DVD Tuesday: ‘The Proposal’ & ‘Drag Me to Hell’

by W. Andrew Powell

Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock in 'The Proposal'

Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock in 'The Proposal'

New this week, Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds star as fake fiancées in the romantic comedy, The Proposal; Sam Raimi directs Alison Lohman in the critically acclaimed horror film, Drag Me To Hell; plus a look at the box office bomb, Land Of The Lost, and one of the funniest animated movies, South Park Bigger, Longer, & Uncut on Blu-ray.

The Proposal
Perennial romantic comedy star Sandra Bullock returns to her favorite genre alongside Canadian co-star Ryan Reynolds in a story that may seem pretty familiar if you’ve been watching movies anytime in the last decade.

In The Proposal, Bullock plays Margaret, a mean-spirited book editor who dreams up a sham marriage to her assistant Andrew, played Reynolds, when she is faced with deportation from America.

Thrust into the lie, the two would-be lovebirds travel to Alaska to be with Andrew’s family for his grandmother’s 90th birthday, but as they get to know each other more the reality of their relationship starts to weigh on both of them. The two fakers also have to contend with pressure from Andrew’s family, and an investigation by the U.S. immigrations office, which suspects the two co-workers are committing fraud; which, of course, they are.

Under the hand of director Anne Fletcher, who previously made the romantic comedy hit 27 Dresses, and the dance film Step Up, The Proposal works best when Reynolds and Bullock are on screen. There’s a simple level of chemistry that constantly works in their favour, and I also couldn’t help but laugh as Bullock played her character’s bumbling nature throughout any scene that involved taking the stiff business woman out of her comfort zone.

Co-starring Betty White as the weird but wonderful grandmother, who is amazing as always, plus Mary Steenburgen, and Craig T. Nelson as Andrew’s sweet parents, The Proposal is a recycled plot that actually works most of the time because the cast help infuse the story with a shred of believability, not to mention emotion and laughter.

Wrapping up with a forgettable final chapter, The Proposal isn’t a complete winner, but it’s funny and sweet enough to warrant a watch.

Drag Me To Hell
From the director who brought us the Evil Dead films and the Spider-Man trilogy comes a new horror film for a new era, courtesy of the great Sam Raimi, who once again returns his horrific roots.

Starring Alison Lohman, Drag Me To Hell is the tale of Christine, a young bank officer who kicks a mysterious old lady out of her home when the sad and scary woman can’t make her payments. In retaliation, the old woman curses Christine, setting an evil spirit on her that turns her entire life to hell, and will end up dragging her there in just three days time.

Christine’s only hope is to turn to a seer, who can try to reverse the curse, but the cost could be very high indeed.

Capitalizing on classic horror from the 70s and 80s, which originally inspired Raimi’s filmmaking in the first place, Drag Me To Hell is a great film to check out now that we’re creeping up on Halloween, and it also stands out as one of the best-reviewed big budget films of 2009, especially in terms of horror films.

As Brad Miska of Bloody Disgusting gushed, “Drag Me To Hell was quite simply the most perfect horror film I’ve seen in a long, long while. Raimi stirs a delicious witches brew that blends gore, scares and fun into a perfect blend.”

Land Of The Lost
On a much less impressive note this week we can’t forget about the box office bomb of the year, the remake of television’s Land Of The Lost.

Directed by Brad Silberling, who incidentally made City of Angels, the film stars Will Ferrell as wannabe scientist Dr. Rick Marshall, who dreams of a time travel device that no one believes he can create. Of course, one miraculous day Rick finds a way to build his device, which sends him through time to an alternate reality where past, present and future are all mashed together in one terrible mess. Between the dinosaurs, the alien creatures, and everything in between, Rick and his friends have to find a way to escape back to their own time, before they’re eaten by some horrific creature.

For those who remember the original, somewhat ridiculous series, the idea of a big screen remake is kind of ludicrous. The show had all the wit of exactly what it was, a series for kids, which makes Ferrel the perfect star since he seems to be drawn to the most infantile of humour.

When Ferrel is on, he’s great, but that’s usually only in the cases where there’s a director who can reign him in. Land of The Lost is just one of those disaster Ferrel vehicles where he’s simply driving on cruise control.

South Park Bigger, Longer, & Uncut [Blu-ray]
Get ready to feel old, South Park fans, because this year marks the 10th anniversary of South Park Bigger, Longer, & Uncut, and in honour of that event Paramount is releasing Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s lone hit film on Blu-ray.

Developed around the time of the show’s second season on television, Bigger, Longer, & Uncut was an unlikely home run for the series, especially since it features some of the most gratuitous use of swear words in the history of film; certainly in terms of animated films.

Although the creators admit on their own commentary track that the look of the series has improved greatly since 1999, there is also no missing the fact that Bigger, Longer, & Uncut is a hilarious, well-written comedy. Satirizing the politics and censorship of the day, the film is packed with jokes, references and asides that show just how clever South Park can be when it’s in overdrive, and not pulling any punches. The music and songs are also absolutely brilliant, and earned an Oscar nomination for Best Music, Original Song for the well-known song, “Blame Canada”.

This has always been one of my favorite animated films, and on Blu-ray it looks and sounds very good. There are few extras though, aside from the commentary track with Parker and Stone, and they really had a hard time coming up with enough to talk about. Their commentary is still quite funny, and very interesting, as they recap how they made the film, and all of the fights they had along to the way to make the film that they wanted, without compromising.

That lack of compromise certainly shows, making South Park Bigger, Longer, & Uncut a lot of fun to watch.

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