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The Proposal DVD Review (Deluxe DVD Edition + Digital Copy)

The Proposal movie poster The Proposal

Theatrical Release: June 19, 2009 / Running Time: 108 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

Director: Anne Fletcher / Writer: Peter Chiarelli

Cast: Sandra Bullock (Margaret Tate), Ryan Reynolds (Andrew Paxton), Mary Steenburgen (Grace Paxton), Craig T. Nelson (Joe Paxton), Betty White (Grandma Annie), Denis O'Hare (Mr. Frank Gilbertson), Malin Akerman (Gertrude), Oscar Nuñez (Ramone), Aasif Mandvi (Bob Spaulding), Michael Nouri (Chairman Bergen), Gregg Edelman (Lead Counsel Malloy), Michael Mosley (Chuck)

Buy The Proposal from Amazon.com: Single-Disc DVDDeluxe Edition DVD with Digital CopyBlu-ray with Digital Copy

When the Walt Disney Company decided in 2006 to limit the number of films made by its Touchstone Pictures division, it raised the stakes on each release. For over twenty years, Touchstone's movies ran a gamut similar to any studio. There were hits, there were misses, and there were plenty of things in between each and every year.
The Proposal film clip - "We're getting married":
Since 2007, when the Touchstone output became visibly reduced, each of the year's two or three films has become an experiment, a gamble whose reception has major implications not only for what is greenlit under Disney's "adult" banner but also for how rival studios operate.

Earning more than any Touchstone movie since Signs, 2007's Wild Hogs seemed to vouch for the appeal of the broad PG-13 comedy. The five films that followed did far less business (the biggest hit of the bunch was the atrocious Step Up 2 The Streets). But broad PG-13 comedy again came to the rescue in The Proposal, one of this summer's few profitable farces. The film's golden take (over $160 million stateside and nearly $300 M worldwide) on modest costs (a reported $40 M production budget) rendered it successful enough to help cover the considerable losses presently being eaten on Surrogates. (But not successful enough for reputable Disney chairman Dick Cook to keep his job.)

Faced with deportation and a career setback, Margaret Tate (Sandra Bullock) and Andrew Paxton (Ryan Reynolds) abruptly announce their plans to wed in the hit 2009 comedy "The Proposal." Margaret and Andrew get into snuggling position to maintain the appearance of a couple for his family.

The Proposal centers on two employees of a New York City publishing company. Margaret Tate (Sandra Bullock) is the company's powerful editor-in-chief, whose mere appearance puts underlings at attention. Andrew Paxton (Ryan Reynolds) is her fully exploited assistant, whose life has taken a backseat to keeping Margaret satisfied in the hopes of one day landing a promotion.

On an otherwise ordinary work day, Margaret is called into her superior's office and notified of a pressing legal issue. It appears that Margaret, a Canadian, has had her U.S. work visa renewal application denied. She is now to be deported north of the border for a year. That's a devastating prospect; not only would she have to relinquish the prestigious position she's worked for, she would be replaced by a man she just fired and presumably Andrew would be let go and his work ethic forgotten. On the spot, Margaret cooks up a plan. She announces her engagement to Andrew, seeing that as an easy way for her immigration dilemma to disappear.

Sternly warned by a government official (Denis O'Hare) about the serious punishments fraudulent marriages incur, Margaret and Andrew prepare for a challenging investigation process. They also discover it's challenge enough to merely play an engaged couple, something they must do in front of the large audience gathered at Andrew's family's mansion in Alaskan island town Sitka for a weekend celebrating his grandmother's (Betty White) ninetieth birthday.

Gammy (Betty White) and Mom (Mary Steenburgen) are all smiles at the prospect of moving the wedding up to this weekend. Dad (Craig T. Nelson) seems less enthused. Unfortunately, Margaret (Sandra Bullock) gets an impromptu bachelorette party from Sitka's one exotic dancer (Oscar Nuñez).

Clearly, this is a concept romantic comedy, one built upon a foundation sturdy enough to practically write its own screenplay. Give it one thought and you can guess how the movie will end. (Hint: Margaret and Andrew have zero romantic interest in one another.) In fact, give it another thought and you can largely predict how it will move toward that conclusion. That recognizable actors Mary Steenburgen and Craig T. Nelson play Andrew's parents
accurately indicates multi-generational appeal. That this follows 27 Dresses and Step Up to become the third film directed by choreographer Anne Fletcher reveals you needn't worry about things getting too heady.

There is an old-fashioned quality to the premise of two acquaintances pretending their sham engagement is real. It's the kind of plot you'd believe was attached to an old Spencer Tracy/Katherine Hepburn or Clark Gable/Claudette Colbert film if someone told you that. In execution, though, The Proposal is all 21st century. There are the obligatory cell phone and cute animal gags, which actually overlap. The leads briefly display their well-toned physiques in a broadcastable state of undress. And viewers are transparently manipulated from thinking the protagonists can't stand each other to thinking that they can't stand life without each other. Done over bedtime confessions, circumstance, and a duet of Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock's "It Takes Two", the formula manipulation is actually pretty easy to take.

Some of the other antics, those designed for laughs, are less agreeable. For instance, I don't think anybody benefits from the exotic dancing of Oscar Nuñez. Putting on a Spanish accent, the supporting player from NBC's "The Office" accepts more exposure than is needed of his unfunny cocktail waiter/storekeeper caricature. On the other hand, 60-year showbiz veteran Betty White makes the most of her moments, oozing charm even when she's stuck groping Bullock, stuffing bills in Nuñez's pants, and acting goofily tribal in the woods. There are no complaints to lob at the reliable Steenburgen and Nelson, nor at Malin Akerman playing Andrew's seemingly perfect ex-girlfriend.

But, of course, it is Bullock and Reynolds' show. They manage to keep the proceedings more buoyant than they'd be in less capable hands. It helps that their characters are written to be nothing less than sympathetic. The scary professional side of Margaret is set aside the moment she lands in Alaska. And Reynolds spares us his usual suave prophet smarm, instead committing to restraint as the fairly decent, human, put-upon secretary.

Just under four months since starting its highly successful theatrical run, The Proposal comes to DVD and Blu-ray next week. As is becoming commonplace even for films without the big audiences, it is released in two different DVD versions. Though each consists of one standard DVD, the contents differ and the more expensive choice -- called Deluxe DVD Edition -- also includes a digital copy DVD-ROM.

Buy The Proposal: Deluxe Edition DVD from Amazon.com DVD Details

2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, French, Spanish)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, French, Spanish
Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled and Captioned
Release Date: October 13, 2009
Two single-sided, dual-layered discs (DVD-9 & DVD-5 DVD-ROM)
Suggested Retail Price: $39.99
Black Keepcase with Side Snaps in Embossed Cardboard Slipcover
Also available in Single-Disc DVD and on Blu-ray Disc


Although some of its fanbase might prefer to see the film in fullscreen, The Proposal thankfully comes to DVD exclusively in its 2.35:1 widescreen theatrical aspect ratio, enhanced for 16:9 displays. It looks fine, with digitally-enhanced Massachusetts scenically standing in for Sitka and the visuals having the clarity and polish of major studio fare. The Dolby 5.1 soundtrack is also adequate, if unremarkably so.

Craig T. Nelson gives us an idea of what a live-action Mr. Incredible might look like receiving his assignment as Joe listens to an answering machine message from suspicious Mr. Gilbertson. Cut from the final film, Niecy Nash has her brief appearance as a flight attendant serving as go-between for the "lovers" preserved in the Deluxe DVD Edition's alternate ending.


Unlike Touchstone's previous dual-edition release (Confessions of a Shopaholic), this one keeps almost all of the bonus features exclusive to the Deluxe Edition. The one extra available on both DVD versions of The Proposal is an audio commentary by director Anne Fletcher and writer Peter Chiarelli. Although they take a light, rambling tone, the track is informative. It's just not very interesting. Stories and observations don't go anywhere; we hear about reshoots, script revisions, test audiences, subtle special effects, and Massachusetts locations. Fletcher can't help but heap heavy praise on all the actors, emphasizing whoever's on screen. There's nothing about this being intended as a Julia Roberts vehicle.
Nor anything else worth repeating or able to enhance a viewing. Don't bother finding the time to listen to this.

The video bonuses begin with two short, timecode-bordered deleted scenes (2:14). One shows Andrew's parents talking and getting a call from the immigration agent; the other is a meaningful walk and talk in town by the betrothed couple. They're presented with optional commentary, which is mostly just Fletcher saying what you'd expect. A third deleted scene is apparently the only extra exclusive to the Blu-ray edition.

More substantial is an alternate ending (6:32), which stays on the runway (with green screen unreplaced) as Andrew communicates through Sitka's air traffic controller and an exasperated, otherwise cut flight attendant (Niecy Nash, "Reno 911!"). Basically just a relocation of the film's existing conclusion, this has a more dramatic, immediate, and romcomy feel to it. In the commentary, Fletcher and Chiarelli explain what they don't like about this and how it came to be reworked.

During a break on his one day of shooting, "Daily Show" correspondent Aasif Mandvi acts like the host of "Set Antics: Outtakes and Other Absurdities", coming clean about his co-stars' true heights. Fall leaves blow across the DVD main menu's pleasant rendering of the Paxtons' stately Alaskan residence.

Finally, "Set Antics: Outtakes and Other Absurdities from The Proposal" (6:32) lives up to its name. It is a bit longer and more entertaining than your typical blooper reel.
The Proposal bonus feature clip - Bloopers:
Scattered throughout are tongue-in-cheek camera addresses by the likes of Fletcher and actor Aasif Mandvi, appreciated in the absence of featurettes.

The second disc holds only a digital copy of the film, redeemable in the next eighteen months in iTunes and Windows Media formats. At least, they're not calling it a "2-Disc DVD" as they did for Shopaholic.

The interesting main menu gives us a look of the Paxtons' lake house with animated touches. Also scored but static, the secondary menus take a more conventional approach with character publicity art.

The disc opens with trailers for Old Dogs and Everybody's Fine. The Sneak Peeks menus hold these and promos for Blu-ray, "Legend of the Seeker": The Complete First Season, Cheri, "Lost": The Complete Fifth Season, 10 Things I Hate About You: 10th Anniversary Special Edition, and Disney's Fairy Tale Weddings & Honeymoons.

Living up to its moniker, this Deluxe Edition includes a cardboard slipcover, which repeats everything below, but adds a second spine, letting you choose whether you want Ryan Reynolds or Sandra Bullock looking out from your shelf. The sleeve is embossed and, in one tiny but sensible place, holographic. One insert supplies the code and directions for your digital copy, the other promotes Blu-ray.

Margaret (Sandra Bullock) and Drew (Ryan Reynolds) supply a change of scenery and some action with their boat ride squabble. Knowing that this is a PG-13 film, Margaret (Sandra Bullock) thinks to manually cover up her private parts while using a hair dryer to defend her nude self from a puppy.


The Proposal can't be called original or surprising, but then few entries to the romantic comedy genre can. The movie earns its summer crowds and general audience satisfaction with passable entertainment value, competent acting,
and -- above all else -- the comfort that such a combination provides. Award-worthy, hilarious, or great? No. But it's about as diverting as the director's previous effort, 27 Dresses, and works in similar ways. The charismatic leads seem deserving of the career boosts that the film's success should give them.

So long as you don't expect anything out of the ordinary, The Proposal merits a look and makes for an okay viewing. If you're convinced this is one for the collection, neither of the two DVD versions is easier to recommend. The Deluxe Edition's video extras are kind of fun to see, but there's just 15 minutes of them, meaning it's the digital copy you probably won't use that's commanding the $5-10 premium. On the other hand, the basic disc carries only a subpar audio commentary, but it will be a lot cheaper, especially a few months from now.

Buy The Proposal from Amazon.com:
Basic 1-Disc DVD / Deluxe DVD with Digital Copy / Blu-ray with Digital Copy

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Related Reviews:
New: Ghosts of Girlfriends PastYear OneCastle: The Complete First SeasonGrey's Anatomy: The Complete Fifth Season
Directed by Anne Fletcher: Step Up | Touchstone Pictures: Confessions of a ShopaholicDan in Real LifeWild HogsSwing Vote
Starring Sandra Bullock: Premonition | Featuring Ryan Reynolds: AdventurelandScrubs: The Complete Second Season
Fred ClausFather of the Bride (15th Anniversary Edition) • Wedding DazeSmart PeopleLicense to WedLabor Pains

The Proposal's Supporting Cast:
Mary Steenburgen: Step BrothersOne Magic Christmas | Craig T. Nelson: PoltergeistThe IncrediblesBlades of Glory
Betty White: The Golden Girls: Seasons 1-7Ugly Betty: The Complete Second Season | Dennis O'Hare: Once Upon a Mattress
Malin Akerman: The Heartbreak Kid | Aasif Mandvi: Ghost Town | Michael Nouri: Flashdance (Special Collector's Edition)

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Reviewed October 7, 2009.

Text copyright 2009 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2009 Touchstone Pictures, Mandeville Films, and Buena Vista Home Entertainment. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.