- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Proposal (Touchstone, $29.99 for DVD, $39.99 for two-disc DVD, $44.99 for Blu-ray) — “The Proposal” is the film that knocked “The Hangover” out of the top spot in June — and reignited Sandra Bullock’s career, which had been stalled after flops like 2007’s “Premonition.”

Miss Bullock, 45, is paired in this sprightly romantic comedy with Ryan Reynolds, 32. Margaret’s the boss-from-hell, the highly successful head of a publishing imprint, while Andrew’s her much put-upon assistant.

He starts to gain the upper hand when she’s told she’s about to be deported — back to Canada (the horror!). She persuades him to save both their careers by marrying her. They travel from New York to Alaska to break the news to his parents — and celebrate Gammy’s 90th birthday (Betty White, in a hilariously sly performance).

There aren’t too many surprises here — once you learn a new dog can’t go outside, you know Margaret will accidentally let him out. The real chemistry between the two leads is so palpable, though, they make every cliche believable.

There’s some sharp dialogue, too, as when they practice being quizzed by immigration authorities. “What am I allergic to?” Margaret asks. “Pinenuts. And the full spectrum of human emotion,” Andrew responds. There’s no question Miss Bullock has mastered the romantic comedy — though she deserves more meaty roles like the one she had in the ensemble “Crash” — but Mr. Reynolds also displays the combination of talent and looks needed for superstardom, too.

The two-disc DVD and Blu-ray editions include deleted scenes (the Blu-ray has a few more), outtakes and a commentary with director Anne Fletcher and writer Peter Chiarelli. The alternate ending can also be watched with or without commentary. The pair give very astute reasons why they changed the ending, though the original one did feature the very funny Niecy Nash. The scrapped ending is also the one to suggest there might be some culture clash between a Canadian and an American — it’s too bad the film didn’t spend a little less time on the stereotypical attacking pet and more time mining this for laughs.

Every Little Step (Sony, $28.96) — You don’t need to have been in — or even love — “A Chorus Line” to love “Every Little Step,” though it might seem so at first glance. The documentary is about a group of dancers auditioning for a Broadway musical about a group of dancers auditioning for a Broadway musical — talk about inside baseball. But it’s so filled with yearning it’s impossible not to relate to the human drama it chronicles and be touched by it.

Adam Del Deo and James D. Stern’s film intertwines the stories of the original dancers of the 1976 Pulitzer Prize-winning musical with the stories of the younger dancers trying out for the 2006 revival. The late Michael Bennett, “A Chorus Line” director and co-choreographer, had a stroke of genius when he realized the lives of the dancers he knew were interesting enough to make a musical. The taste we get of the lives of those younger dancers suggests the same about them — but unfortunately, we do get only a taste.

Extras include almost 40 minutes of deleted scenes — including more archival footage of Mr. Bennett — and conversations with those involved in the original and the revival, including original cast member Donna McKechnie, who was briefly married to Mr. Bennett, a graceful and stylish dancer as well as a choreographer. There’s also a commentary with Mr. Stern, Mr. Del Deo and “A Chorus Line” composer Marvin Hamlisch.

Stop Making Sense (Vivendi, $34.99 for Blu-ray) — “Stop Making Sense” is widely regarded as one of the best concert films ever made. It’s certainly one of the most exciting — thanks to the energetic performance of Talking Heads, whose three-night stand at Hollywood’s Pantages Theater in Dec. 1983 was captured by Jonathan Demme, now better known as the director of “The Silence of the Lambs.” The iconic film — which gave us the memorable image of frontman David Byrne in an oversized business suit — is being released on Blu-ray for the first time on its 25th anniversary.

Many critics argue the band was actually at their peak on the 1982 double live album “The Name of This Band Is Talking Heads,” recorded in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. But they still sound awfully good here, and now that the film is on Blu-ray, you can hear the band better than ever before.

The film features an innovative opening sequence. Mr. Byrne comes out by himself to perform “Psycho Killer” — with its alternately melodic and staccato lines and clever lyrics, a perfect example of the sui generis nature of Talking Heads — and for each successive song, he’s joined by one more member of the band. In all, they do 16 songs, and the viewer gets to see them simply as they were performed, without the distraction of manipulative shots of the audience. (Mr. Byrne was very much a collaborator in the film’s tone, as seen on an extra here with storyboards he made for the tour.)

All the extras from the original 1999 DVD release of the film are here, including the bonus songs “Cities” and “Big Business/I Zimbra,” and commentary from all four band members and Mr. Demme. New material here includes an hour-long press conference the band did in 1999 to mark the film’s 15th anniversary and theatrical re-release.

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