Reviewed by: Angela Bowman
|Featuring:||Sandra Bullock, Ryan Reynolds, Mary Steenburgen, Malin Akerman, Craig T. Nelson, Betty White, Denis O'Hare, Oscar Nuñez, Aasif Mandvi, Michael Nouri, Michael Mosley, Dale Place, Alicia Hunt, Alexis R. Garcia, Kortney Adams, Chris Whitney, Jerell Lee Wesley, Gregg Edelman, Phyllis Kay, Kate Lacey, Gene Fleming, Mary Linda Rapelye, Anne Fletcher, B. Johnson|
|Producer:||Kurtzman/Orci, Mandeville Films, Touchstone Pictures, Kristin Burr, David Hoberman, Alex Kurtzman, Todd Lieberman, Mary McLaglen, Roberto Orci|
|Distributor:||Walt Disney Pictures|
“Here comes the bribe…”
“The Proposal” is a romantic comedy, intended to be heartwarming, hilarious and classically cliché. And while it certainly delivered on the laughs, at some points so much so that the dialogue was drowned out by the roaring laughter of the audience, and even had a few tear-jerking scenes, I walked away more disgusted with each passing moment as these brief instances were forgotten leaving the crude and vulgar sexuality that dominated the film illuminated in mind.
Margaret Tate (played by Sandra Bullock) is a daunting and vicious New York executive who discovers she is about to be deported back to her native Canada. Desperate to maintain her position and save face within the company, she reveals that she is engaged to her assistant, Andrew Paxton (Ryan Reynolds), who is a U.S. citizen, and their marriage will resolve the deportation issue. The problem is that not only is this completely untrue, but Andrew in fact despises her, only answering her every bidding in the hopes of being justly rewarded with a promotion. As it turns out, the immigration process is not so simple as their assigned officer is out to prove their fraud, intent on a full investigation. The two come to a mutual agreement so they will both benefit from the marriage, but have to travel to Alaska to convince both his family and the skeptical immigration officer that they are truly in love. And as far as the storyline goes, it continues on a predictable course, as most movies of this genre generally do, as is the reason they are generally enjoyable.
While I haven’t seen all of Sandra Bullock's films, I have to say that I had a higher expectation of her, as it does seem that she is known for her modesty. So I was extremely disappointed that she chose to go so far in this film. In a particular scene, her character Margaret has just finished showering and is in search of a towel. Meanwhile, Andrew is undressing, preparing to take a shower himself, neither realizing the other’s presence until they run into each other and fall down together, both completely naked and shown in side view. While all of their private areas are technically covered, this is still a gratuitous display, and in the moments prior to this incident, Margaret is shown in length with only her arm to cover her breasts and a small cloth mitt held in front of her groin.
In another scene, Andrew’s mother, Grace (Mary Steenburgen) and his grandmother Annie (Betty White) hire Ramone, an exotic dancer for Margaret. Ramone is not only the exotic dancer, he is the wait staff, sales clerk and marriage officiant of the town as well, and while intended to be comical rather than arousing, this scene nonetheless contains a man in a skimpy Speedo, gyrating in vulgar sexual positions around Margaret. And due to the length of the scene and the focus of the camera, was equally as horrifying an experience as the previously mentioned one.
Additional sexual content abounds, including the fact that Margaret and Andrew are assumed to be having sex so Andrew’s parents put them in a room together and Grandma Annie gives them a quilt with “special powers” which she calls the “baby maker,” this quilt is also referred to again later in the story. Grandma Annie also admits to being “knocked up” prior to her wedding as well as being “chesty” during a scene focused on Margaret’s breasts while altering the heirloom wedding dress in which Grandma Annie is on an “Easter egg hunt” trying to find Margaret’s breast in the large expanse of fabric that is unfilled by Margaret’s figure. Andrew’s parents bring the couple breakfast in bed, requiring them to jump into bed together (Andrew had been sleeping on the floor) but they have a difficult time arranging themselves after Margaret’s suggestion to “spoon” reveals that Andrew is “horny.”
Other negatives include Andrew grabbing Margaret’s behind on two occasions, the second one causing Margaret to threaten to cut off his balls. After the nude scenes, it seems almost irrelevant to mention the skimpy lingerie-type pajamas that Margaret wears to bed as they are quite modest in contrast. Margaret shares that she hasn’t had sex in eighteen months. There is a question about favored position (top or bottom) as well as an obscure reference to homosexuality in an office mate. Margaret is referred to as a “witch” as well as a “b-tch” and “Satan’s mistress.” Andrew is asked if Margaret “farts,” and they have a small argument over whether or not she does. I also found the fact that Ramone is both the exotic dancer and marriage officiant to be possibly offensive because of the seriousness of the marriage covenant and that it could have implied a pastoral role, especially as his legal status is questioned in the end which would give reason to believe he is not a Justice of the Peace.
Offensive language includes numerous uses of “oh my G--,” as well as “for the love of G--” and misuse of Jesus and Christ directly in addition to “sh-t,” “b-tch,” “cr-p,” “'p-ssed,” “jack-ss,” “-ss” and “balls;” the last two also used numerous times in a song/chant in which Margaret is dancing provocatively.
The spirituality is brought in from Grandma Annie’s type of Native American inspired beliefs in her reference to the ‘special powers’ of the quilt, the ‘spirits’ taking her upon death, ‘signs’ from the universe and a ceremony/ritual dance around a fire in tribal apparel in which she gives thanks to ‘mother earth’ and asks for Margaret’s loins to be fertile.
As there was so much negative content I was tempted to skim over the bulk of it, simply recommending this film not fit for Christian consumption, however I also realize that each person has their own level of conviction and what they personally find offensive or distasteful so I felt it was important to convey not only the amount of negativity, but the extent of the content as well. And it’s too bad that after all that, there was hardly room to delve into the meatier parts of the story, in the conflict between Andrew and his father (Craig T. Nelson) that caused Andrew to isolate himself from his family and that prevented him from forgiving his father, or the tragic past of Margaret which propelled her into this callous and unemotional person. We obtain just enough to glimpse the person trapped inside so much ice with Margaret and the “reconciliation” between Andrew and his father was simply pitiful and unconvincing. As far as the actual “romance” between Margaret and Andrew, it appeared to be more lust from physical attraction than love toward the character that drives the two together, which makes one wonder if the creators of this story have lust and love confused.
While “The Proposal” makes the point of this particular fraudulent marriage being wrong, it does so by focusing on the wrong in the hurt and deception of Andrew’s family and Andrew himself in that it is potentially keeping him from his true love. These are noble causes, however without a higher purpose, it leads one to believe the marriage of convenience and a subsequent “quickie divorce” would have been acceptable had Andrew no family or long lost love to be accountable to. In the world’s eyes, marriage is not a sacred vow and covenant made before God, and according to this film, apparently, marriage itself really has no meaning. The fact that the concern of the feelings of others is the emphasis rather than the actual sanctity of marriage, and that marriage itself is never held in regard of any kind, and further degraded by the fact that the exotic dancer is the officiant in place of a priest or pastor is a sad reality of the current popular view, not only of marriage, but of God and of godliness. This is confirmed by the gloomy outlook held by characters at the end of the film. Andrew asking Margaret to marry him so he can date her, both admitting to being scared and obviously not ready to make such a somber and serious commitment, while on the surface may appear to be “cute” is at the same time repeating this underlying current of the irrelevancy of marriage. Also a comment made by Ramone, who tells the immigration officer that he wouldn’t say the two are soul mates, but at least they won’t kill each other. (The last part of this line I have to admit initially made me laugh along with everyone else, but thinking about it combined with the context of the previous and the rest of the movie truly dissolves any humor.) The problem is when you take an honest look at what you’ve just swallowed after watching this film, I’m afraid “The Proposal” isn’t at all worth the laughs and just leaves one feeling empty and dirty in the end.
“So I tell you this… that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more. You however did not come to know Christ that way… You were taught with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:17-24 NIV)
Violence: None / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Heavy
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.