The Bechdel Test: Indecent Proposal

I watched the movie Indecent Proposal for the first time in 22 years.

Oh dear.

So, Demi Moore and Woody Harrelson meet and get married and Woody’s an architect and Demi is “helping support them by selling real estate” and they buy a house then decide they need a second house and take out a loan for a house they can’t afford.

When the recession hits and they both lose their jobs, Demi sits on the toilet saying, “What are we gonna do?” and Woody’s like, “I’ll wait tables or drive a cab or something. I’ll take care of you,” and Demi’s like, “I’ll do the same thing! I’ll take care of you too!” except she doesn’t, she says, “Make it go away,” and stares blankly into space.

Woody borrows five thousand dollars from his dad and then he and Demi go to Las Vegas to gamble. On the first night, they turn the five thousand into $25,000 and on the second night they turn the $25,000 into zero.

And this is when billionaire Robert Redford swoops in. He sidles up to the couple and says, “Would you mind lending me your wife?”

Demi says, “Did you hear? Women can own property now and everything,” and strides away and the credits roll.


Oh no wait, Woody says, “It might be fun!” so Demi sits with Robert Redford as he gambles and she stares blankly into space.

Robert Redford wins a lot of money and invites the couple to a party in his room and when the three of them are alone he says, “I’ll give you a million for one night with your wife,” and Demi’s like, “Did you hear? Women can vote now,” and –

Okay, no, that night in bed with Woody, Demi says, “Would you LET me do it?” (and I wish I were making that up but I’m not) and Woody’s like, “What?” and Demi’s like, “It’s all for YOU! You could finish building the second house we don’t need because we already live in a perfectly good one!” and Woody’s like, “WHAT IS EVEN GOING ON,” but the next day Woody’s on the phone with his lawyer and drawing up a contract in a scene that lasts approximately twenty seven minutes of screen time, and the lawyer, incidentally, has twice as many lines as A-list actress Demi Moore.

That night, on Robert Redford’s yacht, Demi and Robert smooch as the Haunting Love Theme Of Having Sex With A Stranger For Money plays.


When Woody and Demi fly home, one million dollars in hand, they immediately go to pay the arrears on their second (SECOND) house. Robert Redford’s already bought it. Demi stares blankly at the bank manager as Woody screams and throws things.

Demi secretly meets with Robert Redford to try and fail to get the land back and when Woody finds out he screams some more and throws more things. That man is such a prize!

Woody moves out. Demi’s at her real estate job when Robert Redford shows up and is like, “I’m a billionaire and I’ll only buy a house from Demi Moore,” and then when she doesn’t want to do it her boss says he’ll fire her if she doesn’t and she so she gets in Robert Redford’s limo.

He calls her beautiful and takes her to his house, pretending he wants to buy it (Lying AND stalking? How can this guy be single?) and asks what she thinks and she’s like “your dumb house needs a dog” and stomps out.

Demi gets a second job teaching citizenship “just to keep busy” (hey Demi, where was that “I guess I’ll just get a second job” when you were sitting on the toilet all “MAKE IT GO AWAY”) and Robert Redford shows up in her classroom. She tells him to leave and he pretends to, then just walks into the back of the classroom and starts talking to the students, all, “Isn’t she beautiful?”

He waits for her to get off work (this is sounding more and more like a list of events in a restraining order case) and ushers her into his limo (she stares blankly out the window) and when they get to his house he shows her the two dogs he bought and he calls her beautiful (yes really) and then tells her this story:

“One time when I was a teenager I saw this girl on the subway and she was (YOU GUESSED IT) beautiful and I wanted to -”

You know what? Let me just take a moment and ask, what if everyone was suddenly struck blind and you couldn’t tell what anybody looked like? I’m pretty sure Robert Redford would immediately hang himself.

Anyway. “I wanted to say something to the girl on the subway but I didn’t and that’s why I paid a million dollars to have sex with you.”

This is SO romantic that Demi Moore immediately has sex with him again. True love.

A few months later Woody, so drunk he can hardly stand, accosts the two of them as they get out of the limo. (How is she going to choose between these two DREAMBOATS?) Woody calls Demi “beautiful” and eventually trips and falls on the sidewalk and Robert Redford and Demi Moore leave him lying there.

Woody gets a small apartment (something they could have done instead of going to Vegas) and a new job (something they could have done instead of going to Vegas) and sits going through pictures of (beautiful) buildings using a slide projector and a white sheet. When he gets to the slide of Demi laughing the music swells and the 2015 version of this scene is Woody sitting on the toilet looking through a photo gallery on his iPhone, which is, um, less compelling.

And then the lawyer shows up and says Demi wants a divorce and Woody can have the million dollars.

Meanwhile, Robert Redford and Demi are at a zoo fundraiser bidding on a hippopotamous. Just as the bidding is about to end, Woody shows up and bids a million dollars. Demi stares blankly. Woody signs the divorce papers on the table and leaves as Robert Redford watches from afar.

On the way home in the limo, Robert Redford makes up a story about how he pays women to have sex with him all the time and Demi says thank you for making up the story (why does she think he made it up, I found it completely believable) and gets out of the limo.

Eventually she gets her own small apartment and applies and gets into Harvard Law, where she minors in Women’s Studies and eventually begins a non-profit law firm that helps victims of human trafficking.


She goes back to Woody.

Does this movie pass the Bechdel Test? Well, since the test involves two women having a conversation before you even get into what they’re talking about, it fails before it even writes its name on the test sheet.

And here’s the thing, screenwriter Amy Holden Jones. If you can replace the heroine with an Xbox 360 and the movie stays exactly the same (“Would you mind lending me your beautiful Xbox?” “Xbox, you love Robert Redford more than me!” “Xbox stares blankly.” “Take it! *sob sob* The Xbox was yours even when it was at my house!”) then you might want to re-think your attitudes about women. Especially the one you see in the mirror every day.