Top 5… Movie Proposals

Earlier this week, I discovered I was going to become a brother-in-law, as my sister’s former-boyfriend-now-fiance finally popped the question atop Edinburgh castle. My tribute to them (congratulations Rachel and Sparrow!) is this little rundown of the top proposals in the movies. I’d also like to give a special mention to this video here, which had it appeared in a film would probably be on my list. Anyway, it turns out that a majority of movie proposals happen in rom-coms (I was shocked too), most of which I unfortunately (or fortunately?) haven’t seen, so this is list is far from complete. Just like all my other Top 5s really. Oh, and not all of these are strictly proposal scenes, but that’s the general gist, so let me off on a couple, OK?
5. When Harry Met Sally
In my brief research, this scene topped most people’s lists, and indeed it was one of the first I thought of, but in fact it’s not actually a proposal scene. Yes, Harry (Billy Crystal) tells his longtime friend/enemy/mixture of the two Sally (Meg Ryan) that “When you want to spend the rest of your life with someone, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible,” but at no point in this scene is this topic of marriage ever brought up. Still, it;s undeniably an incredible scene, as Harry has just raced to find Sally at a New Year’s Eve party to declare his love for her, particularly her time-inducing meal-ordering abilities. It’s the perfect climax to one of the, if not the greatest romantic comedy in history, as it was obvious from the start that the two would end up together, so when it finally happens – in the typical love/hate style their relationship embodies – you cannot help but feel a warmth flooding through your heart.
4. The Wedding Singer
Also not technically a proposal, more of a making-up-and-getting-back-together scene between formerly depressed wedding singer Robbie Hart (Adam Sandler) and waitress Julia Sullivan (Drew Barrymore), who was previously intent on eloping with a man who is frankly a dick. Fortunately, Robbie invades their airplane and, with the help of the flight crew and Billy Idol, serenades his love, convincing her to come back to him. I love this proposal because he wrote a song for her, and because in the song he agrees to that greatest of sacrifices, letting her hold the remote control.
3. Knocked Up
Ah-ha! A wedding proposal! At last! Although it isn’t the most successful in the history of cinema, it is still incredibly sweet, when Ben (Seth Rogen) proposes to the accidentally impregnated Allison (Katherine Heigl). The only problem is, Ben’s a down-on-his-luck pornographic website creator, who has been living off an insurance claim for a long time, and had no plans of changing his predicament in the near future, so he can’t exactly afford a ring. This doesn’t stop him from proposing with an empty box however, and a promise that he will one day fill the box, with a beautiful ring he has already picked out. It’s all very touching, but unfortunately Allison let’s Ben down as gently as she can, and the whole sweetness is ruined a little by the next scene, where Allison’s sister Debbie (Leslie Mann) informs her sister that it all sounds a bit stupid.
2. Walk the Line
When Johnny Cash (Joaquin Phoenix) invites June Carter (Reese Witherspoon) to join him in a duet of Jackson on stage, his ulterior motives are soon made clear when he refuses to finish the song until she agrees to marry him. This is placed so highly on the list because, well, Phoenix looks really quite insane in the role, so the fact that he convinces her to consent is pretty damn impressive. Phoenix and Witherspoon are both great in the film, particularly when it comes to the singing (I’m a bit of a Johnny Cash fan, and their rendition of Jackson is pretty spot on), but at times Phoenix does make Cash look a bit like a deranged lunatic, and none for so than when he’s waiting for Carter to agree to his proposal. I also love how the band never stops playing the backing music to the song throughout the lyrical silence, and I would have loved it if, after Carter’s agreement that yes, she will marry Johnny, the two jumped immediately back into song exactly where they left off, but I suppose their shared kiss and long embrace, as he picks up her diminutive figure and spins her around the stage, is both more romantic and realistic.
1. Love, Actually
Yes, it’s soppy, saccharine and a bit meandering at times, but I love this film, if only for the incredible cast (Bill Nighy, Liam Neeson and Alan Rickman? Hell yes). Surprisingly for such a multi-stranded love film, as far as I’m aware there’s only one proposal in the film, and it’s top of the list because the groom-to-be (Colin Firth’s writer Jamie) learns Portuguese to propose to his housekeeper Aurelia (Lucia Moniz), and does so in front of not just a restaurant full of people staring intently at him, but most of her family and the inhabitants of her entire village as well. Plus, Jamie hasn’t quite mastered the new language yet, so he asks in his broken Portuguese for her to marriage him, and that they can either inhabit there, or she can inhabit with him in England. And of course, to top it all of, Jamie discovers that Aurelia has been learning English too, presumably with the intention of one day tracking him down and asking him to marriage her.

Worst: American Pie 3: The Wedding
There were a lot of contenders for the title of worst movie proposal. I was tempted to go with The Bachelor (“Sh*t or get off the pot”) or High Fidelity (“I’m gonna talk to you about whether… or not… you wanna get married to me”), and of course there’s one of my least favourite scenes in any otherwise decent movie, the rain-soaked finale to Four Weddings and a Funeral (“Is it still raining? I hadn’t noticed”), but I settled in the end for the franchise currently holding the awkward scenarios crown, American Pie. Jim (Jason Biggs) has taken his long-time girlfriend Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) out to dinner at a fancy restaurant, with every intention of popping the question. There’s only one problem – he’s forgotten the ring, but help is on the way in the form of Jim’s Dad (Eugene Levy, the series’ saviour), who gallantly shows up with the ring, but unfortunately it’s just at the moment when Michelle has slipped under the table to attend to Jim in a manner generally frowned upon in public places. It all comes to a head (pun intended) when Jim’s Dad starts to discuss his son popping the question, and Michelle hears it, banging her head on the underside of the table in surprise, and causing Jim’s Dad to attempt to prise Jim from the table, thereby exposing himself to the entirety of the restaurant. This is probably one of the better scenes from the American Pie films I’ve seen (the rest of the third film is largely forgettable, other than Stifler (Seann William Scott) at one point purposefully eating a dog turd), and it’s really capped off my Eugene Levy’s performance, and his unintentional double entendres (“I hope you didn’t blow your wad on this”).
Haven’t Seen
Gone with the Wind
His Girl Friday
Twilight: Eclipse
Runaway Bride
While You Were Sleeping
Pride & Prejudice
The Proposal
Love Story
The Five Year Engagement
He’s Just Not That Into You
Sweet Home Alabama
So did I miss anything out? Are there any on the ‘Haven’t Seen’ list that are worth checking out? I’ll get to Gone With the Wind and His Girl Friday fairly soon, they’re on some other lists I’m working through, but what about the rest?

2 thoughts on “Top 5… Movie Proposals

  1. I can't disagree with your number 1 best. It's a great scene. All but one of your choices are from romantic comedies. Among romantic dramas I would recommend the second proposal from the 2005 version of Pride & Prejudice (although it falls into the "technically not an explicit proposal" category.) It's still a great scene.By the way, check out this real proposal in a movie theater:

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