Film review by: Witney Seibold
Actress and choreographer Anne Fletcher directed “The Proposal,” and, I’m a little embarrassed to admit, I have now seen all of Fletcher’s films. That’s an oeuvre that contains both the sappy vagina-friendly romcom “27 Dresses” and the unfortunately dance-light dance flick “Step Up.” I’ve seen many of the films she done the choreography for as well, and I admire her work in that field.
But I really dislike “The Proposal.” It is clichéd, toothless, predictable, and sappy. Sandra Bullock purportedly plays a mean-spirited ballbuster, but is far too charming to be believed as one. Ryan Reynolds continues his reputation as being the best thing in bad movies, but can’t manage to elevate the material. Betty White is funny as the grandmother – she can’t really be unfunny – but her very casting in the role of “funny grandma” felt less like a natural choice, and more like studio tinkering. The story features a cloyingly adorable dog, “cute” awkward city-girl-in-the-sticks moments, nervous humor wrung from an unfunny stripper, and a dramatic chase to the airport at the end. Craig T. Nelson and Mary Steenburgen play the parents of the Reynolds character, and are saddled with so little to do, it was a near miracle they managed to be recognized at all.
Bullock plays Margaret Tate, a Canadian émigré who has been on her own since age 16. She has managed to become the head editor as a high-powered New York publishing company. There are few establishing scenes at the beginning of the film, making sure we know she’s tough. Her toughness, however, ends after the first 10 minutes, as we have a story to get to. It turns out that Margaret is in danger of being deported back to Canada, so she bribes her beleaguered assistant Andrew (Reynolds) into marrying her. Once they’re married, and she has her green card, Andrew will get a promotion and will have his heartfelt manuscript published.
Thanks to the snooping of a slimy INS agent (ubiquitous character actor Denis O’Hare), Margaret and Andrew must actually do married couple things, like tell the family. Hence, off they go to Sitka, AK, where Margaret must learn to adapt her very citymouse sensibilities to a cutesy, outdoorsy tourist community. I hear you can see Russia from Sitka. Yuk yuk. But I kid the Palins.
Ryan Reynolds takes his clothes off in the film. Sandra Bullock, also, does appear nude, covering herself with her hand and a sponge. This is as titillating as you’d expect, although it seems less like a moment rife with comic potential, and more like Bullock is trying to show off to the world that she’s in good shape (indeed, she looks better now than she did a decade ago). Ms. Bullock, you are in great shape. I just wish you could show that off in a better movie.
There is some promise in a subplot involving The One That Got Away (Malin Ackerman), but nothing pans out. There are those aforementioned awkward scenes with a beefy, swarthy stripper named Ramone (Oscar Nuñez), but they are not nearly as funny as the film seems to think they are. On the whole, “The Proposal” plays out exactly as you’d predict, with jokes as safe and as warm as a basket of biscuits. I guess it will serve if you’re looking for a typical brainless romcom that Bullock is known for. If you want wit and intelligence, see something else. I recommend “Adventureland.”
If you’d like to hear the discussion I had about “The Proposal” on the gloriously grand website The Popcorn Mafia – made by its two lovely and gracious hostesses Grae Drake and Gariana Abeyta – then I encourage you to click on the following link: http://www.popcornmafia.com/podcast.php?id=77