Saturday, March 22, 2014

Another Point of Personal Privilege: Nitpicking "Pretty Woman"

Back in my salad days (no, I don't know what that means either- I just know it's used in situations like this, so there you go) I used to manage a video store in downtown DC.  It was a fun job (when I wasn't being robbed at gunpoint, which happened twice- you get used to it) in which I got to watch a lot of good movies and (it being the 80s) even more really bad ones.  For every E.T. and The Verdict there were many, many more Look Who's Talkings and Police Academy flicks.  But hey, it was a job which involved watching movies, and it paid my way through Graduate School.  So no complaints here.

Pretty Woman was one of the biggest hits of 1990, my last full year working in the video rental business.   It is also one of the most ludicrous, disgusting piles of maggot dung ever assembled by Hollywood.  I could write many pages about how it basically plays out the Beautiful Clean Hooker fantasy which had already been hashed out in countless movies and television shows long before this putrid mess hit the big screen (I don't need to remind anyone my age that Brooke Shields, Phoebe Cates, and Jane Seymour- possibly the three most stunning women of the generation- all played prostitutes at one point in their careers.)  Instead, I'd like to just skip all that and take a moment to just laugh at one scene which always really bugged the hell out of me.

When Julia Roberts' prostitute character meets Richard Gere's businessman character, he's driving a Lotus and looking for directions back to his hotel.  Gere hires Roberts to get him there, and then strikes a deal for her to come up to his penthouse suite for what she figures will be a quick, lucrative toss in the hay.

So she gets to his room, which is of course massive and lavishly furnished.  Gere orders champagne and strawberries, but instead of realizing that this guy could be an easy mark and clearly has money to burn, Richards acts as if she's kind of anxious to get out of there (wait, this makes sense compared to what happens next.)  Gere then suggests that to ease her mind about all the opportunities to get screwed by other total strangers she may be missing out on, he just pays her to stay the night.  And here's where it get really stupid.

Roberts replies "The whole night?  You couldn't afford it."

Um, seriously?  Lotus-driving, penthouse-dwelling, champagne-and-strawberries ordering businessman "couldn't afford" a hooker for the evening?  You don't want to think this over before making that statement, Julia?  Not even for a moment?

Guess not, because when Gere insists that she name her price, she replies "Three hundred dollars."  Which he accepts, instantly (no duh.  I seriously can't believe he doesn't burst out laughing- or begins to wonder if this woman has a problem she's not telling him about.)  Three hundred dollars? For an entire night?  What did Roberts' character usually charge for her normal hour or so?  $20 and car fare back to the alley?

And Gere's quick acceptance doesn't teach her a thing about negotiating- the next day, he asks how much she'd charge for entire week, and she comes up with the figure $3000.  Jeeeeeeshh......for the 1990 version of Julia Roberts?  Come on.....who wrote this dialogue?  At LEAST add a zero to that figure, PLEASE.  I know it's 1990, but give me a break.

By the way, did you know that the original ending for this flick had Gere dumping a devastated, sobbing Roberts- who goes right back to being a prostitute?  Proving that, briefly, the writers intended to infuse a LITTLE reality.  Maybe they should have stuck with it- because "rich guy buys beautiful woman on the cheap" should never be the "feel good romance of the year," ever.  Not even in 1990.

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