12 August 2009 | Simon_Says_Movies
Hard to admire, easy to enjoy
The Proposal is a hard film not to enjoy but it's an even harder film to admire. Aside from the two exceptional lead performances from Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock and the humour they create, the story is dowsed in clichés and left to drown. I need a film to at least be thoroughly realistic if not authentic, and the tired screenplay often delves into slapstick and camp when it should have let the leads carry the film.
Bullock and Reynolds ooze charisma in all scenarios here, and their chemistry is what anchors the film firmly in watchability, even elevating the film at times to outright excellence. And to The Proposal's credit for every cliché it puts forth, we often get a quick rebuttal of charm, but which ultimately asks the question, why in the first place? I am almost tempted to follow in critic gene Siskel's footsteps and swear off watching movie trailers, because all the best line are in the promotional material; I don't mean they are the only good lines, simply that they would have made the film even more enjoyable had they been fresh. Directed by Anne Fletcher, who has already had rom-com success with Step Up and 27 Dresses, takes a chance with Bullock in my opinion as most would have good with a younger, hot-at-the-moment star. She does not disappoint and in her role as boss, Bullock is certainly suited; imagine that, a character that looks their supposed age.
The plot is certainly one of contrivance, as are with most romantic comedies today, with the stern manger of a publishing firm (Bullock) essentially blackmailing her younger assistant Andrew (Reynolds) into marrying her so she can save herself from deportation and stay in the U.S. It just so happens of course, that it is Andrew's grandmother's birthday that very weekend and is heading up to Alaska for the celebration. Trapped in secluded north, will this faux engagement become something real? The worst scenes of the film take place in the office, with the underlings of the tyrannical boss quite literally diving for cover upon her arrival. We have surely seen in films like Office Space and The Devil Wears Prada that a work scenario can combine humour with realism without the need for the employees to act like Looney Toones characters. My first impression of the time frame in which evil over bearer and ambitious assistant fall in love was that of annoyance as such feelings would never form so quickly. However I may have initially judged too harshly, as is nicely illustrated, Andrew and Margaret only have each other. Andrew is ambitious and loyal, knowing everything about Margaret, and in turn Margaret is so dedicated to her job without any semblance of a personal life, he is her only true confidante and slowly the scenario becomes slightly less preposterous.
The Alaskan scenery is beautiful, and the supporting cast including the delightful Betty White, Mary Steenburgen and Craig T Nelson make for a well rounded and talented cast. My absolute favourite member, which perhaps not coincidently my favourite part of the film, is Malin Akerman as an old flame of Andrew's. It was so refreshing to see an ex portrayed as a nice, honest human being instead of a vengeful witch and it is these intermittent moments of true human emotion that wouldn't make me turn this film off if I happened by it again; even if I wouldn't seek it out on my own accord.
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