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Paramount Studios presents
"Never negotiate without your lawyer! Never! For a woman like Diana I'd have gotten you at least 2 million!"
DVD ReviewIf a billionaire offered you one million dollars to sleep with your wife, would you agree to it? If the person looked as striking as Robert Redford, would that change her mind? This moral quandary generates the oddball premise of Indecent Proposal—an over-hyped morality play that never bothers to delve beneath the surface of this issue. Instead, we must watch an extremely dull soap opera that oozes with melodrama. The plot device merely serves as a gimmick to draw hordes of audiences to view attractive stars in various states of distress. The screenplay lacks depth or emotions, and the supposedly startling revelations can be deciphered long before they appear on screen.
David and Diana Murphy (Woody Harrelson, Demi Moore) are the happy couple who eloped at a young age and have stayed together ever since. David is an architect who spends his free time crafting the designs of his dream house. To fulfill his vision, they take a chance and borrow money to create this strange monstrosity. The film treats David like a talented architect, but this house does not live up to expectations. Unfortunately, a recession hits hard, and they must face the dire possibility of losing the house. With only $5,000 in hand, the naïve couple travels to Las Vegas with the idealistic goals of winning enough money to pay off all their debts. Their depressing financial state gives more leverage to the million-dollar offer from John Gage (Redford), a sharp-dressed man who throws around money like it grows on trees.
Demi Moore plays the striking Diana as a bright-eyed girl who completely adores her struggling husband. She utters horrible statements like "Have I ever told you that I love you?" with a complete lack of conviction that weakens the already poor material; her role in this story is to look stunning and speak in clicés. The worst offense occurs in the voice-over narration, which adds little to the plot and sounds especially awkward. From the first few laugh-inducing statements, it becomes difficult to take any of these lines seriously. In terms of looking beautiful, Moore succeeds on every level, but her character's depth leaves something to be desired.
Robert Redford does provide a charming presence as the suave, unbelievably rich man with plans to charm Demi Moore away. He remains virtually unflappable within all situations, including one where Diane enters a chic restaurant and throws food all over his wealthy business partners. However, there's little reality to his character beyond the style and money. Why is this man who could have millions of women across the world so enamored with Diane? Gage tries to explain his intentions with a sad story from the past, but it still leaves us wanting to know more about him. Redford gives his best effort within the confines of the screenplay, and few could play this part better, but he's limited by the simplicity of the role. Sadly, Woody Harrelson fares much worse as the jealous husband who basically throws his wife into Gage's arms. The film seems to relish making David as dull as is humanly possible, and nothing interesting appears to be going on inside his head.
Indecent Proposal grossed over 100 million dollars in the United States alone — largely due to Redford and Moore's box office power. Also, the tease of an intriguing morality play lured audiences who expected more complex fare. Instead, they received this irritating soap-opera-level story that equally insults the intelligence of the viewers and the film's characters. Although the situation is different, the plot actually follows the "boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy wins girl back" formula that has been played to death over the years. Director Adrian Lyne (Fatal Attraction, Lolita) has done some risky material before, but nothing here moves beyond the expected conventions. A few quick love scenes appear early on and promise a steamier movie, but they disappear quickly once the plot takes center stage. Instead, we're left with a simplistic creation filled with far too many monotonous situations.
Rating for Style: C-
Rating for Substance: C-
Image Transfer Review: Indecent Proposal includes a decent 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that presents the images in a clear fashion. Several moments stand out for impressive sharpness, especially the scenes in Redford's gigantic home. Few defects exist on this picture, and the black levels remain solid throughout the film. Some grain does appear intermittently, but it's not a problem for more than a few seconds. A majority of this presentation is easily watchable, but it does not contain the pristine shots of the best digital transfers. Still, this is a worthy effort from Paramount and they deserve some praise.
Image Transfer Grade: B+
Audio Transfer Review: A slow, melodic score exists during much of this picture and helps to push the romantic atmosphere. This disc utilizes an effective 5.1-channel Dolby Digital transfer that presents this music clearly and with significant power. The dialogue is all easily understandable, and there is a fair amount of depth within this track. Much of this story involves lengthy conversations, so the amount of audio inventiveness available here is limited. However, this transfer works nicely to present the story on an overall scale.
Audio Transfer Grade: B+
Disc ExtrasFull Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Director Adrian Lyne
Extras Review: The lone supplement on this disc is a feature-length commentary with director Adrian Lyne. This track is not very interesting, but this problem stems more from the dull nature of the film than anything he says. Lyne does provide some nice tidbits, including the quiet hush that would overcome the set every day when Redford arrived. There are a few too many pauses, and his words sometimes stray too much into the "Demi Moore is so beautiful" type of comments, but it remains mildly entertaining. Fans of this movie will probably enjoy this feature, but it offers little for detractors who have no interest in watching this picture again.
Extras Grade: C
Final CommentsUpon its original release, Indecent Proposal engaged audiences in a "Would I sleep with Robert Redford for a million dollars?" discussion that made it a popular filmgoing choice. While this topic does provide for some silly conversations when out to dinner, it does not lead to an interesting movie. In actuality, this is the worst type of star vehicle—a story lacking invention but too serious to work as enjoyable low-brow fare.
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