Monday, June 15, 2009

Movie Review: The Proposal

The Proposal ** ½
Directed by:
Anne Fletcher.
Written By: Pete Chiarelli.
Starring: Sandra Bullock (Margaret Tate), Ryan Reynolds (Andrew Paxton), Mary Steenburgen (Grace Paxton), Craig T. Nelson (Joe Paxton), Betty White (Grandma Annie), Denis O'Hare (Mr. Gilbertson), Malin Akerman (Gertrude), Oscar Nuñez (Ramone), Aasif Mandvi (Bob Spaulding).

Without the charms of the two leading actors, there really is not anything to like about The Proposal. It is a standard issue romantic comedy, where the two leads start out hating each other, but then through circumstances beyond their control, they end up falling in love. It is full of eccentric supporting characters, and a seemingly perfect old flame that everyone thinks the leading man should be with, except the leading man of course, and every other cliché in the book. That it comes so close to working is do almost exclusively to the charm of Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds as the couple in question. They have great chemistry together, and play their roles to the hilt.

Bullock stars as Margaret Tate, one of those career women romantic comedies love to have as its heroine, who is all work and no play. She is the editor in chief at a huge book company (because all romantic comedies have to take place either in the publishing or TV worlds) who scares the entire staff, including her assistant Andrew Paxton (Ryan Reynolds), who has been trying to move into an editors position for years. But when Margaret gets in trouble with immigration (she’s Canadian, and apparently does not have all the proper paper work), she needs to marry an American soon, or be deported. Andrew agrees to help her out, if he gets the promotion she has promised him. The one problem is that immigration doesn’t believe they are a real couple, and plan an extensive interview with all of their family and co-workers. Not a problem for Margaret, as she has no family, but a big problem for Andrew, as he has a large family back in Alaska. So, off the couple go to Alaska to try and pull one over on the family’s eyes.

You know what is coming, even if you have never seen a movie before. The couple will spend the first part of the movie arguing and bickering, and playing tricks on each other. They will slowly soften, let their guards down, and let the other person see who they really are. There will be tearful confessions, and dramatic speeches, and misunderstanding, and more dramatic speeches. You get the drill. The Proposal hits all of those bases – some of them more than once – and any other cliché you can think of.

Yet, the movie is surprisingly entertaining at times. Bullock is a natural at romantic comedies like this. I am even tempted to say that currently there is no one better in these types of roles than she is. Sure, she has made her share of bad romantic comedies, but more often than not, she’s quite good in them – even if nothing else around her is that good. It’s sad to think that she has reached the upper limit of the age range that will allow her to do these types of roles. Soon, they’ll all go to Katherine Heigl. In Ryan Reynolds, Bullock has found the rare co-star who can match her in a movie like this. He is equally charming and funny, and unlike many male leads in romantic comedies, he doesn’t simply sleepwalk through a role he finds beneath him – he really goes all out. The supporting cast – including Mary Steenburgen, Craig T. Nelson, Betty White, Malin Akerman and The Office’s Oscar Nunez – have fun in their essentially meaningless roles.

More and more with romantic comedies though, I find myself wishing that the film did something other than simply play by the rules. I find it hard to believe that people who are fans of the genre are not going to like this movie – it is too charming to actively dislike it after all, and it delivers on its promise of a standard issue romcom. But for me, it’s just not really enough anymore. If you’ve seen one romantic comedy, you’ve seen them all.

No comments:

Post a Comment