This year marks the 25th anniversary of the hit film “Pretty Woman.” I know this only because I read it somewhere online; I’ve never seen the movie, which has made nearly $500 million since its release in 1990.
I’ve never seen it because I don’t get the concept.
I’ve seen most of Julia Roberts’ movies. She’s a talented actress.
But a romantic comedy about a prostitute?
I don’t get it.
Being a hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold seems to be the way to go for women who want a career boost in Hollywood.
And that, I suppose, is my problem with it.
Though there were snide insinuations that she won only because she was deathly ill, Elizabeth Taylor won an Oscar in 1960 for playing a pill-addicted call girl in the drama “Butterfield 8.”
Jane Fonda’s searing 1971 performance as a prostitute trying to outwit a murderer in the grimy crime thriller “Klute” earned her an Academy Award, too.
To their defense, these movies didn’t glamorize what we know to be an extremely dangerous “profession.”
Which brings me back to “Pretty Woman.” Roberts went on to star in a number of great roles, including an Oscar-winning turn in the biographical drama “Erin Brokovich,” which, ironically, was the story of a woman not afraid to use her sex appeal to get what she wanted.
Roberts herself has since become a middle-aged, married mom of three, yet she still is tagged as “Pretty Woman,” which suggests that in Hollywood, her image at 23 still outweighs her talent at 48.
Look, we all have fantasies of coloring outside the lines. We root for movie mobsters and cowboy outlaws.
It’s why we go to the movies.
We love underdogs, rule breakers and troublemakers. We would thumb our noses, too, if only we had the nerve.
And who wouldn’t root for Roberts, especially when her “Pretty Woman” character was more honest, sympathetic and likable than the so-called “decent” people?
And who wouldn’t want to be rescued by Richard Gere?
But I can’t shake my discomfort with a film that makes light of and diminishes the risks of such a life, then papers it over with a happy-ever-after ending.
An ending worth $500 million.
Hollywood wouldn’t have it any other way.