Is The Proposal For You?
A Good (But Not Great) Movie
Are you a fan of romantic comedies? Do you find Sandra Bullock to be both talented and enchanting, but wish she’d play a character with more edge? Have you ever wondered what Betty White would look like in Native American garb? If you answered yes to any or all of these questions then it’s very likely that The Proposal may be the movie for you.
Set in New York City (but filmed in and around Gloucester, Massachusetts), Margaret Tate (Sandra Bullock) is a she-devil executive editor-in-chief of a book company with a crisis. You see while she works in the United States, she is not a legal resident (Unheard of!). Unless she can find an American citizen to marry her, she will be deported to her native Canada. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time, her overworked and under-appreciated assistant, Andrew Paxton (Ryan Reynolds), suddenly becomes her unwilling salvation. After much begging on Margaret’s part, in exchange for a promotion and the promise to publish his book, Andrew agrees to marry her. Will things go as planned once Margaret meets his family? Can Andrew proceed with the nuptials despite still having feelings for his ex? Does that pesky government agent (Denis O’Hare) know they are up to something? Why does that stripper keep coming on to Margaret? Such suspense!
As mentioned before, Sandra Bullock doesn’t play a nice woman. Unlike past Bullock characters, Margaret is cold, demanding and emotionally shut off. She frowns upon kind acts and searches for the worst in people. Fans of Sandra Bullock will either be so put off by this new character that they’ll tune out the movie or they’ll realize that talented actors occasionally do play against type and will go along with things. Personally, I kept looking for the other Bullock and was relieved when she surfaced towards the end of the movie. Margaret is the type of person you deeply pity, but regret feeling pity for once they open their mouth. For the naturally sweet Bullock to be able to pull this character off, we are made aware of how truly versatile she is. In the role leading man, Ryan Reynolds balances Bullock out and keeps the scene stealing to a minimum. Though obviously no longer in her physical prime, as Andrew’s spiritually in tune grandmother, Betty White gets the real laughs. Her comic styling is timeless. Casting her in the movie was a brilliant decision.
Unfortunately, the movie itself leaves something to be desired. Like most romantic comedies, the ending is predictable. Also, while Bullock and Reynolds have great chemistry, the way in which their characters fell in love was too forced to stomach. While it is true that movies can’t last forever and, as a result, most onscreen couples fall in love before the first act is halfway through, the writer (Pete Chiarelli) and director (Anne Fletcher) seemed to be so centered on the finale that they didn’t even try to make the first spark seem believable. For this reason, you never are quite able to give into the movie. You are always aware that you’re watching actors be funny and that everything is pretend. While there is some genuine emotion displayed and some jokes will have you in tears, due to poor planning, it never becomes more than a good movie. As I believe most of Bullock’s movies to fall into the “great” category, this is disappointing.
I believe we’re supposed to take away two major points from this movie. The first is that, in order to remain in a country, you need to take the steps to become a citizen. Every day, some American paper prints another story about someone being deported because they’ve been living and working in the United States illegally. The US borders are patrolled fanatically so that no one can sneak into the country. Americans are told to keep a look out for illegal aliens and to report suspicions to Immigration. Thanks to a bleeding economy and the fear that an illegal immigrant is "stealing" a job you might want to have, the witch hunt is worse than ever. With The Proposal in mind, we often incorrectly think of Canada as a portion of the United States and consider nothing of citizens from either country residing in either illegally. This movie reminds us that we’re wrong. The second and far less serious lesson is that commitment without love is simply a business venture. You need to marry or settle down with the one you love or you might as well marry the person in the cubicle next to yours.In other words, life is too short to settle for a loveless relationship.
Given the choice to either spend a chunk of money on seeing it or to catch it on DVD, I would recommend you rent The Proposal when it becomes available. It’s a good movie and deserves a look. However, money is too hard to come by nowadays to be squandered on anything less than great. No matter how you see it, be sure to watch the interviews as the credits roll. In my opinion, they were the best part of the movie.
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