Indecent Proposal (1993) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski) and Tuna

This film generated a lot of discussion when it came out in '93. Many people thought that it was blatantly immoral, but everybody was talking about it one way or another. It was a mega success at the box office, both in the U.S. and abroad, although the current IMDb rtating is slipping down into the "dreadful" range

If you have forgotten, Demi Moore and Woody Harrelson (Woody Harrelson as an architect?) play a lovey-dovey couple down on their luck who get the chance of a lifetime when super gazillionaire Bob Redford steps into their lives and offers to pay a million dollars for one night with Demi.

This leads to the best scene in the movie - a comic relief scene in this altogether too serious film. Oliver Platt plays the couple's lawyer, and we see him in his office, making a pitch to a couple of guys who were disappointed at their last lawyer/agent, whom they deemed too soft. They are looking for an immoral man, a complete scumbag who will walk over his own grandmother for them. Before Platt can respond, he is interrupted by a call from Harrelson. The conversation goes something like this.

Woody: I need you to draw up a contract.

Oliver: What kind of a contract?

Woody: for Demi to spend one night with Bob Redford.

Oliver: you mean ....?

Woody: Yup, that's what I mean.

Oliver: and you agreed to that?

Woody: Yup

Oliver: How could you do such a thing?

(Pause. Now screaming frantically) How many times have I told you never to negotiate without your lawyer? She's hot. I could have gotten at least two million.

At this point, the two prospective clients are slinking meekly out of his office, and we think it's because they think he's a lunatic, or because he's ignoring them. He addresses them, and says that Woody is an old friend, and he has to get involved in this call, but asks them to please be patient and give him another chance. They respond, "you don't understand. There's no need to talk. You have the job. You are exactly the guy we're looking for."

Unfortunately, that scene was just about the only inspiration in the script. The rest was completely predictable pablum aimed at the young chick-flick audience.


Demi sleeps with Redford, not because she wanted to, but because she felt that they could use the million. The whole thing drives Woody nuts. Redford keeps trying to get back with Demi, and he finally succeeds when Woody pushes her away. They have a brief relationship, but Redford sees her talking to Woody and realizes, "she'll never look at me like she looked at him", so he sends her packing back to the Woodman, with everyone all the wiser.

I have no idea how the conclusion could have happened. Demi got out of Bob's limo, took a bus to a public pier, and Woody just happened to be there, moping his ass off. I know it was some kind of anniversary for them, and the pier was where they met, but c'mon!

Anyway, the whole thing was meant to be a lame chick-flick fairy tale, ala Pretty Woman. Those two films and Irma la Douce pretty much form the "prostitution is glamorous, fun, and a great adventure" sub-genre. 

Give me a break. How long did it take for her to decide to take a million for spending a night with the Sundance Kid? Make that millionaire Pete Postlethwaite or Rip Taylor or Abe Vigoda and let's see if she gets her ass into his bed for some glamorous prostitution.

Hey, if Redford wants to sleep with my wife for a million, I have only two things to say to her:

1. Remember to charge more if he wants extra stuff not in the contract.

2. Do a really good job, so he will want you again. In fact, get him to want you so much that we can raise the price next time.

Redford was kinda rich in this film.

 How rich was he, Scoop?

Well, his yacht not only had a helipad and a grand piano, but a live-in pilot and a live-in pianist. On the average, how many hours a day do you need a pianist to play "The Nearness of You". You know you're rich when you can keep a spare stateroom and pay the guy just for such occasions.


Demi Moore shows her breasts twice, in a sex scene on the floor, and in a bedroom talk. She also shows her buns ever-so-briefly in the lovemaking on the floor.
Of course, at Stately Scoopy Manor we have a live-in harpsichordist, and a live-in Ukrainian egg-painter. This is particularly extravagant, because we don't own a harpsichord, but he travels with us, in case we run into one. Hey, he can also play the clavichord, so it's like a two-for-one sale. You can never tell when you might want to hear a madrigal.

And we often get the urge for a dyed and painted Easter egg. Many folks think those eggs are just for Easter, but we get a kick out of them year round. If we're having people over for breakfast, little Janko might be up all night painting, so we have to have a room for him. And of course he earns his keep in other ways. I mean these guys don't just paint eggshells. He can paint almost any kind of food with a shell. Sometimes he gets a little sloppy with the lobsters, especially since they're still alive and moving around.

Hey, you can't paint 'em after they're boiled. By the time he'd finish with the Taj Mahal, the meat would be cold.

Back to the movie:

DVD info from Amazon.

  • widescreen anamorphic 1.85

  • full-length commentary by Adrian Lyme

Director Adrian Lyne is one of my favorites, a genius in expressing the human poetry of sadness and loneliness. He often frames his characters backlit, so that they appear to be mere ghostly silhouettes in the room. He films them in fog and rain, or in cavernous rooms, highlighting their feeling of isolation. He is very effective at conveying the impression that sex can make people more lonely, not less. I like the way he presents his material, the way he uses colored light and shadows. Jacob's Ladder is one of my favorite films, and I thought Lyne and his lead actor, Jeremy Irons, caught the inherent sadness in Lolita beautifully. Unfortunately, I'm not sure Lyne's poetic images were right for this sappy, lightweight movie, except to convey Redford's loneliness.

And I hated the vast amount of dual narration. (Woody would narrate, then Demi would take over)

Tuna's Thoughts

Indecent Proposal (1993) is a sappy romantic comedy based on the old saw that all women are whores, and all men are pimps, and it is only a matter of negotiating prices. Demi Moore and her two over-inflated friends play the whore, Woody Harrelson is the pimp, and Robert Redford is the John. Moore and Harrelson are happily married, but risked all of their money to buy land and build architect Harrelson's dream house. The housing market takes a slump, and the are in danger of losing everything, so they borrow cash from his father, and decide they will go to Vegas and turn the $5k into $50k. They do well the first night, but put it all back the second.

In probably the only good scene in the film, they are in a coffee shop, debating whether or not to risk their last $5k, which they had agreed not to do, or go home. A waitress is listening. They decide to flip a coin. Heads they stay, tails they go home. The waitress shakes her head to herself. The coin comes up tails, and they both say "2 out of 3" at the same instant. Satan, in the form of Robert Redford to the rescue. He offers them $1m for one night with Moore. Eventually, Moore and Harrelson agree, and even have their lawyer close the deal. Afterwards, Harrelson can't deal with it, and they split. The rest of the film is awfully predictable.

Not only did they try to make a film with a script based entirely on a bad joke, but, at least according to the credits, thought so little of the production that they had nobody doing continuity. The first scene in the film has the worst continuity error I have yet seen. Moore and Harrelson are having a spat over his leaving his dirty clothes all over the floor. She starts throwing things, and his shorts land on the stove next to a lit burner. This is the set-up to a joke. They end up making love on the floor as the shorts catch fire, and she says "Your pants are on fire." He replies, "Baby, you have no idea."  But when they are chasing each other around the kitchen, in between the shorts landing there and their lovemaking, the shorts on not on the stove. It wouldn't be quite as bad a mistake if that wasn't the entire point of the scene.

It won Razzies for Worst Picture, Worst Supporting Actor, and Worst Screenplay, and was nominated for 4 others. I am far too deficient in estrogen to find a way to enjoy this stinker, although there was some suspense wondering if Moore's store-bought hooters would pop. They looked way over-inflated each time we got a quick glimpse of them. C-.

The Critics Vote

  • General consensus: two and a half stars. Ebert 3/4, Berardinelli 2/4, Apollo 83/100

The People Vote ...

  • IMDB summary. IMDb voters score it 5.1/10, Apollo voters 79/100.

Female IMDB voters under 18 rate it 7.5. men 30-44 rate it 4.7. I think that tells you everything.

  • with their dollars: a big hit worldwide. $106.6m (USA) $160m (overseas)
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a C-. (Both reviewers) Unrealistic story, sappy ending. Nicely filmed, though, and Oliver Platt was great comic relief!

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