The Proposal - Movie Review
By Anne Brodie Jun 19, 2009, 13:46 GMT
When high-powered book editor Margaret (SANDRA BULLOCK) faces deportation to her native Canada, the quick-thinking exec declares that she’s actually engaged to her unsuspecting put-upon assistant Andrew (RYAN REYNOLDS), who she’s tormented for years. He agrees to participate in the charade, but with a few conditions of his own. The unlikely couple heads to Alaska to meet his quirky family (MARY STEENBURGEN, CRAIG T. NELSON, BETTY WHITE) and the always-in-control ...more
One can certainly understand that Sandra Bullock, at age 44, has had enough of playing the perpetual romcom heroine, the sweet, funny, goofy gal who overcomes all obstacles with a sunny smile and attitude.
She impressively and utterly transformed herself to play Harper Lee in Infamous; she was breathtaking. I can get behind her desire to expand into age appropriate roles and leave the RC chickflick genre to a new generation of actresses.
But no one said anything about going completely against type. Bullock plays a cold, ball busting, rigid and definitely unfunny Manhattan publishing executive in The Proposal. Yikes.
Ice water runs in her veins and her face is permanently frozen, like the tundras of Alaska. She’s a schemer and executioner and strangely enough, the character’s Canadian, which kills that stereotype.
Ryan Reynolds, who is in reality Canadian, plays her American executive assistant, a spineless servant who allows himself to be bullied because he wants her to publish his book. This is the miserable world we enter and the mood only lifts waaay into the 107 minutes.
The whole concept is distaseful and uncomfortable, not because these actors are so outside our comfort zone but because they are unrecognisable. Aren’t Bullock and Reynolds beloved because of their personalities? Way to stifle them, filmmakers. And that means Sandra who executive produces.
She’s about to be deported to Canada because she’s neglected to do her paperwork probably imagining that her power will protect her. She pulls it out of the fire by announcing that she’ll marry her assistant. With that book in mind, he agrees, despite knowing he could face hefty fines and prison time if their marriage is deemed fraudulent. He can’t stand her.
Even so, they fly to Alaska to meet his family, including Gammy played with vim, vigour and vitality by Betty White in full cliched, trash-talkin’ throttle. The Office’ Oscar Nunez a Mexican multitasker offers a few nude and clothed diversions. The Watchmen’s Malin Ackerman gamely plays Reynolds ex galpal. Mary Steenburgen is Reynolds’ cloying mother and Craig T Nelson, his rigid, unfunny, icy father. Boy, are they rich! Oh and there’s a cute white puppy who misbehaves adorably.
Bullock and Ryan play an hysterical nude scene which is very nearly racy except for her long hair. But the movie never quite gells because one longs for her to be funny more often. One good rollicking scene doesn’t suffice considering the ways we’ve come to know her.
There were plenty of opportunities for fun, but even the falling-in-the-water-and-can’t-swim scene sinks. She’s an executive but see? She’s a fish out of water too! Talk about cliches. Reynolds’ character gets angry and takes it out on a log with an axe. What a caveman! Even Betty White can’t bring the funny because her role is painfully stereotypical.
The film is never more than mildly entertaining because the filmmakers kept so closely to the romcom formula, but as many films that know they’re weak, provides significant eye candy. The outdoor scenes and the perfectly decorated cabin mansion are right out of an Architectural Digest inspired storybook. And Bullock’s wardrobe! Yum. Again, not enough to make a movie.
There seems to be an underlying bitterness throughout the film, blame, deceit, abuses of power and just plain nastiness. Does this pass for funny these days? Of course not.
It’s all about missing the Sandra of old. She should run with what works naturally and find stories that carry her personality into her forties and fifties– that insanely funny magic tha shines through her films and that amazing ability to enliven straight drama.
As for The Proposal, we know exactly what’s going to happen because we’ve read that romcom formula book too.
Written by Pete Chiarelli
Directed by Anne Fletcher
Opens: June 19
MPAA: Rated PG-13 for sexual content, nudity and language
Runtime: 107 minutes