It's hard to get heated up about ``Pretty Woman.' It's not awful. But it's not very good, either. Call it somewhere between. Pretty mediocre, maybe.
Richard Gere is slightly miscast as a young business tycoon fashioned in the ``Wall Street' mold but with slightly more charm. The gray is beginning to show in Gere's hair, which, along with the required natty three-piece business suit, makes him slightly irresistible to young and vulnerable members of the opposite sex.Enter lithe, long-legged Julia Roberts, a slightly kooky streetwalker who bumps into Gere on Hollywood Boulevard one evening when he stops at the curb inquiring for directions on how to get back to a slightly more civilized part of Los Angeles.
She offers to help, for a price. When the deal is made, she hops into the car and accompanies Gere back to his apartment.
For some reason - the Cheshire grin on Gere's face is supposed to suggest a more complex motive - he invites her to stay the night. But only for conversation. The price is good, the condition acceptable. She agrees.
The next morning, he makes her a strictly business proposition. For a specified sum and an entire new wardrobe, she'll be his companion for the following week.
You can see the romantic complications coming a mile off. She falls for him, but he's reluctant to see her as anything other than a business deal. Her feelings are hurt when, at a posh polo match, he casually mentions her real occupation. His sleazy lawyer (Jason Alexander) picks up on the news and makes a pass at her. She assumes Gere intends to share her with his associates.
That's about as heavy as things get. This is, after all, supposed to be a comedy.
The bits of funny buiness are also predictable. See Roberts lolling about in a bubble bath in Gere's spacious penthouse apartment. See her invade ritzy Rodeo Drive on a shopping spree. See her mishandling escargots at a fancy restaurant. See her . . . but if you've seen the previews of ``Pretty Woman' on television, you've already seen all the funny stuff.
There's not much left. Roberts gets to wear a series of revealing costumes. Except for one brief scene of the two stars in an oversized bathtub, Gere keeps his business suit neatly buttoned. At the conclusion of the one obligatory shower scene, he immediately and modestly dons a voluminous bathrobe.
Most of the film time is spent on the two stars.
As Roberts' roommate, Laura San Giacomo (``sex, lies, and videotape') appears in only a few scenes. Too bad. More of her would have definitely improved things. Veteran Ralph Bellamy is a shipping magnate whose firm is on Gere's most wanted list. He, too, unfortunately has little to do.
Director Garry Marshall (``Beaches') has had a lot of experience with television sitcoms. One of the major things missing in ``Pretty Woman' is a laugh track.