The Proposal: Deluxe DVD Edition
October 13, 2009
In the mid to late 1990s, Sandra Bullock was a potent box office force with films like Speed (1994) and While You Were Sleeping (1995). She had a charming, girl-next-door quality and a knack for comedy that mainstream audiences loved. In the 2000s, she branched out, trying her hand at more serious fare like 28 Days (2000) and Murder by Numbers (2002), which were not successful commercially or critically. Had she lost her touch and been eclipsed by younger actresses like Katherine Heigl or Isla Fisher? In 2009, Bullock demonstrated that she still had the ability to rack up very impressive box office numbers with The Proposal, besting both Heigl and Fisher’s latest films, combined.
Margaret (Bullock) is a busy, no-nonsense editor-in-chief at a powerful publishing company in New York City. She’s feared by her staff, chief among them her long-suffering assistant Andrew (Reynolds). Margaret is originally from Canada and has neglected her immigration status. She is informed by her boss (Nouri) that her visa application has been denied and she’s going to be deported. She can reapply but will have to leave the United States for a year unless she can come up with a quick solution.
On the fly, Margaret informs her boss that she and Andrew are engaged to be married – much to his complete surprise. Ryan Reynolds handles this scene well as his character tries desperately to mask his shock and bewilderment in front of Margaret and her superiors. You can actually see the news sink in as he comes to grips with it. If Andrew doesn’t agree to this “merger” then he can kiss his dreams of becoming an editor goodbye. The rest of the film sees Margaret and Andrew trying desperately to maintain the facade that they are very much in love, including spending a weekend at his family’s house in Alaska celebrating his grandmother’s (White) 90th birthday.
Naturally, much of The Proposal’s humour is derived from Bullock’s ice queen mixing it up with Andrew’s down-to-earth family. The veteran actress looks like she’s having a lot of fun portraying an all-business control freak that has to act like a loving human being in front of her fiance’s family. She has wonderful comic timing with Reynolds as evident in the scene where they, spur of the moment, tell his family how he proposed to her. With his deadpan sense of humour, Reynolds is a good foil for Bullock. Andrew can’t stand his boss and delights in finally being able to turn the tables on her by tormenting her with public displays of affection. Andrew’s reactions to Margaret’s sometimes unusual behaviour are priceless.
With The Proposal, Bullock is back on familiar turf in the kind of film that people want to see her in. Admittedly, this film is nothing special but it is a pleasant enough time waster with two appealing leads and a colourful cast of supporting characters. It’s just nice to see Bullock back on top, showing younger actresses that she still has what it takes to appeal to a mainstream audience.
There are two deleted scenes with optional commentary by director Anne Fletcher and writer Peter Chiarelli. There is a nice scene with Andrew’s parents (Nelson and Steenburgen). We also see Margaret and Andrew getting a little more comfortable with each other. They are nice enough scenes but not essential and one can see why they were cut.
There is an alternate ending with optional commentary. Fletcher and Chiarelli talk about why they didn’t use this ending and another one that they didn’t use as well. The humour in this scene is much broader than the rest of the film and seems out of place.
“Set Antics: Outtakes and Other Absurdities from The Proposal” is a montage of the cast goofing around on set. It looks like they had a lot of fun making this film.
Finally, there is an audio commentary by Fletcher and Chiarelli. They start off explaining the dichotomy between the two main characters. Fletcher says that Bullock loved the screenplay and gave Chiarelli all kinds of notes to make her character nastier. He talks about the mechanics of the story while she talks about the challenge of working on location. This is a fairly decent track by two people clearly proud of their film.