Movie review – “The Proposal”
By J.A. O’Sullivan
To say the new romantic comedy “The Proposal” is a melange of 21st century clichés mashed into a star vehicle for Sandra Bullock would simply insult your intelligence. And besides, even this tear-jerking wannabe has a few (okay, maybe just one or two) cutsie moments. Much like this spring’s “Bride Wars,” “The Proposal” is a celebration of shallow, implausible greed wrapped into a light romantic comedy. Much like this winter’s “New In Town,” “The Proposal” makes sparks fly by taking a stereotypical dragon queen and knocking her down a few notches before she can find love.
Fabulously successful — and incredibly mean — New York City book editor Margaret Tate (Bullock, “Speed,” “Miss Congeniality”) has flaunted the guidelines for her visa application. The consequences for this, her supervisors tell her, is a one-way trip home to Canada. In the middle of losing both her career and appropriate Manhattan home (do Canadians ignore coworkers and call immigrants “gardeners and delivery people?”), Margaret pulls in her spineless sap of an assistant, Andrew Paxton (Ryan Reynolds, “X-Men: Origins, “Adventureland”) and announces the two are eloping. Andrew, the all-American boy and generally great guy, has spent a few years as a combination doormat/punching bag/coffee grabber, and this situation is no different.
Andrew goes right along lock, stock and barrel, even wheedling himself a promotion for having his romantic life tarred and feathered. But wait, there’s a twist! The couple has to prove to an immigration agent that their arrangement isn’t the complete fraud it is. Thus, a trip ensues to Andrew’s home in Alaska to meet the parents. The sight of shallow ladder-climbers struggling to find love in an Alaskan chalet that even Sen. Ted Stevens would envy, strains credulity at best. Aside from the modest atonement of forcing Margaret to propose to him in public (imagine Stalin sending pink-hearted sympathy cards to the kin of millions of murdered Russians), Watching Margaret interacting with the Paxton family (”the Alaskan Kennedys,” as she describes them) isn’t as painful as it’s supposed to be, which is bad for the plot but not so much the viewers. The banter brought on as the happy couple passive-aggressively navigates their dilemma occasionally transcends the schlock. Bullock and Reynolds, are nice to look at, and do have a certain chemistry that begs to be let free as the litany of phony faux pas unfold. They couple might even have a decent change at making a solid older-woman-meets-younger-man flick if they were cast together in a completely different movie. Maybe there’s a sequel in the works.
In the meantime, cheap stereotypes abound. We’ve already covered the dragon queen business woman, but not in depth. Margaret has the feel of a younger “Devil Wears Prada” Miranda Priestly: her minions cower at her approach, Andrew drinks her brand of coffee in case he spills hers (and it happens) and co-workers snicker viciously when the two are rumored to be engaged. There’s Andrew’s Grandma Annie, the depression-era tough cookie who (of course) is just about the only character in the flick with a strong head on her shoulders. There’s Grace, Andrew’s mother, the picture perfect mother who remains overly emotional from beginning to end about the possibility of her son’s nuptial. Other notes: the movie’s office scenes are awkward caricature, like TV’s “The Office” gone horribly wrong. The few highlights include home-town creep Ramone (Oscar Nunez, TV’s “The Office”) performing strip teases and wedding services, and Andrew’s father, Joe (Craig T. Nelson), a Joe Biden lookalike who sticks his foot in his mouth about as often as the vice president. Hopefully those clowns make the sequel; they deserve the paycheck.
Director: Anne Fletcher
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Tags: movie reviews, ryan reynolds, sandra bullock, the proposal, the proposal 2009