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The Proposal (2009)

Touchstone Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 10/13/2009

All Ratings out of

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 10/5/2009

When you think of Sanda Bullock, what comes to mind? Do you picture her in her more famous roles, and if so, what kind of person do you picture? I would venture to guess that most of you see the bubbly, viewer-friendly Sandra Bullock, or "Sandy" as her friends call her, that has inhabited so many of her movies. But, if you take a closer look at her filmography, you'll see that Bullock has played plenty of unlikable characters as well -- and many of these films have been successful. So, how does she fare in her latest film, The Proposal, where she plays a tyrannical boss?

Bullock stars in The Proposal as Margaret Tate, a book editor who terrorizes her entire office. Her assistant, Andrew Paxton (Ryan Reynolds), lives in fear of her, but never voices his opinion, despite the fact that he feels that Margaret is hindering his career. Margaret's boss, Bergen (Michael Nouri), informs her that her application for a visa has been denied and that she's going to be deported to Canada. In a panic, Margaret announces that she and Andrew have been secretly dating and that they are engaged. When Andrew protests, she threatens to ruin his career -- in return, he demands a promotion. They both agree that they will go through with it and get a quicky divorce in a year. In order to appease INS and learn more about one another, Margaret accompanies Andrew to Alaska to meet his parents. Once there, she's surprised to not only learn that Andrew's family essentially runs the town, but that his family is very loving. As Andrew's mom and grandmother (Mary Steenburgen and Betty White) drag Margaret around town, and Andrew fights with his dad (Craig T. Nelson), the friction between the employer and employee begins to ease. Could their fake relationship become a real one?

If you saw the trailer for The Proposal, you probably thought to yourself, "Wow, that looks formulaic." And, you were right. The central plot may be somewhat unique (although, we have seen Green Card plots before), the bulk of the film is very much paint-by-numbers. Margaret is the workaholic woman who's never had time for a relationship. Andrew is a stand-up kind of guy who has hid his privileged past from everyone in order to make it on his own. (Isn't it usually a female character who does this sort of thing?) Andrew's family has the requisite family members who run hot and cold, and Betty White plays the sassy senior citizen to the hilt. Of course, Andrew's old flame (played by Malin Akerman) pops up, and the movie features a comically zany character who arrives every few scenes for comic relief (played here by Oscar Nunez of The Office.) It's as if screenwriter Peter Chiarelli got the Touchstone play book and simply went down the list picking elements for the screenplay.

The one thing that elevates The Proposal above the norm is the cast. Again, Sandra Bullock is playing slightly against type here. She's played uptight before (Two Weeks Notice), but it's rare for her to play a character this venomous. Of course, she does loosen up...a bit too much. The film may lose some viewers at the 70-minute mark when Bullock's "cutesy, playful" side comes out and nearly derails the film. Ryan Reynolds has been moving up through the ranks on his way to leading man status, and he does a good job here of balancing his familiar dry wit with real emotion. 87-year old Betty White shows that she's not ready to slow down with her spirited performance as Gammie. The weak link here may be Ramone. Oscar Nunez is clearly going for broke in his role, but this is the kind of character who is best in small doses and as the film progresses, we simply get too much Ramone.

In the end, The Proposal is a serviceable, but forgettable comedy. There are some funny moments, but some which are clearly meant to be knee-slapping set-pieces (such as when Margaret and the dog go outside) fall very flat. Director Anne Fletcher gave us similar results in 27 Dresses. She appears to be stuck in a rut of making amiable comedies which don't challenge the audience or bring us anything new.

The Proposal is into old school club music on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Touchstone Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 28 Mbps. The image is incredibly sharp and clear, showing no grain and no defects from the source material. It's been a while since I've seen a Blu-ray with this kind of depth. Look at the scene where Margaret and Andrew have just left the INS office. The separation between the actors in the foreground and the action in the background is very impressive. The colors look great and the image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is good and the picture has an overall crispness to it that we don't get on DVD. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 3.8 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects are quite good and come into play during street scenes and the engagement party. The surround sound effects are evident during many of the exterior scenes, especially those at the airport. We get a small amount of subwoofer action here.

The Proposal Blu-ray Disc contains a smattering of extras. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Director Anne Fletcher and Writer Peter Chiarelli. The Disc contains three DELETED SCENES which run about six minutes and cen be viewed with commentary by Fletcher and Chiarelli. These are simply extra moments from existing scenes with no new characters or subplots. The six-minute "Alternate Ending" gives the same outcome as the ending in the finished film, but in a different location. "Set Antics: Outtakes and Other Absurdities from The Proposal" (6 minutes) is a series of bloopers and odd comments from actor Aasif Mandvi.

Review Copyright 2009 by Mike Long