Proposal, The (US - BD RA)
Gabe would marry his DVDActive bosses for a chance to live in the UK
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 Paxtons teach Margaret a thing or two about family.
The Proposal is a nice, warm plate of steaming comfort food for those of us that aren’t feeling like thinking too hard or dealing with conflicting emotions. It’s not my brand of comfort food, but I recognize the meal, and respect it for what it is. The Proposal, which is not to be confused with the ten other movies featuring that title on imdb, or John Hillcoat’s gritty Aussie set western The Proposition, fulfills the formulaic needs of a modern romantic comedy without pulling out any surprising stops or inverting any of the stone-set clichés. The characters and plot are about as involving as the average episode of the average American sit-com, stopping short of a laugh track, and shooting in gorgeous 2.35 anamorphic widescreen to ensure some kind of tangible separation between the theater and the television. It’s comfort food, and it’s fully of empty calories, but it’s good enough at what it does that I can’t muster the effort to get mad at the film.
Ryan Reynolds is the X-Factor here. Reynolds’ unstoppable charm was enough to make his scenes in Wolverine and Blade Trinity enjoyable, and a more consistent presence is likely enough to interest even vehement haters of the rom-com formula. I’m actually assuming he was hired to make it easier for young ladies to force their boyfriends into attending a showing. The guy delivers just enough sarcastic wit to keep things moving at brisk pace, and he has genuine chemistry with Bullock, who does her usual cold fish/total social misfit bit. Bullock has taken some chances over the years, but she always returns to this kind of unimaginative stuff to act as another awkward and unlikely love interest. The basics of The Proposal, Miss Congeniality, 28 Days and While You Were Sleeping are pretty darn interchangeable. Her clear talents as a physical comedian are entertaining enough to give the actress props for the character, as literally throwing herself into the role. The supporting cast is also hired for their more apparent talents and popularity, but should please the comfort food gorgers.
The Proposal is shot like most modern comedies – brightly, colourfully, and softly. The Blu-ray doesn’t have a whole lot to offer in terms of super-sharp details thanks to this warm fuzzy style, but it’s enough to help notice the dry hands on Reynolds during those make-out scenes. The softer and diffused lighting doesn’t lead to many harsh contrasts, there aren’t any notable extreme close-ups (or even close-ups for that matter), and the depth of field is extremely shallow (the way in which the focal points verge on falling out of focus is almost fascinating). Sharp details just aren’t happening. The Blu-ray does have a noticeable advantage in the brightness and fullness of the candy coated primary hues, which are sharply separated when required, and evenly gradated otherwise, with little to no compression. The print is also incredibly clean, featuring almost no noticeable digital noise or even grain.
The audio on the disc matches the video for effort. Stylistically speaking the audio mix keeps things simple, and doesn’t weigh itself down with a lot of multi-channel sound or directional effects. This isn’t to say the DTS-HD track is without purpose, as subtler surround work, such as chirping birds, chatting commuters and beeping cars. Early in the film there’s a fun moment where the blip of instant messaging flutters through the office set. The dialogue is natural for the most part, but in the name of clarity the overall volume level of ‘important’ dialogue is a bit too consistent to be ‘real’. Tyler Perry’s favourite composer Aaron Zigman’s score is pretty insulting, despite Fletcher’s good-natured insistence that he’s subtle. The music either overstates comedy with disapproving clarinet and tempoed plucking, overstates drama with mournful strings, or overstates the happy ending with skipping fauns and high kicking unicorns. The music is fortunately understated on the track, and had it been more palatable I’d be inclined to complain a bit about the lack of LFE oomph.
The Blu-ray set, which comes with a Digital Copy of the film, features brief but solid extras, starting with a friendly and informative commentary track. The track features director Anne Fletcher and writer Peter Chiarelli, who clearly like each other, and all the other people involved in the production. Besides the general pleasantries Fletcher focuses on the technical aspects of direction, while Chiarelli prefers to focus on things like story structure. Neither commentator seems to think that The Proposal is a work of art, but aren’t swimming in false modesty either. This is followed by the alternate ending (with optional director and writer commentary, 6:50, HD), which is, surprisingly enough, actually quite different than the theatrical ending. Though the filmmakers clearly tried to avoid ending on too big of a cliché by moving the final scene back to New York rather than (spoiler) turning the plane around (/spoiler), this original ending plays better because it inverts the rom-com cliché by acknowledging it. This is followed by a selection of deleted scenes (also with commentary, 7:00, HD), a selection of bloopers and outtakes (6:30, HD), and a few Disney trailers.
Predictable, safe and formulaic to the nth, The Proposal isn’t going to win any rom-com converts, but probably won’t break up any relationships when used as the more female friendly half of a tit-for-tat couples night with the Blu-ray player. If you saw the trailer you know exactly what to expect. Ryan Reynolds comes through entirely unscathed, and Sandra Bullock manages some genuine giggles. Fans of the two leads should at the very least be happy to see them full-side-ly nude. Pretty racy for a Disney release. The disc looks colourful, the soundtrack is clean, and the extras are minimal, yet entertaining and reasonably filling.
* Note: The images on this page are not representative of the Blu-ray release.
Review by Gabriel Powers
Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13
Release Date: 13th October 2009
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English, Dolby Digital 5.1 Spanish, Dolby Digital 5.1 French
Subtitles: English SDH, French and Spanish
Extras: Director/Writer Commentary, Alternate Ending, Deleted Scenes, Outtakes, Trailers, Digital Copy
Easter Egg: No
Director: Anne Fletcher
Cast: Sandra Bullock, Ryan Reynolds, Betty White, Mary Steenburgen, Craig T. Nelson
Length: 108 minutes
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