The Proposal (Blu-ray)
Directed by Anne Fletcher
It has all the trappings of the standard rom-com but, thanks to Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock, The Proposal is still worth accepting.
It Takes Two
Part of The Proposal goes to the dogs.
The loving couple: Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock.
Photos: Touchstone Pictures
"It's a tale as old as time, as true as it can be. Barely even friends, then somebody bends."
Oh, wait. In this case, Beauty is the Beast and takes the form of a high-strung book editor named Margaret Tate (Sandra Bullock, Miss Congeniality). Following the shtick of The Devil Wears Prada, Margaret's life is kept on track by her overly-dedicated male secretary... oops, executive assistant, Andrew Paxton (Ryan Reynolds, X-Men Origins: Wolverine), who covers all the bases for her, including Tampax runs.
He knows all her peculiarities and he knows that big-chain fancy-shmancy coffee product better be ready for her when she arrives. Co-workers instant message each other regarding Margaret's whereabouts and temperament; she is, after all, the type of woman who eats children while they dream. Yadda yadda yadda.
Well, little did Andrew know when he took the job 3 years earlier that he'd become her fiancé in the blink of an eye thanks to a slight immigration snag. With the threat of deportation to Canada looming and, thereby, the demise of her career, Margaret hitches her wagon to Andrew's U.S. citizenship and a not-so-veiled threat of ruining his career should he refuse.
Naturally, for this Alaskan kid with dreams of "touching the lives of millions through the written word," he can't say "no," never mind the legalities of sexual harassment. And, to think, every day his family back home had encouraged him to quit on the bitch.
The Art of Chemistry
It's easy to say The Proposal could've been much more. Freshman screenwriter Pete Chiarelli sticks to the tried and true formulas of the romantic comedy rather than venturing into more adventurous territory.
The possibilities are there. Margaret, perfectly played by Bullock, is a nasty, mean-spirited monster who's almost literally a motherless child; both of her parents are dead and she has no siblings. As it turns out, Andrew was born of good stock (namely Mary Steenburgen and Craig T. Nelson) and there's a whole Paxton empire back in Sitka, Alaska. Margaret even dubs him an "Alaskan Kennedy." On top of it all, Andrew left behind his high school sweetheart, Gertrude (Malin Akerman, Watchmen), in order to pursue his big city dreams.
Why couldn't there be more tension between this interesting ménage à trois and cross-country culture clash? Why the standard, predictable ending? Well, Chiarelli and director Anne Fletcher (27 Dresses) would rather dither around with klutzy, silly scenes involving an eagle, a dog and a cell phone than pierce the envelope of safe rom-com fare.
As it stands, The Proposal is worth watching simply to take in the entertaining sniping between Bullock and Reynolds, who exhibit a great chemistry together. Both are equally likeable; it's fun to see Bullock play a funny meanie/Canadian and Reynolds is in the fine comedic form he displayed way back during his TV days on Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place.
It's typical, but entertaining nonetheless.
Considering the movie's overwhelming success, pushing close to $300 million at the global box office, this is a disappointingly standard, run-of-the-mill release, particularly in terms of supplements.
There's an alternate ending (5 minutes) and three deleted scenes (6 minutes total), each supplied with an optional commentary from director Fletcher and screenwriter Chiarelli.
Of the deleted scenes, the best focuses on Andrew and Gertrude. Ryan Reynolds does a Christopher Walken impression and it works as a good scene of character development and potential expansion on Andrew's choices: the evil Canadian Margaret or the sweet-as-American-pie Gertrude. But, according to Fletcher and Chiarelli, the scene was cut because it didn't "service the story." The other two don't add much to the mix.
As for the alternate ending, it's pretty forced and lame. The raw footage presentation, complete with green screens and cranes, was correctly deemed "too sweet" and not funny enough. Interestingly enough, Fletcher and Chiarelli acknowledge the constraints of the writers strike played a role in the development of the movie's conclusion. Ah. Art and commerce. What a fine mix.
Also on tap is a ditty called Set Antics, Outtakes and Other Absurdities from The Proposal. It's a 6-minute collection of miscellaneous footage that garners a smile and a chuckle, but not much more.
There's also a running commentary on the feature film. Fletcher and Chiarelli cannot be faulted for having a lack of things to say; it's wall-to-wall chatter. Unfortunately, the majority of their chatter doesn't matter and they tend to be a bit grating. For one thing, it's slightly depressing Fletcher doesn't understand why the dog "tested" poorly with audiences. It is interesting, however, to glean how Hollywood throws money around. A real house, that looks like a set, is covered over with interior designs to protect the owners' real furnishings. And an entire floor of real office space is ultimately rebuilt in Hollywood as a set for some final reshoots. No wonder it now costs tens of millions to film even a rom-com – and that's before throwing in Sandra Bullock's salary. At least they acknowledge their commentary was "not great" at the end.
The set's second disc sports a downloadable digital copy of the movie for use on portable devices.
There's an extra deleted scene on the Blu-ray, but without cracking open the "deluxe" DVD edition, it's not possible to say which one, specifically, of the Blu-ray's three deleted scenes is the coveted exclusive clip. Regardless, even if it is the best of the bunch, it's about as cheap as a high-def exclusive can get.
Picture and Sound
For a brand-new flick, there’s something not quite right about the image quality at times. Most likely it has to do with the film image itself. There's an odd use of computer enhancement, particularly to create some of the scenery in Alaska, that makes a number of scenes, even though shot on location, look like they were shot on a studio set. It's a tad distracting but, once again, it probably has less to do with the Blu-ray disc quality as with the movie’s post-production processing. Aside from those scatter-shot scenes, the movie, presented in 2.35:1, looks fine, if not stellar.
As for the audio, it's fine enough. The formulaic collection of pop tunes sounds fine, otherwise this isn't the type of material to boast as a demo disc even with the high-profile specs of a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. French and Spanish options are available in 5.1 Dolby Digital.
Subtitles, as indicated on the jacket, are available in English for the Hearing Impaired, French and Spanish, but Portuguese, Bahasa, Malay and three other languages of Asian/non-Latin origin are also available.
How to Use This Disc
Accept The Proposal. Decline the supplements.
• Originally published at MovieHabit.com.