The Proposal (2009) October 11, 2009Posted by Dragan Antulov in Film Reviews.
Tags: Anne Fletcher, Betty White, Malin Akerman, Ryan Reynolds, Sandra Bullock
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A Film Review
Copyright Dragan Antulov 2009
Book with a title like When Bad Films Happen to Good Actors should have Sandra Bullock on its cover. Bullock, one of the brightest stars of 1990s Hollywood, managed to turn some mediocre films into tenable, and sometimes even pleasant experiences. Yet, those talents often weren’t enough to compensate for lack of other people’s talents, even when such films belonged to genre of romantic comedy, which was supposed to be Bullock’s forte. One of the latest examples is THE PROPOSAL, 2009 film directed by Anne Fletcher.
In it Bullock plays Margaret Tate, 44-year old chief editor of a New York publishing company, a tough workaholic woman who runs her subordinates with iron hand. Her career is threatened when it turns out that she, as a Canadian citizen, failed to properly apply for US visa. Faced with the prospect of deportation, she quickly finds solution in the form of Andrew Paxton (played by Ryan Reynolds), her loyal and long-suffering assistant. She blackmails Paxton, an American citizen, into marrying her. Imigration agent Mr. Gitberson (played by Denis O’Hare) suspects that the marriage is sham, so before the actual wedding Paxton and Tate must learn as much as possible about each other in order to play real couple in love. Paxton brings her new bride to his home town of Sitka, Alaska, in order to marry her surrounded by his large family.
If THE PROPOSAL is to be compared with travel, the most appropriate comparison should be with a daily commute rather than an exciting adventure into the unknown. Scriptwriter Pete Chiarelli appears unable to defy or at least avoid romantic comedy cliches, so the average audience member doesn’t have to be an experienced filmophile to know plot in advance. Two main protagonists are, therefore, destined to end with each other despite the apparent antipathy they feel towards each other. Margaret is, therefore, hard but competent and fair boss, and her “hardness” is conveniently explained by growing up without family. Andrew, of course, has exactly that – family which is not only large, but exotic and so adorable – especially the 90-year old grandmother played by Betty White – that even Margaret can’t resist its charms.
The only thing that could be characterised as unexpected twist in THE PROPOSAL is realisation that Andrew’s family is not only adorable, but also very rich. Andrew could have solved all of his existential problems by inheriting business of his rich father Joe (played by Craig T. Nelson), but he left for New York in order not to compromise his own artistic ambitions. This noble character trait is hardly reconciled with Andrew’s cynical acceptance of Margaret’s marriage scheme. Such contradiction, however, is only one of many unsolved problems of this film.
Much bigger problem for THE PROPOSAL is miscasting of Ryan Reynolds. He has comic talent, but he lacks any chemistry with Sandra Bullock. The romance between their two characters doesn’t look credible. The “comedy” part of film works only slightly better. Bullock appears to be good when Reynolds isn’t around. Some bit players – like tragically underused Oscar Nunez – appear to be something of a pleasant surprise. Those surprises are, however, too few and far between for THE PROPOSAL to be anything other than annoyingly predictable and barely watchable piece of Hollywood routine.