Pretty Woman is a romantic comedy and is a modern-day allegory of George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion, with the rich and successful benefactor taking the naive, girl from the wrong side of the tracks and turning her into a lady, falling in love with her as he does so. Although one of the characters also calls this a Cinderella story, Vivienne, the main female character, is certainly more Eliza Doolittle than Cinderella.
Pretty Woman follows two main characters as they both undergo transfoations as a result of meeting the other; Vivienne, a prostitute on the seedy streets of Hollywood is transformed into the young lady she was always meant to be, travelling through the social minefield of Los Angeles society for a week as Edward Lewis's companion. Edward, a hard-nosed venture capitalist whose greatest skill is breaking companies into pieces and selling them for a gigantic profit, is softened by Vivienne who teaches him the importance of people in business and essentially warming his cold heart with her sweetness and good heart. It is a movie with a happy ending, perpetuating the dream of happily ever after that we are all seeking and want desperately to believe in.
Pretty Woman was the movie that also transformed the career of its leading lady, Julia Roberts, whose touching and genuine performance catapulted her onto the A List and cemented her as one of the most popular actresses of our time.