The 1990 romantic comedy, Pretty Woman, dazzled audiences from day one with Richard Gere's and Julia Roberts' chemistry and charm. The movie is nearing its thirtieth anniversary, and it's still widely considered a timeless classic.
Who doesn't love the scene in which Edward (Gere) shows up to Vivian's (Roberts) apartment, braving his fear of heights to rescue her, and for her to "rescue him right back"? It's an unconventional love story that we still love and adore to this day, but there are a few flaws that haven't aged well--10 of which we'll be covering here for your perusal.
10 The Blonde Wig
Vivian dons a short blonde wig with bangs in the film's opening to help pick up customers. It's part of a "look" she's going for. Honestly, the wig was over-the-top ridiculous. It doesn't suit Vivian, or Julia Roberts, for that matter. Vivian's big and curly red hair is far more suitable for her character, who's something of a loose cannon that gradually learns to be more conservative. To this day, the big curly hair suits her better, even if it's an '80s look.
9 Shoulder Pads
The movie was filmed in 1989 and released in 1990. The fact is, shoulder pads were all the rage back then. Obviously, that trend has long since faded out. It could come back, as many fashion trends seem to do, but until that day this is definitely among the things that haven't aged well in this film.
Too many shoulder pads. Vivian has several amazing outfits, granted, but we could do without the shoulder pads--honestly, where did that fad come from?
8 Kit De Luca
Remember Vivian's best friend and fellow prostitute, Kit (Laura San Giacomo)? Kit isn't really Vivian's best friend; it may seem like she's looking out for her but really, she's not. When we first meet Kit, Vivian's tracking her down to find out what happened to their rent money--money that Kit has spent to appease her obvious drug habit. Kit's risking homelessness for both of them. She's not the greatest friend in the world, even if she throws around a "take care of you" every here and there to show affection for her friend.
7 Edward's "Beck And Call"
In the movie's beginning, Edward's on the phone with his girlfriend, who's breaking up with him as she no longer wishes to be his "beck and call." She has a point; why be with someone when they only want to use you as arm candy when it's convenient for them? Before Vivian, Edward pretty much avoided any real relationships and used girls to make himself look good.
That's selfish, cold and somewhat manipulative, especially if he's playing with their feelings. Edward obviously changes in the movie, and considering his history, we're glad he did. Still, it doesn't erase his past, and the fact that before he fell for Vivian, he essentially treated her in the same manner.
6 The "Pantyhose" Joke
When Edward first brings Vivian into his fancy hotel, she's obviously uncomfortable and out of place. It's understandable, but she didn't have to be obnoxious. When she and Edward are about to enter the elevator, she notices an older couple watching them and holds out her leg, commenting loudly "Oh honey, you know what's happened? I've got a runner in my pantyhose. (Laugh) I'm not wearing pantyhose." She makes a scene by making fun of societal differences in their particular setting. It wasn't necessary, and at this point, it barely makes sense - wearing pantyhose is hardly something that every woman is expected to do!
5 Vivian's Shopping Spree
Every shopaholic's dream is to hit Rodeo Drive with credit cards that have no limit and an endless stream of cash. Vivian's got all the means and resources; still, the women in one of the stores refuse to help her or allow her to buy anything. They judge Vivian for her looks and her social status.
She is seen as scum compared to their pristine Beverly Hills standing. Social standing is certainly still alive and well today, and to some degree we've all experienced it. That's why we still don't like this aspect of the movie. Well, they made a BIG mistake.
4 Edward Ignoring The Hotel Manager
Edward has grown up privileged and he tends to forget about the little people, so to speak. The people that help him daily but he never offers them a "please" or "thank you" for their time and effort. Most notably for the hotel manager, Barney Thompson (Héctor Elizondo). Edward's been staying at the hotel for a long time and yet he never acknowledges Barney. It's sad and disrespectful, especially since Barney's the one that teaches Vivian so much about a world completely foreign to her and hooks her up with people who help her get a new wardrobe. It seems like Barney's a chameleon; he can adapt to any world because he's been there. He's worked hard, which is why he understands Vivian's struggle and helps her. He and Vivian are friends, but Edward never really does acknowledge him, which is why this is a sour point of the film.
3 It's All About Money
One of the prominent themes of Pretty Woman is how much money everyone has. Money they can throw away, which to most of the world is an unimaginable concept. Edward and his crowd are snobby, entitled and look down upon anyone not in their social class. It's why Vivian has to hide who she is in front of them, it's why she's refused service on Rodeo Drive and it's why she eventually refuses to accept money from Edward.
It's a world you can get sucked into fast and lose yourself even faster. Life isn't all about money; it's about love, family and various other things. It's not the best message in the movie--especially if it means that people will only care about you based on how good you look or how much money you make. Edward seems to learn there's more to life, but he doesn't exactly leave that world, or his principles with it, behind.
2 Phillip's Rape Attempt
Devastated that Edward has ruined a business deal, his lawyer, Phillip Stuckey (Jason Alexander), shows up to Edward's hotel room to take it out on him, only to find Vivian there, alone. Edward made the mistake of telling Phillip who Vivian really is, so Phillip in that moment attempts to take advantage of her. This was risky to include in a romantic comedy, and rape and sexual harassment are obviously not funny. Hence, it's still an aspect many of us don't care for in Pretty Woman.
1 The Portrayal Of Sex Workers
While it's actually surprisingly modern to see a positive and humanizing portrayal of a sex worker, but unfortunately, it's far from ideal. Vivian is held up as an exception to the rule, where the rest of her friends and colleagues seem to be aggressive drug addicts and the worst stereotypes of prostitutes. Vivian herself, meanwhile, is 'rescued' from her profession by a rich man - a narrative that is problematic in how it suggests that sex work can only be one of two things - a hideous, drug-fueled nightmare, or a magical way to meet a billionaire and be treated like a princess. Somehow, it both glamorizes and stereotypes sex workers, all at the same time.