Wednesday, July 22, 2009


For what it offers, The Proposal (B+) works extremely well. The film is helped enormously by the excellent chemistry between Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds, and Peter Chiarelli's script, while contrived (what rom-com isn't these days?), has enough in the way of mild-surprise and sarcastically funny dialogue to make the whole thing much better than you might expect. The film has a high-concept logline: an uber-successful (and uber-bitchy) book editor (Bullock) is forced to marry her put-upon assistant (Reynolds) when she's faced with deportation back to her home country of Canada. Chaos and romance follows when they go back to the assistant's home town (in Alaska!) to meet his family and hold an impromptu wedding. It's a ludicrous premise, played with a small wink and big smiles by the entire cast. Marry Steenburgen is Reynolds' mom, and beyond looking really hot for her advancing age, she's actually quite good in one of those thankless roles. Craig T. Nelson is appropriately disapproving as Reynolds' father. And Betty White steals the entire film whenever she's on screen as Reynolds' still-randy grandmother. She gets some choice lines and some really funny scenes. There's even a cast member from The Office who gets a priceless cameo. Yes, the film is predictable; you know that the stressed and annoyed assistant is going to eventually develop feelings for his boss, and that his boss is going to finally realize, after three punishing years, that her assistant is really Mr. Right. But it's no more or less predictable than an above-average action movie, and sometimes a genre movie that just works is good enough for a night's entertainment. Directed by Anne Fletcher (Step Up, 27 Dresses), the film looks nice (except for one or two bad blue screen process shots), has a jaunty pace, and the scenes of slapstick comedy are actually handled quite well. Fletcher's background is in dance choreography, so it's not all that surprising that she has a way with staging physical comedy. But The Proposal wouldn't be half the fun that it is without the involvement of Bullock and Reynolds. Especially Reynolds. He's now on the cusp of super-stardom with The Proposal (domestic box office gross to date is $130 million). After starring in a run of mid-level comedies (Van Wilder, Waiting, Just Friends) and actioners (Smokin' Aces, Blade 3, Wolverine), he's about to blow up on the spot next year as he steps into the comic-book tights of The Green Lantern. He's great looking (the wife adores him), he's got perfect comedic timing and delivery, and he's not always trying to sell you on everything that he does (Dane Cook should take some notes from him). If you haven't seen it, go rent Definitely, Maybe, which is better than The Proposal because it's more original and really keeps you guessing; it's also got his best performance to date. And as for Bullock, I don't remember liking her this much, since, say, Speed. She's got the slapstick stuff down pat, she looks really hot, and she's just all-around likable, even if her character is abrasive. The Proposal isn't brilliant or genre-changing, but it's really enjoyable and definitely the best surprise I've had at the movies this year.


do you have a flag? said...


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Joel said...

I really liked this one as well. Charming, fun, sweet, and I thought the predictability was part of the charm. I didn't want any surprises. One of those where the characters deserve to have everything work out for them. I gave it a solid ***, but a higher order. Contains at least two of the biggest laughs of the year.