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Leave The World Behind and Pretty Woman is the Netflix double feature we didn't know we needed

We got whiplash from the tonal shift between the two movies, but it was worth it

Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman
Image credit: Tombstone Pictures

You can learn a lot about people’s viewing habits by checking out the weekly Netflix rankings. Sure, we expect to see a surge in horror film viewing around Halloween and a deluge of Christmas content in December, but sometimes people surprise us. For example: we weren’t surprised to see Leave the World Behind still in the top ten films on Netflix, but the sudden appearance of Pretty Woman close behind it did catch us off-guard.

That unexpected one-two punch sent us scouring for a reason. Was a new sequel announced? Is it an anniversary we had missed? Aside from both starring Julia Roberts, there is nothing to connect the two films. That means that, all around the world, people are watching Leave the World Behind – which is on pace to become one of Netflix’s biggest hits of the year – and chasing it with Pretty Woman, one of the movies that made Roberts a star.

Honestly, as strange as the combination seems on paper, we get it. Leave the World Behind is a dark, depressing story about the end of the world, so if Netflix suggested an iconic romantic comedy as the credits roll, we’d click on it too. While her latest film shows how serious and grim Roberts can get, Pretty Woman only works because she is intensely charming and playful; without it, it's just a movie about a rich man taking advantage of a sex worker. Together, the two movies show her remarkable range while potentially giving viewers whiplash from the monumental tonal shift.

So if you’re one of the many people who had a Julia Roberts double-feature in the last week of 2023, we see you and we understand. Sometimes you need a playful palette cleanser after watching the end of the world, after all.

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