January 18, 2000 at 05:00 AM EST

Try as they might to stretch creatively, some actors and directors are better off sticking to what they know — which is what makes this ”Pretty Woman” reunion (Roberts, Gere, director Garry Marshall, and costar Hector Elizondo) predictably pleasurable. No stranger to highly publicized failed romances, Roberts makes a natural Runaway Bride — Maggie Carpenter, a small-town serial bride whose exploits pique the interest of cynical New York columnist Ike Graham (Gere). Quaint characters, breezy banter, sumptuous pastoral setting, conflicts (too) tidily resolved — it’s a comfort rental.

Reel Goodies Fiction blurs with reality when Maggie/Julia rips into journalist Ike, who ”criticize[s] what [others] do because you’re too afraid to do anything yourself.” The Last Detail Costume designer Albert Wolsky made four of the film’s five wedding gowns but found Maggie’s final dress on the rack at Saks Fifth Avenue.

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