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HTF BLU-RAY REVIEW: Pretty Woman



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#1 of 1 Matt Hough

Matt Hough

    Executive Producer

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  • LocationCharlotte, NC

Posted February 02 2009 - 03:21 PM


Pretty Woman (Blu-ray)
Directed by Garry Marshall

Studio: Touchstone
Year: 1990
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:11080pAVC codec
Running Time: 119 minutes
Rating: R
Audio: PCM 5.1 English; Dolby Digital 5.1 English; 2.0 French, Spanish, others
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, others
Region: A-B-C
MSRP: $ 34.99

Release Date: February 10, 2009
Review Date: February 2, 2009


The Film

3.5/5

Producer-director Garry Marshall has a habit of generating extremely slick, supremely entertaining screen material. That's great, but what's so amazing is that he often makes these films from sometimes less than first-rate material. Pretty Woman is a cross between Pygmalion, Cinderella (which a couple of the characters have the incredible gall to allude to during some conversations), and The Happy Hooker in Hollywood. The story is outrageous fantasy, completely unbelievable, and one wouldn't wish a moment of it different. We sit watching the film and letting the clichés and conventionalisms bounce off of us, and we're happy about it! Pretty Woman is an extremely engaging and particularly satisfying romantic comedy.

Julia Roberts has a star-making leading role if there ever was one as Vivian Ward, intelligent Santa Monica Boulevard hooker, who's offered by millionaire business magnate Richard Gere a $3,000 salary to be his “business companion” for a week. During the whirlwind week the couple spends together (beginning as an occupational arrangement and ending in, what else, love), Roberts spends money extravagantly, learns much about her own genuine worth as an individual, and aids Gere in seeing the limits to his own ruthlessness. The film is glitzy, upbeat, very funny, and even more ingratiating. It has its own posh way of garnering the affection of the audience, and the director lets the picture waft ever so lightly through its predictable stream of jokes, lovemaking, and simple spats. Occasionally the script leaves us dangling for a second or two, but there isn't much to worry about in the never-never land pictured here.

Richard Gere has charisma to spare as business entrepreneur Edward Lewis. He shows us his romantic comedy talents, and they suit the nature of this piece admirably. Julia Roberts, though, is the one who raised some eyebrows with her work in this movie. Roberts is shrewdly charming, never sacrificing audience sympathy when she becomes a bit more assertive. Her work here brought her an Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe award and seriously installed her as America’s sweetheart for the rest of the decade. The two stars have practically the entire movie to themselves, but a couple of good supporting performers have a moment or two to shine. Tony Award-winner Jason Alexander goes a bit overboard as Gere's business attorney and erstwhile friend while Laura San Giacomo (who played memorably the adulterous sister in Sex, Lies and Videotape) adds another excellent performance to her personal roster as Roberts' best friend. In lesser roles, Hector Elizondo makes a delightfully thoughtful, low-key hotel manager (who aids Roberts in making her first purchase with a credit card), and Elinor Donahue brings momentary sparkle to the small role of a salesclerk who isn't Beverly Hills snobbish. Larry Miller as a fashion clerk desperate for sales steals one sequence as Gere and Roberts shop for clothes.

Pretty Woman isn't intellectual or deep. It's a fun (a bit longish) 119 minutes of pure, unadulterated corn that's quite delectable.


Video Quality

4/5

The film’s 1.85:1 theatrical aspect ratio is replicated in this 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. Sharpness is a non-issue, and the generally warm color saturation levels are sterling. Varying light levels seem to amp up or reduce the film’s grain structure, but the inconsistency isn’t a problem. Overall, it’s a very attractive high definition transfer without getting anywhere near reference level. The film has been divided into 19 chapters.

Audio Quality

3.5/5

An uncompressed PCM 5.1 (6.9 Mbps) audio mix is not the default audio track (the Dolby Digital 5.1 track is) but is surprisingly here for the selection. It is most welcome even if with this rather simple sound design it seems like overkill. The music is what occupies most of the surround channels with only an occasional crowd noise sometimes routed to the rears.

Special Features

2.5/5

Director Garry Marshall contributes a talkative audio commentary. Like many of his other audio tracks, Marshall tends to overly describe what we’re seeing on the screen though he does usually contribute some notable information about the filming, his work with the stars, and opinions about the material as he goes along, too.

All of the bonus featurettes are presented in 480i (with one exception), having been ported over from a previous DVD release of the movie.

There is a 2 ½ minute blooper reel.

“Live from the Wrap Party” is a 4-minute camcorder excerpt taped during the wrap party for the film with Richard Gere playing piano, Garry Marshall playing drums, and Julia Roberts doing some vocalizing. Only near the very end do they begin talking, and that’s when the video fades out.

“L.A.: The Pretty Woman Tour” offers director Garry Marshall leading the viewer on a guided tour of the various locations around Los Angeles where portions of the movie were filmed. This was produced in 2005, so Marshall comments about changes that have taken place in the fifteen years since the film was made. There are seven tour spots which the viewer can choose individually or choose the “play all” function and watch them in one 9 ¼-minute chunk. This is presented in 480p.

A production featurette filmed in 1990 is an EPK featurette for the movie, in effect a second trailer with very brief interviews with the stars and director. It runs for 3 ¾ minutes.

The music video of “Wild Women Do,” which mixes black and white music footage with color film clips, is included on the disc, performed by Natalie Cole and running 4 minutes.

The film’s original theatrical trailer runs for 2 ½ minutes.

1080p previews on the disc include Earth, Blindness, Miracle at St. Anna, and Lost - Season 4.

Included in the package is a $10 rebate certificate for this film which allows those who wish to trade up to the Blu-ray version to get a little money back.


In Conclusion

3.5/5 (not an average)

Pretty Woman is an entertaining romantic comedy, the film that made Julia Roberts a true movie star. Though the bonus features have been ported over from a previous DVD release with no increase in resolution, the Blu-ray presentation of the main feature is very good and for admirers of the film or its stars a worthwhile upgrade.


Matt Hough
Charlotte, NC