Sandra Bullock tries on a different clichéd role for The Proposal, trading in her usual goofy-cute persona for that of a frigid, detestable corporate bitch. The new threads generally suit her, as Bullock’s heartless routine as a Manhattan book publisher who suffers no one lightly is appropriately frosty. Far more chilling about director Anne Fletcher’s contrived hogwash, however, is its regressiveness, which stems not only from its reductive portrait of urban career women as loveless cretins, but also from its hackneyed fish-out-of-water scenario in which said hag is forced to endure a weekend with warm, friendly country folk, and is eventually transformed into a worthwhile individual by a heroically understanding hunk.
Margaret Tate (Bullock) is a tyrant who callously bullies co-workers and, especially, her secretary Andrew (Ryan Reynolds). Upon learning she’s about to be deported to her native Canada, she hatches a plan to stay in the country by blackmailing Andrew into marrying her. It’s a scam that horrifies Andrew (who hates his boss), and leads them both to his wealthy family home in Alaska, where the two gamely attempt to sell their ruse to the clan lest a pesky immigration officer uncover the truth. Cue sarcastic and lewd jokes from grammy (Betty White), conflict between Andrew and his father (Craig T. Nelson), the sight of Margaret and Andrew running smack into each other while both nude, and the phony couple falling for each other thanks to a corny, impromptu duet of Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock’s “It Takes Two.”
Humor and romance are interspersed so predictably it’s as if screenwriter Pete Chairelli were working from a rom-com checklist, whose lame bullet points (animal gags, creepy-weird foreigners, Native American stereotypes) are in service of a story primarily notable for city-country chestnuts and an underlying depiction of professional women as monsters in need of being rescued, figuratively and literally (oh no, Margaret can’t swim!), by Prince Charmings. Bullock and Reynolds’s fruitful combative rapport can’t withstand the film’s adherence to formula, just as their nontraditional older-woman-younger-man age dynamic—and two tech-related jokes (one involving Twitter, the other about dial-up modems)—prove minor progressive elements in otherwise retrograde proceedings.
Dark colors tend to bleed together during interior shots, but outdoor scenes fare much better on this DVD edition of The Proposal. There is slight edge enhancement noticeable, especially during early scenes, but image is decent throughout. Being that it's a romantic comedy, the film isn't very loud or effects-laden, but dialogue is clear-as is the cloying soundtrack.
The best of the lot here is the six-and-a-half-minute featurette "Set Antics: Outtakes and Other Absurdities from The Proposal," which, with the slapstick-y Sandra Bullock and the always reliable Betty White in top form, is a lot funnier than the film itself. The audio commentary, with director Anne Fletcher and screenwriter Pete Chiarelli, is surprisingly listenable: The pair has plenty to say about their project and reveal some interesting tidbits about the art direction (scenes in Ryan Reynolds's character's childhood home were shot in a real house that was retrofitted with more authentically Alaskan-looking walls, while green leaves were affixed to trees in an L.A. park to match earlier scenes) as well as test audiences' lukewarm reaction to "Kevin," White's tiny dog in the film. It was a surprise, then, to find Fletcher and Ciarelli's commentary on the alternate ending quite annoying: Fletcher quotes the dialogue as it's happening and neither can seem to justify why the scene was changed ("too sweet" is one inexplicable explanation). Two deleted scenes with optional commentary round out the extras, one of which, "Phone Call," plays like a commercial for Viagra or life insurance.
Quite a few of bonus features pad this DVD of The Proposal, which is otherwise notable solely for seeing Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds accidentally slam into each other completely in the buff.