Saturday, December 26, 2009

Tonight's Movie: The Proposal (2009)

THE PROPOSAL is a flawed but fun romantic comedy starring the ever-reliable Sandra Bullock.

Margaret (Bullock) is a book editor whose whole life is her career. She seemingly delights in intimidating other employees -- think Meryl Streep in THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA (2006) -- and expects her assistant Andrew (Ryan Reynolds) to forget he has a personal life as well.

Margaret's career may crash to a screeching halt when she is threatened with deportation to her native Canada. Her solution to the problem is a quickie marriage to Andrew, who agrees for reasons of his own.

The couple fly to Andrew's hometown in Alaska, where life is as far removed from Manhattan as can be, in order to announce their engagement to Andrew's family. Andrew's mother (Mary Steenburgen) and grandmother (Betty White) are thrilled, while his father (Craig T. Nelson) is skeptical. Meanwhile an immigration agent (Denis O'Hare) is watching Margaret and Andrew's every move, looking for evidence that they are planning a fraudulent marriage.

The movie starts out with great promise and a number of extremely funny moments. The initial scenes are fast-paced and have excellent dialogue.

The film's relocation to Alaska has pros and cons; the setting is beautiful and Andrew's family are interesting -- Steenburgen is particularly charming -- but at this point the film also gets sillier and the pace slows down a bit too much. A side note, coastal Massachusetts, including Rockport, stands in for Alaska.

The film's Alaska scenes borrow heavily from Bullock's own WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING (1995), once again tossing a lonely woman who isn't what she appears to be into the bosom of a loving extended family. The wedding scene is recycled fairly closely from the earlier movie, and THE PROPOSAL also borrows the device of needing to protect a grandmother with a heart condition from surprising news.

Unfortunately the film departs from emulating WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING with two completely unnecessary scenes with nearly naked people running around. The scenes were tiresome and added nothing whatsoever to the story, as evidenced by the fact I fast-forwarded through them and didn't miss a single plot development. These sequences were supposed to be funny but the humor escaped me. The film is rated PG-13 but I would not be comfortable with my 14-year-old watching the first scene, in particular.

I also could have done without the silliness of Betty White's character beating drums and communing with nature in the woods, and Ramone (Oscar Nunez) didn't strike me as funny, particularly in his first appearance. On the other hand, the film would have benefited from Andrew and Margaret having more screen time alone together in order to more deeply develop their relationship. If these additions and subtractions had been made I feel the film would have been much stronger.

That said, I had a fun time watching the film and found much to enjoy. Bullock and Reynolds have good comic timing -- the "announcement" scene to Margaret's superiors had me laughing out loud -- and the supporting cast members are always enjoyable. It's a pleasant film, and its strongest moments are very good indeed.

THE PROPOSAL runs 108 minutes and was directed by Anne Fletcher, who also directed 27 DRESSES (2008). Malin Akerman, who played the "bridezilla" sister in 27 DRESSES, plays Andrew's ex-girlfriend Gertrude in THE PROPOSAL.

THE PROPOSAL is available on DVD in a widescreen single-disc or two-disc edition; the two-disc edition also includes a digital copy.

Extras in the two-disc edition include an interesting alternate ending, deleted scenes, and a commentary track.


Blogger Tom said...

I was debating on whether or not to watch this; might check it out after all. Your review has been helpful, thanks.

7:50 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

I'm glad it was helpful, Tom. I'd enjoy knowing what you think when you get the chance to see it yourself.

Best wishes,

7:53 PM  
Blogger Evangeline Holland said...

I did not like this movie on iota, so much so, that I must repeat my review from IMDB:
This wasn't the worst film I've seen, but it ranks up there as the dullest. Okay, all rom coms made within the last fifteen years have recycled characters, jokes, plots, etc, but for a movie that was such a big hit, I expected something more...original. Or at least original within the frame of a romantic comedy. Instead, the film would be plodding, trite and cliched even if it weren't a romantic comedy.

1) The premise. Cute and overdone, but forgettable in this instance.

2) Sandra Bullock's character, Margaret. I was appalled that Sandra couldn't walk in those heels, but I found it so insulting that once again, the high-powered, competent woman was a stone-cold, black-hearted bitch who made everyone miserable and was single, alone, and unsexed. Now, I don't mind cold-hearted characters, but I didn't believe a single thing of Margaret's reputation because the part was written in such a superficial manner (OMG, she frightens her coworkers! OMG, she fires an incompetent employee! OMG, she wears black and extra high heels, and barks orders!), and the whole "revelation" as to why she was so cut off from her emotions? Lame, lame, lame.

3) Ryan Reynolds. I'm not familiar with him, and now I see why: he is a dull actor. He's blandly attractive and he has no charisma or range. His lack of oomph to his part really dragged the movie down. On to his character Andrew: woefully underdeveloped, and the conflict between he and his father was hit and miss. It was also irritating that he turned out to be this super wealthy scion of a Sitka millionaire or whatever.

4) Andrew's family. Come on...I didn't believe for one minute that a man's family would NEVER pick up on their son's lie. And that they would be so happy to hear about his engagement to a woman they've only heard him cuss and bitch about, that they wouldn't think something was wrong.

5) Casual racism. Okay, Margaret was a bitch, but did they have to stick in that line "it's not like I'm an immigrant...I'm from Canada!" or "gardeners and delivery boys"? That crossed the line to create a completely unlikeable human being in general. Plus, there was no pay off for her bigoted assumptions. The movie would have some depth had they explored at least a tiny bit, how immigration is about anyone non-American, whether you be white, Mexican, African, or Caribbean. Plus, Ramone? Ugh. That what the hell "ceremony" Gammy did? And the general lack of native Alaskans.

6) The movie just wasn't funny or romantic. I could see so many of the "funny" moments a mile away (the dog and the eagle; the running into each other naked; the having to rescue Margaret from the ocean; etc), and Sandra and Ryan had little chemistry.

All in all, I wasted nearly two hours on a movie, convinced it was going to be funny and romantic, simply because it made $100 million at the box office...

8:34 PM  

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