REVIEW: The Proposal

8 08 2009

I hate re-runs, so I will spare you my rant on the predictable nature of the romantic comedy.  And although it is caught up in some typical clichés, “The Proposal” manages to succeed in spite of them.  The movie provides decent fun for all, offering many solid laughs.  Sandra Bullock makes a welcome return to the genre where she belongs, and she has great chemistry with Ryan Reynolds, who is surely headed for Hollywood superstardom.  The way that they are able to play off of each other’s energy is really what makes the movie work.

Margaret Tate (Bullock) is an uptight book editor who treats her workers like garbage, especially her dedicated assistant Andrew Paxton (Reynolds), who has aspirations to inspire people with his own writing.  But Margaret has a problem: she has put off her immigration lawyer in favor of her work so many times that her application to renew her visa is denied.  To avoid deportation, she forces Andrew to marry her on the threat of ruining his career.  After three years of being Margaret’s assistant, Andrew knows everything about her.  She, of course, knows nothing about him.  To change that, they go to Andrew’s grandmother’s 90th birthday weekend celebration in his home state of Alaska.  Margaret’s big city working girl attitude clashes with the slow small-town attitude of Andrew’s family.  At first, the family is puzzled by his engagement to the woman he loathed.  But eventually, his mother (Mary Steenburgen) and grandmother (Betty White, TV’s “The Golden Girls”) accept it, but his father (Craig T. Nelson) cannot.  As time goes on, Andrew and Margaret begin to open up to each other and realize that there is something different than expected behind their working exteriors.

Bullock, who has charmed audiences in her fish-out-of-water comedies like “Miss Congeniality,” delivers the belly laughs in “The Proposal.”  At the beginning, she does a good job of radiating her high-strung personality.  But when she breaks loose, it is a joy to watch her crazy and hilarious antics.  Reynolds delivers the movie’s giggles, mainly rattling off caustic quips.  But he made every girl in the theater swoon, so I have to give him credit for that.

The supporting cast is also gut-wrenchingly hilarious.  Betty White’s grandma is a riot.  The spunk she brings to the role lights up the screen.  Although the raunchy granny is often a trite romantic comedy cliché, she brings such a fresh energy to it that I forgot that I often hate roles like hers.  Oscar Nuñez, best known for playing Oscar on TV’s “The Office,” is uproarious as the butler who also moonlights as a priest, stripper, and a grocery store manager.  My one major issue with the movie was how they botched the character Gertrude, played by the beautiful Malin Akerman (“Watchmen,” “The Heartbreak Kid”).  She was Andrew’s former flame, but she really doesn’t serve any sort of function in the plot.  She pops up every once in a while, and I kept expecting her to take on some sort of significance.  Unfortunately, it never came.

“The Proposal” is an exuberant comedy that provides fun for all.  I will admit that I have seen it twice, and repeat viewings have only increased my appreciation for the movie.  Hopefully, this will inspire Bullock to turn away from thrillers and return to comedic romps where she clearly belongs.  B+ / 3stars



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