No doubt those who were watching TV during the months of May, June and July were smacked over the head repeatedly with advertisements for The Proposal. The genuinely witty (in appearance) comedy starring Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds was backed up by some genuinely funny trailers, filled with quips, jokes and one liners that were easy to laugh at. As far as critics were concerned they shoved the film in the “predictable romantic comedy” category; as far as movie goers were concerned, however, they helped the $40 million budgeted film balloon to nearly $300 million worldwide in box office receipts. While critical reception can often have ill effects on a films box office performance…in the case of romantic comedies there’s almost always an audience, no matter how predictable they may be.
Margaret Tate (Sandra Bullock) terrorizes her publishing house co-workers with her abrasive, take-no-prisoners management style, especially her overworked assistant Andrew Paxton (Ryan Reynolds). But when Margaret is threatened with deportation to her native Canada because of an immigration technicality, the quick-thinking exec announces that she and Andrew are engaged to be married. Ambitious Andrew agrees to go along with her scheme—if there’s a long-awaited promotion in it for him. Everything is going according to Margaret’s plan, until an overzealous immigration official makes it his business to prove that the couple’s engagement is bogus. To demonstrate her commitment to her new fiancé, Margaret agrees to celebrate the 90th birthday of his colorful grandmother (Betty White) — in Alaska. The editrix’s type-A ways put her at odds with her eccentric future in-laws with hilarious consequences, until the Paxton’s teach Margaret a thing or two about family.
Watching The Proposal wasn’t a particularly arduous experience. While most of the good bits were predictably shown in the trailers, there were still plenty in the film to laugh at. And while, as I previously stated in the intro, the film was relentlessly predictable in its structure and pacing…it really didn’t harm it any in the long run. I didn’t expect anything incredibly unique or original out of this film and what I ended up with was a generic romantic comedy that effortlessly entertained the viewer.
It didn’t hurt, of course, that Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock had some solid chemistry. Nor did it hurt that both were fine actors. On top of that even the supporting cast was solid, with the likes of Mary Steenburgen, Craig T. Nelson, Malin Akerman, Oscar Nuñez, Aasif Mandvi, and Betty White rounding out the cast. Betty White should get an especially profound mention as she pretty much stole every single scene she was in—whether it was with her sometimes vulgar outbursts or her rather dark ploy at the end to get the title characters back in the same room.
Having said that the only times I felt the film was weak was when Bullock was on screen delivering some wildly important plot point. This wasn’t always the case and wasn’t a reflection on her acting abilities so much as it was just the way her character was written. The moment that stands out as one of the strangest in the film was her early morning call that ended in a hawk trying to take away the family pet. As if this wasn’t a strange enough scenario, the hawk eventually grabs her cell phone instead of the dog. While this creates the necessary disconnect from the outside world that she needs to fall in love with Reynolds character the whole way it is executed just felt…strange.
But honestly? Minor quibbles. The flaws with this film have more to do with the contrite conveniences that come with the genre more than anything. Whenever the film succeeds at something, it does it extraordinarily well and it’s often those moments that it’s trying out something original. For instance, the revelation sequence where she reveals that she’s married and the resulting look on Reynolds’s characters face pretty much sells the whole concept of the movie to the viewer right then and there. Then there are the individual moments where Bullock connects with individuals of Reynolds’s family and past friends that supply Bullock’s character with some much needed humanity.
Overall this film is plagued with romantic comedy clichés, but they’re there for a reason: they’re what the audience wants. The audience wants the awkward scenario to work out, but not before an expected split-up and eventual re-pairing. It’s monotonous in setup, but it still works to this day. It’s hard to mess with a formula that brings in massive box office receipts like this one did, after all. Pretty much the only reason to go see a romantic comedy is because of those involved in it and Bullock and Reynolds make for one of the strongest on-screen pairings in quite a long time. Recommended.
Be forewarned: don’t let the fancy two-disc edition packaging for the DVD edition fool you. The same extras are contained on the single disc, you just don’t get the second digital copy-only disc. So unless you’re hankering to watch this movie on your iPod…then don’t bother with the two-disc. In terms of video the presentation here the film arrives in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio that looks nice and solid. I’m used to watching Blu-ray’s at this point, but the quality of this film was pretty top notch. Solid color levels, nice detail and overall nothing that really jumped out as being ugly. The DD5.1 mix was mostly quiet in the surrounds except for the big gatherings in the film (and the Nuñez strip sequence had some bass to it as well).
Extras for the film include:
• Set Antics: Outtakes and Other Absurdities From The Proposal — Bloopers and light moments on set with the cast and crew of The Proposal (6:33)
• Deleted Scenes – Two deleted scenes with optional Commentary by Director Anne Fletcher and Writer Peter Chiarelli (2:15)
• Audio Commentary by director Anne Fletcher and writer Peter Chiarelli
• Alternate Ending with optional Commentary by Director Anne Fletcher and Writer Peter Chiarelli (6:33)
As you can see the extras aren’t exactly plentiful…but they’re adequate. The deleted scenes and alternate ending are pretty throw-away (the alternate ending was particularly bad…like, really, really bad), but the audio commentary is worth a listen if you enjoyed the film. Mainly just talk about alternate shots or elements of the story that were removed and changed around, but a solid track nonetheless.
Overall The Proposal is a solid effort on DVD and worth a Rental. If you’re a fan of the romantic comedy genre, however, then it comes Recommended has it definitely has a lot of playability since it’s such an easy to watch film. Just remember not to bother with the two-disc unless you want the digital copy for some reason.
The Proposal arrives on single and two-disc DVD and two-disc Blu-ray on October 13th.