22 June 2009

The Proposal

The Proposal
starring Ryan Reynolds, Sandra Bullock, Betty White, Malin Ackerman
written by Pete Chiarelli
directed by Anne Fletcher
release date: 19 June 2009
Touchstone, Rated PG-13, 108 mins.

Pretty Frakkin' Good

The ending predicted before the beginning of the first frame, that doesn't stop The Proposal from being a wholly enjoyable romantic comedy that although it abides by all the rules, feels somewhat fresh and far more interesting than it probably really is. Having eagerly anticipated this release since friggin' January, when the marketing department went on Proposal overdrive, my objective viewing of the movie may have been tampered by too high expectations after viewing the amusing and entertaining trailer a few times over.

Margaret Tate (Bullock) is a big-time book editor-in-chief of Colden Books, and poor Andrew Paxton (Reynolds) is her assistance, forced to do her sadistic bidding. Tate's cold-hearted demeanor falters as she's told that her Visa has experienced, and will be deported to Canada imminently. Just by chance, she comes up with this brilliant proposal - she can't be deported because she's engaged to her much-loved hubby Andrew! Now under the strict eye of a immigration officer, Margaret and Andrew visit Andrew's house in Sitka, Alaska to celebrate his grandmother's 90th birthday (White), but the heat is turned up as they reluctantly agree to marry by weekend's end.

Proposal excels in perhaps the most important department - both stars have outstanding chemistry and work tremendously well together. They make any fall backs from the script seem nearly unnoticeable (I'll touch on this later). Sandra Bullock is at the top of her game, perfectly epitomizing Ms. Bitch-a-lot. Sure, she may not exactly be Meryl Streep Devil Wears Prada level of 'whoa', but she's definitely channeling it. One fine example of Bullock and hilarity is when she's willing to trade a dog for her cell phone. And Ryan Reynolds (X-Men Origins: Wolverine) is completely awesome in this role, but I daresay he is sadly underused. Plenty of commentators remark that Betty White (Lake Placid) is the true star of this picture and generates all the laughs, but it is of my opinion that Reynolds fares far better with some hilarious one-liners. Not to diss White, but although she did a fantastic job as always, I think I preferred her Lake Placid performance over this...

But the sad part about this eagerly-anticipated-on-my-part movie is that the transition period when the characters begin to fall for each other isn't all that well established. There are, of course, customary sequences where the two find out they actually *gasp!* have something in common, or have a laugh about a common joke, etc., etc. You know the drill. But sadly, these few scenes and their constant bickering do little to sell that there is a actual, romantic angle with these two, and that it's found within the short period of three days. I have no doubt these two characters could fall in love with each other, but I would reckon it would take a little more time; and if the time constraint is unavoidable, I also reckon the writers could have done a better job selling the audience on their romance.

There was a point near the end of the movie where I thought the writers were going to be ballsy and completely obliterate my expectations of what will happen and go a different route. Sadly, that did not happen. (Spoilers follow) I thought that once Bullock ended the ceremony, that there was a chance for Malin Ackerman's character and Reynolds to get back together and rekindle their love. The majority of the movie intimated that it was a possibility, and as far as romantic chemistry goes, Ackerman and Reynolds sell it far better. (End Spoilers)

Overall, The Proposal is a fun time at the movies. It's a far superior romantic comedy than Ghosts of Girlfriend Pasts, and even if the script has some weak points, the strong performances from everyone involved more than makes up for it. There are some abrupt plot moments and dangling story threads including a difficult relationship with Reynold's father, but the real reason people are seeing this - Reynolds and Bullock, two polar opposites, falling in love in a comedic fashion - does not disappoint.

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