Movie Review: "The Proposal" (2009)
Genre: Comedy/ Romance/ Drama
Directed by: Anne Fletcher
Release Date: June 19th, 2009
Run time: 108 minutes
Starring: Sandra Bullock, Ryan Reynolds, Betty White, Malin Akerman, Craig T. Nelson
“The Proposal” is a romantic comedy starring Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock. It was written by Pete Chiarelli and directed by Anne Fletcher.
Margaret Tate (Bullock) is executive editor-in-chief at a book publishing company. Known as “the witch” around the office, she's disliked by her colleagues due to her pushy and selfish nature. Tate also has a tendency to be cold and authoritative when dealing with employees. An example of this occurs early on in the movie, when we see her fire a man who wants her job.
Margaret's assistant is the hard-working Andrew Paxton (Ryan Reynolds). Since being hired, Paxton has worked every single day in hopes of receiving a promotion as book editor.
The real dilemma of the movie is presented when Margaret meets with the top-level execs of the company. They confront her about some expired visa papers and explain that she is at risk of being deported back to Canada. When Andrew accidentally disrupts the meeting, it gives Margaret an idea. She tells her bosses that she and Andrew are getting married. Seemingly pleased to hear the news, the company execs remind Margaret to take care of the problem as soon as possible.
After the meeting an irritated Andrew confronts Margaret in her office and tells her he's not going to marry her. She tells him that if he doesn’t help her out, his “dreams of touching others with the written word will be dead". With this ultimatum Andrew begins to weigh his options. He agrees to help Margaret but with a few stipulations of his own. First, he wants the manuscript he's been pushing to be published, and he also wants a guarantee that he'll be promoted in the very near future. Andrew then demands that Margaret get down on her knees in public to ask for his hand in marriage. She agrees.
The two co-workers visit the immigration office to file a fiancée visa where they meet with Mr. Gibertson (played by Denis O’Hare). He blatantly asks if they are committing fraud to avoid her deportation. Margaret and Andrew adamantly deny the claim and tell him of their plans to travel to Sitka, Alaska, where they are going to give Andrew's family the exciting news of their engagement. Content with this answer, Mr. Gibertson lets them on their way.
With this the two are off to his hometown, where the uptight Margaret is in for a surprise with Andrew's family. Some of the movie's funniest moments are created during this trip. Paxton's colorful clan includes his aloof father (Craig T. Nelson), a loving mom (Mary Steenburgen) and wacky, about-to-turn-90 grandma (Betty White). The weekend getaway will provide the 'engaged' couple with the opportunity to share personal details they'll need to know about each other in order to effectively convince the immigration investigator their relationship's not a sham.
In addition to its comical moments, Margaret and Andrew's trip to Alaska is a test of both's patience. Not surprisingly, the executive editor-in-chief is extremely uncomfortable in this new environment though she must maintain her composure if she wants everything to go as planned. As for Andrew, not only does he have to share close quarters with the boss he so intensely dislikes, but he also has to deal with the presence of an ex-girlfriend and tension with his father. On top of that, the INS is ready to charge him with fraud.
Bottom Line: 3 out of 5 stars. All in all it seems that Reynolds and Bullock are the perfect pair for this romantic comedy. From their flawless facial expressions to the hilarious incidents they find themselves in, the couple will likely keep you laughing. Having been friends for over nine years now, Bullock and Reynolds said during an interview that having natural chemistry makes the production of a film go a lot more smoothly. This element is visible throughout the entire movie, from the beginning when they first meet each other in the office to when Bullock flies off the boat and is rescued by Reynolds in the end. Their on screen performance flowed so smoothly that it was reported the pair adlibbed throughout the entire filming process.
As the main star in this movie, Sandra Bullock proves she can shine in anything related to comedy, even when she starts off as the grouchy, no-nonsense "witch" of the office. As usual she goes beyond what's expected to create an amusing motion picture. If it means running around with a dog in her hands or shaking her butt in front of Betty White she is game for anything that's wild and funny. Bullock also does a good job with her character transition as the movie proceeds. She starts out as this rigid, uptight diva and eventually, with the charming Reynolds in her space, learns to chill out and not take things so seriously. As Grandma Annie, Betty White also helps her character let loose, and to hilarious results. At 89 the "Golden Girls" star still manages to steal every scene she's in, and her presence in the movie gives it an extra spark. The scene of Margaret freak dancing to mother earth at Annie's urging is one that will make you chuckle over and over. Also helping the boss embrace her inner spirit is Oscar Nunez in the role of Ramone. Accompanied by this silly personality, Margaret finds herself doing things she wouldn’t normally do.
As for Reynolds, a review written by Tim Robey for the Daily Telegraph reads that he "has improved so much in the last few years that I'm tempted to take back every unkind word I wrote about his Van Wilder days." The studly actor's laid back demeanor and witty sense of humor in the film balances out Bullock's rigid and uptight character of Margaret.
On the other hand, the film does have its shortcomings. For one, the plot isn't original. As nasty as Bullock appears in the beginning, we figure out early on that that she's going to be broken down by Reynolds' character and his family. A review done by Moviefone.com summarizes this, writing that "The Proposal" has "little to offer except sparkling performances." Indeed the humorous characters seem to be the real attraction here, not the storyline. However, this considered, if one is looking for some good laughs from a not-so-serious flick, then "The Proposal" is a fine choice. Bullock and Reynolds are superb together and the movie provides one awkward, ridiculous situation after another.