The Propsal (2009)
Marriage, the holy vow, a day of happiness and joy for many, not least the happy couple. That is of course unless you’re Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds. In that case it’s a tricky road of lies, supposedly comedic mishaps and and a dirty Grandma.
The Proposal is your standard rom-com in a Devil Wears Prada (2006) dress and There’s Something About Mary (1998) shoes. It follows the tale of Margaret, a super-bitch publisher who is threatened with deportation and so cooks up the spur of the moment plan to marry her soft touch assistant Andrew, played by the ever amiable Ryan Reynolds.
As they play out their matrimonial misrepresentation we meet the quaint and quirky individuals of Andrews home town as the romance and comedy entwine in the snappy but pastiche storyline. Bullock is pretty at home with the fish out of water subtle slapstick. Reminiscent at times of the quirky pep she shows in Demolition Man (1993) she slowly melts into the Bullock we’re all familiar with, but starts off trying to ice it up a little a la Meryl Streep but doesn’t ever seem that cold. Her humour keeps her more like a sudden shiver, it chills when it hits but you’re quickly over it and comfy once again.
Although Bullock is the star and gets the majority of screen time it’s Reynolds that comes closest to making the piece work. There has always been something about Reynolds I’ve liked. He’s by no means a great actor, but he is incredibly likable in a Tom Hanks sort of way. His body of work, including X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Definately Maybe, Blade Trinity and Van Wilder, all showcase a sharp comedic timing and a personality the right side of smart that I’ve just always been drawn to. All the latter films were decent to good without ever being in danger of being outstanding, but in each one the lines I remember most are Reynold’s lines. This is a feeling that continues in The Proposal.
I’m tempted to say you should watch the first hour then just go home, as from that point on the film sinks into a little disappointment. The first half hour is full of witty tet-a-tet between ice queen Margaret and slick but in line Andrew. Back and forth they pop sharp lines of dialogue that get your hopes up this could actually be more than just a by numbers slide into thick on the sugar ‘love at ninth sight’. But alas by the middle of the film you realise that what was once a movie of quick wit, has become a movie of tearful reminisce and unspoken love. The ‘rom’ in this ‘com’ is laid on so thick aside the troubled Andrew’s family dynamic that you are soon stuck to your seat from the saccharine taffy dripping from the screen. I left the cinema with a air of sadness that Reynolds character had developed from the wistfully scathing “You can do this, but that would require you to stop snacking on children while they dream.” to the moronically sophomoric “Margaret, will you marry me? Because I’d like to date you.”
Ultimately I don’t have much to say about this film because it’s so endlessly mediocre. Once it settled into it’s rhythm there was nothing really going on and the script, although serviced by a decent cast, just continued plodding towards it inevitable anti-climax like a three legged turtle. The set ups range from mundane to bizarre and the only other light in this tunnel comes from the ever golden Betty White as Andrew’s oddball Grandma, whose perfect timing and innocent filth lights up an otherwise dark night sky. I’m not saying it’s especially bad, because it’s not, it’s an ok film if you like this type of thing, but after the half way point you’ve seen it all so many times that it needs that little something special to lift it out the water, and The Proposal just doesn’t have it. This film is like a Stretch Armstrong, it only goes so far until it pops under a cloud of smoke. Fun; while it lasted.