US Rating: PG-13 For Sexual Content, Nudity and Content
Film Length: 108 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 – Enhanced for Widescreen TVs
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound, French and Spanish Language Tracks
Subtitles: French and Spanish
Release Date: October 13, 2009
Review Date: October 11, 2009
Margaret Tate: What am I allergic to?
Andrew Paxton: Pine nuts, and the full spectrum of human emotion.
The Film: 4 out of 5
I have said this before, but Romantic-Comedies are not about the ‘what’, but the ‘how’. The ‘what’, in 99.99% of these films, is an absolute forgone conclusion; and so it is left up to the ‘how’ to distinguish the wheat from the chaff, the delicious from the dull, and the terrific from the terrible. The spectrum of quality for films where romance and comedy are wrung from the same premise is littered with a thousand takes on the genre that run the gamut from incredible (Notting Hill, When Harry Met Sally), to the insidiously bad (Failure To Launch, Picture Perfect). The rise, fall, and rise again of two people entwined in an errand of lovers fate is as predictable as the rising of the sun, but finding something truly unique about the journey is where the true challenge lies.
In the surprising hit of 2009 (over $163MM at the domestic box office), The Proposal enjoys a reversal of gender roles from the traditional concept and does well within the parameters of its set up. Margaret Tate is a cold, career driven Editor at a prestigious publishing firm. Andrew Paxton is her subservient assistant at her beck and call. The authoritative, mean, and unfeeling Tate is despised throughout the department she runs, and though her assistant, Paxton, tolerates her selfish and sardonic ways, he too despises her.
When Tate is called into her bosses office and informed that since she is a Canadian citizen who did not fill out all the required paperwork, nor follow all of the immigration rules, she is to be deported, thus losing her job, she must take drastic action. As her assistant interrupts (as he was instructed to by Tate herself), she capitalizes on the moment and informs her leaders that she and Paxton are in fact engaged to be married, giving her the ability to stay in the U.S. and keep her job. Paxton reluctantly agrees to the charade, and the premise is set. Tate and Paxton must now head to Alaska for his grandma’s 90th birthday celebration, and announce the surprise engagement (to a family that has heard nothing but grumbles and groans about the mean-spirited woman). As if this were not bad enough, a sniveling immigration officer, certain of their fraud, is hot on their heels and ready to catch them in their lie, sending him to jail and her back to her country.
The Proposal deserves the box office success it experienced. Far from being original, it handles its comedy adroitly, and shows off some terrifically funny dialogue in the hands of Ryan Reynolds. Walking firmly as classic romantic-comedy fare, it handily merges slices of silly, sardonic, and subterfuge (all rom-coms are built on at least one big lie), delivering laughter from lies, and sweetness from the softer-side of the two leads who spend most of the film at odds with each other.
Sandra Bullock plays Margaret Tate and Ryan Reynolds plays Andrew Paxton – and the two of them are thoroughly enjoyable in their roles. Bullock, playing less the goof, and more the self-serving and heartless corporate snake, cedes the clumsy character more to Reynolds, and in doing so, takes her character from ruthless to ‘revealed’ through the story with experience and ease. Reynolds, on the other hand, demonstrates his acute comic timing to deliver the films many verbal high-points. Armed with some juicy lines, he is at the center of the film’s very best scenes and is certainly on his way to even greater things.
The rest of the cast is good, with Betty White, as Paxton’s grandma, solidifying her strength as the old lady who will say just about anything, and Craig T. Nelson and Mary Steenburgen as Paxton’s parents, who are expectedly loving, oblivious, and obstacle enough to define additional drama in the proceedings.
While not every antic works, (the eagle/dog scene exemplifies the ill-fitting buffoonery that pulls down the accomplishment of fine performances and sharp script), overall The Proposal is much better than the vast majority of other romantic comedies that have come our way recently, and is for me, a bit of a guilty pleasure.
The Video: 3.5 out of 5
Touchstone Home Entertainment gets down on one knee to deliver The Proposal with just an average looking disc. With its original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 intact, the overall image turns out not to be the sharpest or the most vibrant color-wise that we could have expected. Visually, colors don’t seem to be important, and as a result, the whites aren’t bright, the browns aren’t bold, the blues aren’t vivid, and the greens not inviting. It’s all rather average. The amount of detail in the image is also lacking, and most will find this standard DVD release average all the way.
The Sound: 3.5 out of 5
The available Dolby Digital 5.1 surround audio does right by the film, carrying sweeping strings to aide emotional revelations within the characters (and nudge empathy and sympathy from within the audience), ably across the front speakers, and even in the surrounds when the moment calls for it. There are no issues with dialogue which is concentrated in the center channel, and all in all, with several music numbers that are expressed heavily in the bass (Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s ‘Relax” gets a good work out, provocatively accompanied by The Office’s Oscar Nuñez) the audio suits what we see well.
The Extras: 3 out of 4
Alternate Ending – With Optional Commentary by Director Anne Fletcher and Writer Peter Chiarelli (6:33): I recommend watching with the optional commentary as they describe the reason for the change in endings.
Deleted Scenes - With Optional Commentary by Director Anne Fletcher and Writer Peter Chiarelli (2:14): Two deleted scenes that would not have added, or taken anything away from the final cut.
Set Antics: Outtakes and Other Absurdities from The Proposal (6:32): Silliness on set, line-flubs and more crammed into these six-and-a-half minutes.
Feature Audio Commentary with Director Anne Fletcher and Writer Peter Chiarelli: For big fans of the film only, this commentary is interesting at times, but rarely revealing.
Disc 2 – Digital Copy: Download a copy of the movie to you portable device, or your computer.
Final ThoughtsSadly, movies made by woman are entirely too rare. The Proposal is a great case for handing over the reins far more often since this film was a financial hit, was critically well-received, and is imbued with genuine fun. Director Ann Fletcher has created a sweet and silly film that delivers the romance well without skimping on the comedy. It earns its sweet moments, and by the time we reach the inevitable ‘what’, we find that we have thoroughly enjoyed the ‘how’. This is not the kind of film that often earns a second viewing from me, but I foresee a valentine’s night with a home cooked meal followed by Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock hating each other until they fall in love. So, this one is recommended as a perfect date night movie that won’t disappoint.
Overall Score 3.5 out of 5