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Case Number 17540

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The Proposal

Touchstone Pictures // 2009 // 108 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Franck Tabouring (Retired) // October 22nd, 2009

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All Rise...

Judge Franck Tabouring wouldn't say no to Sandra Bullock's proposal, either.

Editor's Note

Our review of The Proposal (Blu-Ray), published October 15th, 2009, is also available.

The Charge

Here comes the bribe…

Opening Statement

Anne Fletcher's The Proposal is undoubtedly one of the better romantic comedies this year. No, the film certainly doesn't break any new ground in this particular genre, but its enjoyable plot, likable characters, and excellent performances make for a thoroughly entertaining viewing experience. In other words, say yes to The Proposal, and I promise you won't be disappointed.

Facts of the Case

In the film, Sandra Bullock slips into the role of Margaret Tate, a harsh book editor who runs into a huge problem when her latest U.S. visa application is denied and she suddenly faces deportation to Canada. Overwhelmed by the shocking news and unwilling to simply give up her career, Margaret resorts to the only option she's got at this point: blackmail her assistant Andrew Paxton (Ryan Reynolds, Adventureland) into a marriage of convenience.

Reluctant at first, Andrew eventually decides to jump on board as long as Margaret promotes him to editor. On top of that, the two also have to convince a ruthless immigration agent their upcoming marriage is real, which is why they start by visiting Andrew's eccentric family in Alaska. It is there that both individuals slowly realize that they may actually have more in common than they originally thought.

The Evidence

Most predictable films I've seen recently failed to win me over, but that's not the case with The Proposal. On the contrary, Fletcher's romantic comedy successfully captured my attention and really made it easy for me to enjoy watching Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds warm up to each other onscreen. That said, don't expect this comedy to break any boundaries, because it operates well within the conventions of its genre.

In fact, The Proposal tells a quite familiar story: it follows two characters who pretty much despise each other at first but then slowly start to fall in love as they get to know each other a little better. It's the standard plot of two people who are not meant to fall for each other but eventually do, and, in this case, I have no problem with that formula. The film works on many levels, and one thing I ended up really appreciating is its light, very accessible humor.

The jokes in Pete Chiarelli's script may not be the most sophisticated out there, but they provoke some light laughs and help create the film's overall harmless, enjoyable atmosphere. Even though we're in for a slow start, The Proposal takes off once Margaret and Andrew arrive in Alaska to see his parents, and, of course, their pretense that they love each other carries a bunch of hilarious comic moments that lighten up the mood and send the second part off to a good start.

Even the film's more intimate, romantic sequences are never too saccharine or overblown. Most of what you see is obviously way over the top, but, in the end, there's just something about this film that manipulates you into forgetting about all the improbable stuff. That something, of course, is the brilliant cast, which I consider to be the movie's most valuable asset.

Yes, it's a real pleasure to see the beautiful Sandra Bullock mastering her role as the tough book editor with a soft side, and she completely dominates every scene she's in. She's got plenty of charm and can both cause laughter and evoke emotions, and her performance as Margaret is quite simply delicious. Most importantly, she managed to make me care about the character she's portraying, and that's always a success.

Bullock also shares a great onscreen chemistry with Ryan Reynolds, who's been delivering a bunch of solid performances recently. Reynolds brings a lot of charm and energy to his character as well, and he and Bullock make all of their scenes together work superbly. Bullock and Reynolds add a lot of flavor to this film, but so does the spectacular supporting cast.

The Proposal is one of those films succeeding via the strong collaboration of its talented actors, and the movie sure has many of those. Craig T. Nelson and the wonderful Mary Steenburgen convincingly play Andrew's parents, while the always funny Betty White delivers some of the film's most hilarious lines as granny Annie. Adding to the whole fun is Oscar Nunez's Ramone, who supplies viewers with a great joke every time he shows up.

This standard DVD edition carries a solid 2.35:1 widescreen presentation, and the quality of the image is crisp and clean throughout. The same goes for the audio transfer, which is why I'm really satisfied with the film's technical aspects.

Besides two deleted scenes with optional commentary by Anne Fletcher and Peter Chiarelli, the bonus material also includes 6 minutes of silly outtakes and an alternate ending, which I admit is by far not as good as the one they ended up using in the final cut. The special features also come with an audio commentary by Fletcher and Chiarelli, and the two cover a wide variety of topics. From characters to story and all the way to the making of the film, Fletcher and Chiarelli share some informative stories you should definitely listen to in case you want to learn more about how the script came together and how they ended up shooting the film.

Closing Statement

As standard as it is, The Proposal is a charming romantic comedy that probably won't provoke huge laughs, but still provides a big smile or two. Oh, and before I forget, it also includes what will probably go down as one of the most surprising dance sequences in big-screen history. Yes, this one scene alone makes this film required viewing. As I mentioned above, say yes to this proposal and enjoy watching Sandra Bullock at her best.

The Verdict

Not guilty.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 89
Audio: 88
Extras: 79
Acting: 88
Story: 80
Judgment: 80

Perp Profile

Studio: Touchstone Pictures
Video Formats:
• 2.35:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
• English (SDH)
• French
• Spanish
Running Time: 108 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
• Comedy
• Romantic Comedies

Distinguishing Marks

• Commentary
• Alternate Ending
• Deleted Scenes
• Outtakes
• Digital Copy


• Official Site
• IMDb

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