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Big-screen blind spot: 'Indecent Proposal'

Once in a while, a movie slips under your radar. For about, oh, 20 years. In 'Big-screen blind spot,' we sit down with those 'classic' movies everybody but us has seen and give them the nostalgia critic treatment.

Confession: Until now, I had never seen “Indecent Proposal,” the 1993 sexy-but-ew-wait-not-that-sexy drama starring Demi Moore and Woody Harrelson as tight-knit spouses in need of some quick cash to save their beloved dream house-in-progress and Robert Redford as the suave billionaire who offers them $1 million for one night alone with Moore.

Had I seen it in 1993 at the age of 5: My parents would have been pissed. Pissed. I got away with watching quite a lot on TV as a kid--my dad was really into Steven Seagal and Tom Clancy action thrillers and considered us watching them together bonding time--but steamy ‘90s sex on a waterbed with cash strewn about would certainly have gotten me awkwardly rushed off to my room for an early bedtime.

Now: Perhaps my expectations from the movie’s marketing and trailers were a little far-flung, but this is not a very sexy movie. I’m guessing a lot of people who ran to the theater to see this in 1993 with the intent of seeing some skin probably felt a little scammed, too. File it with the late ’80s, early ’90s sexual thriller boom of movies ... that kind of ended up being boner killers (“Fatal Attraction,” “Basic Instinct,” etc.). While I get that the scene needed to be set to establish the (hopefully) unbreakable bond between Diane (Moore) and David (Harrelson) before the relationship can be tested, the first third of the movie before the fateful rendezvous with John Gage (Redford) drags for too long and is way overstylized.

Hey, it’s the ’90s. I get it. Everything is oversized, baggy and eccentric. But is it really necessary to stretch the spin of a roulette table into a three-minute scene that ends with  Moore doing that biting-her-man’s-hand thing she does to show she’s upset? (I'm so glad movie studios have gotten over their puzzling fascination with gambling and casinos, by the way.) In the end, the fallout from the affair seemed so rushed that it made the rest of the movie play out fairly predictably and with way too many hands brushing against cheeks.

Must be noted: Billy Bob Thornton makes a cameo in the casino scene. How is it possible that he looked even creepier when he was younger than he does now? Also, Harrelson, gap tooth and all, looks incredible. Incredible. Redford, too, I guess.

Watch 'Indecent Proposal' on Netflix Instant.

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