Every cliché has at least one perfect example: An ‘Exhibit A’ that makes the hidden good side of the cliché come to light and makes the jaded, tired old story new again. For the tale of the hooker with the heart of gold, the perfect example is Petty Woman.
You have a dapper, somewhat older wealthy man (Richard Gere), a surprisingly attractive prostitute (Julia Roberts), a toadie type (Jason Alexander) bent on breaking up the high roller and his lady of the night, and the kindly gent (Hector Elizondo) who teaches the trailer trash how to hang with the upper crust.
Pretty Woman is just as much a fairy tale as ever… executed just perfectly enough to make your mouth water. It’s candy for your brain.
It may be pure saccharine, not to mention totally unrealistic, but Pretty Woman does it with such style and grace you hardly notice its flaws. Gere and Roberts drip a dapper chemistry, Roberts oozes a saucy spunk, and Gere actually pulls off being both an effective lovesick pretty boy and a cutthroat quick-buck businessman who learns the value of the long-term investment. Elizondo plays the My Fair Lady game as solid as I’ve ever seen, and Alexander plays the soulless jerk as only he can.
With a great cast and a solid screenplay, the film has held the test of time and has finally become what all the lovesick teens said it was all along: a classic.