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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.
For more about The Proposal and the The Proposal Blu-ray release, see the The Proposal Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on October 5, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Sandra Bullock, Ryan Reynolds, Betty White, Mary Steenburgen, Craig T. Nelson, Malin Akerman
Director: Anne Fletcher
» See full cast & crew
The Proposal Blu-ray Review
A decent romantic comedy nets a decent Blu-ray release...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, October 5, 2009
Somewhere, deep in the bowels of Hollywood, a dark cadre of executives guard a secret formula; an arcane equation used to cast perfect couples, concoct bizarre but charming circumstances, and produce the next great romantic comedy. The Proposal is the latest in a long line of profitable genre hits that owe their very existence to this ancient formula. Its particular variables? Sandra Bullock returning to her While You Were Sleeping roots! Ryan Reynolds turning on his Definitely, Maybe charm! A kooky grandma! A grumpy dad! A romance that defies expectation and logic! An ice queen who rediscovers her emotional core! An impromptu wedding! A mad, declarative dash to the airport! A string of lies no one really seems to care about! A relationship born from sheer convenience, solidified by trials, and honed by adversity! With each variable in its proper place, The Proposal earned $290 million at the worldwide box office and gave its makers an unequivocal hit. Not too shabby for a formulaic, predictable, altogether saccharine romcom.
Imagine Meryl Streep had a male assistant in The Devil Wears Prada. Now imagine she discovered she was about to be deported to Canada and, in an impulsive flurry of rapidfire decisions, ordered her assistant to commit fraud and marry her. Drop Ryan Reynolds in the role of the assistant and swap out Streep for Sandra Bullock, and you'll have a pretty good idea of what to expect from The Proposal. With a tenacious immigration officer named Mr. Gilbertson (Denis O'Hare) nipping at their dishonest heels, Margaret and Andrew have less than a week to learn everything there is to know about each other before Gilbertson puts their relationship to the test. Fortunately, Andrew's parents (Mary Steenburgen and Craig T. Nelson) are hosting a birthday party in Alaska for his grandmother (Betty White). But how will Andrew introduce his boss -- the same one he's been complaining about for years -- as the new love of his life? What will he and Margaret do when his family insists they get married while they're in Alaska? More importantly, what will the fraudulent couple do when they begin to have legitimate feelings for each other? Safe and syrupy hilarity ensues as Andrew and Margaret lie their way through an increasingly salty series of circumstances sure to leave romantic comedy apologists in stitches and tears.
Sadly, most viewers will be less impressed with the proceedings. Director Anne Fletcher (Step Up, 27 Dresses) and rookie screenwriter Pete Chiarelli manage to inject some freshness into a variety of tired genre conventions, but neither filmmaker deserves much credit for The Proposal's success. Had Andrew and Margaret been played by anyone other than Reynolds and Bullock, the film would be insufferable. The accomplished actors have such fascinating will-they/won't-they chemistry that I actually found myself caring about what would become of each of them. Yes, their characters learn too much about themselves and each other in a terribly short span of time, and yes, reality would prevent such a couple from ever, ever succeeding, but I have to admit my wife and I enjoyed watching it all unfold. Andrew and Margaret's initial distaste for each other is palpable, their eventual affection is believable (even when Chiarelli's script shortchanges their budding feelings), and their inevitable pairing, while rushed in the third act, is an unexpectedly digestible development in the story. More importantly, Reynolds and Bullock commit to every scene, regardless of how ridiculous it might be, and bring more complexity to their roles than their director probably anticipated. It's just a shame that Fletcher so readily abandons genuinely touching scenes for some rather unbearable slapstick (a dog-swiping bird and an awkward forest ritual among them) aimed at women who were already forty when While You Were Sleeping first captured their hearts.
While it may come as a shock to Bullock's doting fans, it's Reynolds -- not dear genre-staple Sandra -- who earns the most sympathy and, by extension, the most laughs. In an inspired bit of gender-swapped ingenuity, Reynolds is given a role that would normally be assigned to an actress: that of a reluctant, good-natured subordinate chained to an all-too-callous employer. It's not exactly Bullock's fault though. Margaret is such a vile antagonist that it's difficult to feel anything but disdain for her every action, even after she begins to undergo her rather sudden but telegraphed transformation. The problem is two-fold: the vulnerable gaps in her armor are revealed far too late in the game to be as effective as they should be, and her overall arc is too forced to resonate. Apparently, all it takes to alter someone's personality is three days in a quaint Alaskan town, poor cellular service, and a steady parade of embarrassing encounters. It doesn't help that Andrew and his parents are the only characters who resemble actual human beings. Everyone else is either a cartoon (Andrew's grandmother), an agent of exposition (his ex-girlfriend), or a caricature (the ever-eager Mr. Gilbertson). Cameos by The Office's Oscar Nuñez and The Daily Show's Aasif Mandvi are funnier than most other scenes combined, but their supporting castmates tend to flounder.
Had The Proposal shed its formula and forged a path all its own, it could've been a more amusing, sincere, and profound romantic comedy. Of course, it probably would've made less money, drawn a smaller audience, and been shuffled out of theaters six weeks earlier. Reynolds and Bullock make this one better than it should be, and for that my wife and I are grateful, but it also feels far too familiar; a romcom cobbled together from the remains of other profitable romcoms. I'm sure The Proposal will continue to find success on home video... I just wish smaller, smarter, sharper movies received the same attention as these somewhat brainless crowd pleasers.
The Proposal Blu-ray, Video Quality
The Proposal saunters onto Blu-ray with a somewhat uneven 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer that struggles to deliver a consistent image. Oliver Stapleton's steely cityscapes, warm offices, and autumnal countrysides are bolstered by vibrant primaries and bold colors, but skintones are all over the place. Natural, flushed, bronzed, chalky... Reynolds and crew look as if they've been yanked from half a dozen films and half a dozen different transfers. Contrast and black levels are more reliable, but also prone to odd quirks including flattened depth and smoky shadows. Thankfully, the picture is on point more often than not. Detail is sharp and satisfying, delineation is strong, and textures, while a bit mushy here and there, are generally pleasing. Disney's technical presentation is quite proficient as well. I didn't detect any artifacting, source noise, crush, or banding, and edge enhancement has been kept to a minimum. As it stands, videophiles will rightfully wrinkle their noses at several scenes, but romcom regulars will be more forgiving of its occasional shortcomings.
The Proposal Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The Proposal's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track is more remarkable than its video transfer, especially when compared to other romantic comedy lossless mixes on the market. Dialogue is crisp and clear, Aaron Zigman's score mingles effortlessly with the rest of the soundscape, and environmental ambience is crisp and playful. As you might expect, the LFE channel and rear speakers are subdued, but never far removed from the experience. Voices are weighty and street noise is convincing, lending some legitimacy to the at-times front-heavy soundfield. Likewise, lapping water and rustling branches make immersion a cinch. It isn't the most absorbing track I've listened to -- that would require Andrew to whip out a couple of swords at his ex-girlfriends wedding -- but it handles what little it's handed with style.
The Proposal Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Blu-ray edition of The Proposal includes the same succinct features that appear on the standard DVD, tacks on an additional deleted scene, and presents all of the video content in high definition. It isn't a spectacular supplemental package by any means, but I'm sure romcommers will be happy to dig through everything it has to offer.
The Proposal Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Even if you haven't seen The Proposal yet, chances are you've already seen The Proposal. It's a solid genre offering, sure, but it draws from too many genre hits to be as memorable as it could have been. At least Reynolds and Bullock elevate the film above its lazy script and barebones direction. Disney's Blu-ray edition isn't a perfect release either, but it does offer a decent video transfer, a strong DTS-HD Master Audio track, and a small smattering of pleasant extras. Ultimately, romantic comedy fans will be quick to voice their approval, but everyone else should check out the film before considering a purchase.
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Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment has announced that they will bring the Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds comedy 'The Proposal' to Blu-ray on October 13th, day-and-date with the DVD release. Coming in both two and single disc releases (the two-disc version ...
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