Movie Review: The Proposal
by Jeff Ritter
Published: June 16, 2009
Let me explain something right from the start: I don't like romantic comedies. These tedious exercises in boyfriend patience, pretending to be awake while my girlfriend giggles like a six-year old at Christmas -- the very thought of being dragged to a so-called "chick flick" makes me want to feign the measles.
So when I say to the men who may be reading this to call in a reservation for two at your favorite restaurant and take your lady to see "The Proposal," you can believe that I mean it. You won't have to fake your enthusiasm. And trust me, even if they don't say it, the girls know when we're faking it. I haven't laughed out loud as hard or as often at the movies in years. So gentlemen, take a deep breath, allow yourself to cast off the aura of machismo for a couple of hours, and admit to yourself that it's OK to take your girl to a romantic comedy. Trust me, you'll like it. And ladies, if your man is being difficult about it, just tell him that the lovely Sandra Bullock gets naked (more or less, sort of) in it. Don't worry--Ryan Reynolds shows off his well-defined bod too!
To be honest, the movie really isn't breaking new ground. It's a date movie, about a guy and a girl falling in love. That much we've all seen before. But it's how the tale plays out, the delightful mix of absurdity and believability, that makes "The Proposal" such a pleasure. Sandra Bullock -- who at 45 looks like she's going on 35 -- plays take-no-prisoners editor-in-chief Margaret Tate, who rules her staff with an iron fist but is about to be deported back to her native Canada for failing to file the proper work visas. Ryan Reynolds, most recently seen as the mutant Deadpool in "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," is her overworked and unappreciated executive assistant Andrew Paxton. Reynolds is gifted with comedic timing, but in this film he does so with a low-key manner that is realistic and as comfortable as joking with life-long friends.
After Margaret concocts the idea of marrying Andrew to stay in the U.S., they fly off to Alaska to break the news to his parents. The Paxtons have carved out a nice living in the tiny island town of Sitka, Alaska, but family patriarch Joe (Craig T. Nelson) is miserable because his son would rather work in New York for a woman Andrew has long despised instead of coming home and taking over the family legacy. Andrew's mother Grace (Mary Steenburgen, who seems to get more lovely every time we see her) is more accepting, and along with Grandma Annie (the incomparable Betty White) decides that they should get married that very weekend, to coincide with Annie's 90th birthday. The unlikely couple are also in the presence of Andrew's old sweetheart, Gertrude ("Watchmen"'s Malin Akerman) while being dogged by an INS agent (Denis O' Hare) determined to prove that the wedding is a sham.
I don't think it does anyone any good to go into every detail of the plot, but I've read a few comments in various places that take issue with plot devices, minute details, etc. My colleague here at The-Trades.com, Paulette Suhr, raises some interesting questions herself. And like her, I don't care about the details. Everyone needs to lighten up and enjoy themselves sometimes, even movie critics. I warmed up to this movie very quickly, and by the end I wasn't even thinking about the unlikelihood of the INS tracking people down to remote Alaskan villages. I leaned back as far as my cinema seat would allow, relaxed after a frantic day in the office, and laughed nearly nonstop for 107 minutes at a movie I originally didn't even want to see. I can't begin to tell you how glad I was to be wrong about this film.
Even if you feel you've seen it all before, there's no denying the chemistry of this cast. Bullock deftly slides from hated dictator to vulnerable, conflicted (if illegal) immigrant that you can't help but root for, and she's still as gorgeous as ever to boot! Director Anne Fletcher reins in Ryan Reynolds, who brings an everyman vibe to Andrew Paxton. I found myself relating in various ways to Andrew, even though I've never been (and don't ever want to be) in his unenviable situation. The tension between Andrew and his father was very believable, and Betty White was simply a joy to behold. She's been making folks laugh for six decades, and she hasn't lost her charm yet. She practically steals every scene she's in.
"The Proposal" is laugh-out-loud funny and Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds are a fine comedic couple. As a reviewer who typically can't stand romantic comedies, I can't think of a better recommendation than to say that not only did I thoroughly enjoy it, I actually want to see it again!