Want to feel old? Pretty Woman is 25 this year. I’ve seen that posted everywhere lately, and recently Today had most of the cast gathered for a reunion interview. I find it curious, this recent trend of celebrating landmark anniversaries in pop culture, and I wonder about the criteria involved in choosing which film or album gets all the attention and anniversary cake.
I recall last year browsing sites and discovering a 25th anniversary fete to Troop Beverly Hills, and I thought Why? Why celebrate a forgettable comedy that probably left Shelley Long regretting her departure from Cheers? This was a movie I watched more than once when it cycled through HBO’s schedule in the early 90s but otherwise forgot as time passed. Most movies are like that to me. I might have enjoyed them during their initial run and rented them at Blockbuster shortly afterward to experience the films with family. Beyond that, however, I rarely drop everything when Jim Belushi’s K-9 or Andie McDowell’s Green Card comes on TV.
I may be in the minority here, but Pretty Woman would fall under the same category. Don’t get me wrong, I saw the movie in theaters and liked it for what it was. It’s not a movie I’d watch over and again, or own on Blu-Ray. Between 1989 and 1994 I went to the movies often – they were affordable and I had the disposable income to burn since I still lived at home. I probably saw more films in the theater in this point in time than in my whole life. This period may not represent a classic age in cinema, but there are a few gems I’d like to celebrate as they turn 25, two in particular.
We remember Pretty Woman because it was Julia Roberts’s breakthrough as a leading lady. She got a Best Actress nomination, but you know who won that year? Kathy Bates, for Misery:
She earned it, too. Bates embodied the perfect blend of nurturer and psycho. Writers who dream of mammoth sales and contracts may imagine the joy of receiving fan mail with regularity, and a movie like this convinces you maybe it’s okay to fly under the radar and achieve fame after you’ve died in bed after a long, productive life. After the shock wears off, you open your laptop and a word processing program and start the next story, and the next daydream.
Pretty Woman had two leads, but often relied on an ensemble to progress. By contrast, two people alone carried most of Misery. You could have reduced or eliminated the roles of the sheriff, his wife, and Paul’s agent and still had a great film.
Misery was my first Stephen King film, and shortly afterward my first King novel, which I read on a twelve-hour drive from Jacksonville to Louisville. It’s still the only King film I’d pause life for if it came on TV, and I say this as a Kubrick fan. Sorry, Jack.
The second film, also 25 this year, is Postcards From the Edge. While it’s not about a writer, it’s written by Carrie Fisher, adapted from her novel. Fisher as a novelist is one of my greatest influences, so you can blame her every time I publish something.
The book is way different and includes a writer character whose subplot is completely excised from the movie. Nonetheless, Postcards was funny and dark and presents Carrie’s brilliance in peak form. Everybody has issues with job and family, but when you see what Suzanne Vale goes through here you waver between relief that it’s not your life, or envy because it isn’t.
At the risk of incurring the wrath of the Internet, I’m more likely to remember Misery and Postcards with fondness as they turn silver. Next year, though, The Silence of The Lambs turns 25. That’ll be a party.
Images via Tumblr