got out of bed, made myself some herbal tea, and began channel surfing. I came across a familiar sight -- Julia Roberts walking across Rodeo Drive in a short skirt and boots, flashing her credit cards around in an attempt to get saleswomen to pay attention to her. "I have money to spend here!" she says, only to be shirked off by the blond and perky saleswomen, who clearly think themselves too classy to wait on the likes of her. "We don't have anything for you," they say, shushing her away like an annoying mosquito. And so she storms off, despondent until the manager of the hotel, Hector Elizondo, saves the day, orchestrating things so Julia (Vivian) can acquire a drop dead cocktail outfit by her meeting with Richard Gere that evening. Whew! Of course, given that the movie has been out 16 years, and the fact that I have seen it at least a dozen times, I know everything that happens next, and so do you-- the fancy dinner out where Vivian tries to keep her dinner forks straight and negotiates escargots, the now famous quote by Richard Gere: "I'm taking the day off!" whereupon he spends the day in the park with Vivian, reading poetry and "copping a squat" on a grassy knoll somewhere; the polo scene where Jason Alexander as the sticky Phillip Stuckey makes everyone miserable by confronting poor Vivian with who she really is; the fancy flight via private jet from LA to San Francisco, where Vivian cries her heart out, allowing Edward to see that the woman of the street truly has a soul, in addition to looking particularly spectacular in a red gown and diamond necklace. And of course, the final fire escape scene, where Edward rescues Vivian complete with flowers in his teeth, and she becomes the princess who gets rescued by her knight in shining armor, just as she had requested in childhood fantasy.

Every time I watch "Pretty Woman," I am puzzled. Just why am I watching it again, particularly since I've always felt the movie sends the wrong message: go out and be a prostitute so you have a chance of picking up a handsome rich man like Richard Gere. But of course, there is more to it then that. Despite the highly questionable moral message, here's why I love this movie. Because I always liked Richard Gere for the hunk that he was and still is, and he does seek a higher moral imperative by finally seeing the light and creating new buildings instead of demolishing them for a living. Stuckey gets his due, which is infinitely satisfying. And let's face it, watching Julia Roberts dress up in fancy clothes and get her pride hurt and stand up for herself and take a lot of bubble baths and find some happiness in her pretty sorry life, not to mention her Pygmalion like transformation that begins when she loses the wig, is just plain fun. Circumstances aside, maybe we all see a little of ourselves in her, the grownup trying to make her childhood dreams comes true. These days, maybe a little Cinderella for the soul isn't such a bad thing.

I'm sure the movie will be on tv again soon, and I'll probably watch. I especially like the scene where....

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