Video Verdict: ‘The Proposal,’ ‘Drag Me to Hell,’ ‘Land of the Lost’

Ryan Reynolds, left, and Sandra Bullock star in the new romantic comedy "The Proposal."

Ryan Reynolds, left, and Sandra Bullock star in the new romantic comedy "The Proposal."

This week’s DVD releases are anchored by comedies, including one that features Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds as a most unlikely couple.


The Proposal
2 1/2 stars (out of four)
Rated PG-13 for sexual content, nudity and language
Touchstone Entertainment
Available on: DVD and Blu-ray

Margaret (Sandra Bullock) is an abrasive and controlling Canadian book editor working for an American company. Andrew (Ryan Reynolds) is her long-suffering assistant. When Margaret learns that she is about to be deported and lose her job in the process, she announces that she and Andrew are to wed, making her a U.S. citizen.

Initially, Andrew is mortified, but then he realizes that a sham wedding could help his career. Of course, things get complicated during a trip to Alaska where Andrew plans to announce their upcoming nuptials to his family. Even worse: a skeptical immigration agent takes a special interest in their case.

Reynolds is so charming that he makes every movie better, but he can only do so much with “The Proposal’s” highly unlikely plotting. The biggest problem is that Margaret is depicted as such a witch from the outset that it’s hard to imagine her transition to a romantic leading role. Nevertheless, the transition occurs, leaving viewers to try and reconcile her two personalities.

DVD extras include an alternate ending, deleted scenes, outtakes and an audio commentary by director Anne Fletcher and writer Peter Chiarelli.

Drag Me to Hell
3 stars
DVD contains rated and unrated versions of the film. The rated version received a PG-13 for sequences of horror violence, terror, disturbing images and language
Universal
Available on: DVD and Blu-ray

Last year, writer-director Sam Raimi temporarily abandoned his superheroics with the “Spiderman” franchise for a return to his horror roots. The result was “Drag Me to Hell,” a quirky and enjoyable fright flick that is engaging despite several ridiculously over-the-top sequences.

Truth told, the movie’s more radical moments actually add to its charm, reminding us that we’re watching a movie but never removing us from the simple-yet-intriguing story. Alison Lohman stars as Christine Brown, a sweet loan officer lobbying for a promotion at the bank where she works. After her boss implies that she may not be tough enough to progress in the industry, Christine decides to prove him wrong by evicting an elderly woman (Lorna Raver) from her home. In return, the woman places a curse on Christine, leaving her only three days to make piece with a dark spirit or head straight to Hell.

Lohman is terrific in the leading role, and her portrayal of Christine offers a human element to the outlandish plotting. Justin Long (yes, the Mac computer guy) also delivers a nice performance as Christine’s doting boyfriend, and Raver is outstanding as Christine’s troubled and demented adversary.

Bottom line: “Drag Me to Hell” is a great choice for anyone looking to get into the Halloween spirit early.

DVD and Blu-ray releases include an unrated director’s cut of the film and the original theatrical release. Other special features include video production diaries.

Land of the Lost
1 1/2 stars
Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content, and for language including a drug reference
Universal
Available on: DVD and Blu-ray

Director Brad Silberling’s big screen update of the 1970s “Land of the Lost” TV series has better production value than its inspiration, but that’s where the improvements end.

This ill-conceived movie version stars Will Ferrell as Dr. Rick Marshall, a scientist who has become a laughing stock thanks to his public speculation about time warps. He has all but given up on his career when a young colleague named Holly (Ana Friel) convinces him to resume work on a device called a tachyon amplifier.

During what was supposed to be a short outdoor expedition, Marshall’s amplifier ends up propelling them — and a working-class tour guide named Will (Danny McBride) — into an alternate dimension filled with dinosaurs and other strange creatures. The three heroes spend the rest of the film trying to get back to our world, aided by an ape-like creature named Chaka and tormented by the dinosaurs and menacing beings called Sleestaks.

Ferrell and McBride are funny men, but the “Lost” script isn’t as good as they are. The movie is also inconsistent in tone, as much of the humor is silly and juvenile but there are enough sex gags to render it inappropriate for young children. “Land of the Lost” indeed.

DVD extras include deleted scenes and a couple featurettes about the movie.

ALSO OUT THIS WEEK

“Every Little Step”: Documentary film following a collection of hoofers through the audition process for a Broadway revival of “A Chorus Line.” As a sidebar, the movie also includes interviews with many of the people involved in the original production.

“Futurama” — The Complete Collection 1999-2009: Massive, 19-disc set including all 72 episodes of the animated “Futurama” television series, plus the franchise’s four feature-length movies. The only downside is the price, as the set retails for $199.98.

“Adoration”: This drama delves into the gray area between right and wrong. Simon, a high school boy, writes a story for his French class claiming his father was a terrorist. Not only does he turn his assignment in, he posts it on the internet, creating a stir.

Marvel Animation — 6 Film Gift Set: An impressive collection of Marvel animated movies. Included are: “Ultimate Avengers: The Movie,” “Ultimate Avengers 2,” “Doctor Strange,” “The Invincible Iron Man,” “Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow,” and “Hulk VS.” In addition to the full-length animated features, DVD extras include games, trivia, concept art, and a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of the stories.

“Flashpoint” — The First Season: Police drama about an elite tactical team that tackles extreme crime situations.

“Girlfriends” — The Seventh Season: Comedy examining the lives and friendships of three professional black women living in Los Angeles. This season, the ladies realize the more things change, the more they stay the same.

“Legend of the Seeker” — The Complete First Season: This fantasy adventure series is based on the “Sword of Truth” novels by Terry Goodkind. The October DVD release offers plenty of time to get caught up on the action before season two premiers in November.

“New World Order”: Documentary about conspiracy theorists and why they believe what they do. The film delves into some of our country’s biggest tragedies and looks into the views of the underground movement.

Forrest Hartman is an independent film critic whose byline has appeared in some of the nation’s largest publications. E-mail him at Forrest@ForrestHartman.com

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3 Comments

Filed under Video Verdict

3 responses to “Video Verdict: ‘The Proposal,’ ‘Drag Me to Hell,’ ‘Land of the Lost’

  1. I agree with your take on “The Proposal.” Character inconsistencies were a major flaw. Betty White’s character morphed from grandmotherly to bizarre whenever it suited the plot. (Remember the forest scene? What was that all about?)

    Anyway, from the standpoint of someone who saw the film against his will, I thought I’d toss in my two cents. (I wanted to watch something else — anything else — but I was overruled.)

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  2. Forrest Hartman

    Excellent point about Betty White. I didn’t address that in the review, but her character did have inconsistencies as well. I didn’t hate the film, but it’s one of those movies that is clearly “scripted.” You could almost see the screenwriter’s mind at work on certain scenes.

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  3. Jesse is a genuine jerk to cheat on someone so kind and superb as Sandra. What goes around comes around!

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