Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Proposal

The Proposal, I’m told, is a romantic comedy. The comedy stems largely from far-fetched situations and cheap gimmicks, and though I did sit through the entire credits, I failed to locate the romance. The film boasts an excellent cast and shows promise at various points, even improving as it unfolds, just never improving enough. During the last act, when I should have really cared about the central love story, I checked my watch more than once.

Sandra Bullock plays Margaret Tate, a cruel tyrant of the publishing world. Her assistant, Andrew Paxton (Ryan Reynolds), endures his job only in the hopes of an eventual promotion. When Margaret faces deportation to Canada because of an expired visa, she forces Andrew into a phony engagement. They plan to divorce after the wedding, but must first survive a weekend in Alaska with Andrew’s family. As Margaret and Andrew come to know each other better, their counterfeit emotions quickly turn genuine.

Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds play their characters with gusto, but as the two fell in love, I never believed it. What’s worse, I didn’t want to believe it. Ryan Reynolds lends his likability to Andrew, but Sandra Bullock’s Margaret is a mean, unpleasant person. Deep down, I hoped that the two would become friends, but that Andrew would end up with someone else. When the audience roots against the plot of a romantic comedy, something’s amiss. Even my wife, who is far more forgiving of chick-flicks, didn’t fall for this one.

I will remark once more on the stellar cast. The names include Ryan Reynolds, Sandra Bullock, Mary Steenburgen, Craig T. Nelson, Betty White, and even Oscar Nuñez (Oscar from The Office). Strong performances carry the film to a certain point, but too many ridiculous situations drag it down. An eagle flies out of the sky and steals Margaret’s cell phone. Margaret and Andrew literally run into each other whilst naked. Romantic comedies don’t have to be completely logical, but the best ones don’t resort to cheap gags. When unbelievable, unnecessary physical comedy takes over, it’s often a sign of weak writing.

There’s a moment when Sandra Bullock speaks at a wedding that immediately reminded me of While You Were Sleeping (1995). The two romantic comedies share more than just a lead actress: misunderstandings, family troubles, and even a spunky grandmother turn up in both. However, While You Were Sleeping stands a world apart from The Proposal, featuring a great script made greater by its performances, its pacing, and even its soundtrack. If you’re in the mood for a charming romantic comedy, save your money and watch While You Were Sleeping. As for The Proposal, go ahead and call the wedding off.

Click here to view the trailer

For the Parents:

MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for sexual content, nudity, and language.

Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock both appear naked, though all of their “bits” remain strategically covered. There aren’t any sex scenes, though there’s plenty of sexual humor. The language is on par with most PG-13 films nowadays; consistent, but never very strong.

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