Tycoon Tom Arnold sends employee and all-signs-point-to-being-future-son-in-law David O’Donnell and daughter Sarah Thompson (a ghastly person who is clearly Ms Wrong) to O’Donnell’s home town in order to seal a real estate development deal. There O’Donnell comes up against former flame Nicole Eggert, who is fighting to preserve the town’s pristine self. And yes, all of this is happening over the Christmas holiday, though it could just as well be the Fourth of July. At any rate, based on this setup, if there is a single one among you who can’t anticipate every single turn of the story, allow me to be among the first to welcome you to the planet Earth.
Let’s face it, though everybody and his monkey’s uncle seems to have a Christmas movie up a sleeve, the form is actually murderously hard to do well. Think about it: how many really good Christmas movies are there out there? It’s a Wonderful Life (1946). The 1951 version of A Christmas Carol. Director Bob Clark has given us two, though I can understand why most people prefer his A Christmas Story (1983) at this time of the year to Black Christmas (1974). Since A Christmas Story, I would argue that we have had precisely one new classic, and that is Elf (2003). All of which is to say that A Christmas Proposal is not a classic. It has all the life, zing and comedic timing of a dead fish. The closest it comes to having a glimmer of life is when Tom Arnold is (briefly) on the screen, and when your high point would be considered the low point in just about any other movie, you are in serious trouble.
The picture is perfectly watchable, but it is also extremely boring. TV doesn’t have to look dull – there are plenty of very exciting looking productions out there on the small screen, but this is exactly what people think of when they think TV looks bland. The transfer and the cinematography are a good match – uninspired assembly-line stuff. The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen picture is inoffensive (colours are okay, grain isn’t distracting), but it doesn’t exactly compel the eye.
Both 2.0 and 5.1 options are present, but neither is going to excite you. The rear speakers pipe up now and then with some sound effect cues to remind us that they’re still plugged in, but the experience is hardly immersive. The music and dialogue sound thin, and Arnold in particular seems to be broadcasting from a location with poor radio reception.
This is a busy time of year. Shouldn’t you be doing your last-minute shopping or present wrapping? All done? Then there’s drying paint to be watched before you turn to this shameless, depressing bit of Xmasploitation.