The Proposal


  The Proposal
  Sandra Bullock, Ryan Reynolds

  3 out of 5 stars
  Reviewed for Coffeerooms by Mike Jefferson

I think Sandra Bullock is a funny comedienne with an innocent girl next door appeal. Occasionally, such as when she played a spoiled yuppie racist in "Crash", she can be a dramatic worth reckoning with. Bullock's most consistent box office successes have come when she played lovelorn losers or ultra successful business women who've forgotten what love is. (In "The Proposal", she plays the later.) I watch "While You Were Sleeping" whenever it's on. No matter how many times I see it, I still get the urge to reach into the T.V. and give Sandy's character, Lucy, a big hug. Aside from "Sleepless", Sandy's been awkwardly loveless in "Two Weeks Notice" (aha, another character named Lucy), and the two "Miss Congeniality" flicks -- and that's just off of the top of my head. So when I rented "The Proposal", in which Sandy plays a snippy editor-in-chief of a publishing house, I wondered if she could successfully go to the well one more time. Well, the bucket is at least ¾ full, and that's not bad.

Margaret Tate (beautiful Bullock) is so feared by her staff that when she enters the room her beleaguered assistant Andrew Paxton (rascally Ryan Reynolds) sends out an office E-mail that reads "It's here." Margaret's take no prisoners management style hasn't made her any friends, which is too bad because she could certainly use one when she finds out that unless she can find a way to become a U.S. citizen within three days she's in line to be deported back to her native Canada. In a desperate attempt to keep her job and gain citizenship, Margaret announces that she and Andrew are going to be married. Here comes the bribe... In exchange for his name, Margaret agrees to promote Andrew to editor. Immigration investigator Mr. Gilbertson (frequent "Law and Order" guest star, Dennis O'Hare) is suspicious, but allows the couple a weekend getaway to Alaska so Andrew can break the news to his parents and celebrate his grandmother's 90th birthday. The tables are turned on control freak Margaret when they arrive in Andrew's hometown of Sitka. Nearly every storefront in town bears the Paxton name, and his ultra rich family lives in a mansion on the waterfront. (No pigs in a blanket wedding hors d'oeuvres for these well-healed walrus watchers.) Margaret's determination to get to the altar begins to waver as she reluctantly gets to know Andrew's quirky family. Margaret and Andrew's Nanook nuptials might also be nullified if Andrew rekindles his romance with his childhood sweetheart, or if they can't stop bickering long enough to say "I do" and fool Gilbertson. 

While you're not likely to find yourself quoting lines from "The Proposal" or even going back for seconds, there are several silly scenes, including Margaret trying to keep the family's adopted dog from being kidnapped by an eagle, and her hip hop homage dance in honor of Mother Nature with Gammy Annie (bubbly Betty White). And watching Margaret's iron maiden manner melt in the Alaskan environment is one of the film's more heartwarming subplots.
Okay, I'll admit it. I love Sandra Bullock. She has the classic features of a brunette beauty - liquid eyes, an aquiline nose, a dimpled chin and a sincere smile. Add to those alluring attributes a pleasant, down to earth personality and a ready laugh that says she'd not only be your girlfriend, but your best friend as well, and you've got a movie star who's personable rather than plastic. But the idea of her appearing topless (an advertised pre-release teaser) wasn't a selling point for me because Sandra's not blessed. Besides, nudity at this juncture of her career smacks of a publicity ploy to prop up a paltry picture. While "The Proposal" doesn't have the laugh a minute mayhem of a Marx Brothers movie, it's certainly as amusing as "Miss Congeniality", Sandy's beauty pageant farce. And there's no "Omigosh" moment anyway; coming out of the shower and bumping into an equally naked Ryan Reynolds, Sandy makes sure her hands cover her naughty bits. So nipplegate is avoided. Kudos to Sandy though for being in shape without looking like she spends all day at the gym.

Ryan Reynolds smirks his way through his role as Andrew Paxton. He generates a few grins, but is neither as charming as Hugh Grant (Sandy's co-star in "Two Weeks Notice"), or as wholesome as Bill Pullman in "While You Were Sleeping." Since they spend most of the movie sniping at one another, there's not much chemistry between Ryan and Sandy. The good news is they're at their best when they're tearing chunks out of each other's hides:

Margaret:
What am I allergic to?
Andrew: Pine nuts, and the full spectrum of human emotions.

Craig T. Nelson ("Coach") sports a wind blown tan and an argumentative attitude as Andrew's mogul dad, Joe. Mary Steenburgen ("Joan of Arcadia") is airy, perpetually positive and polite as his wife, Grace. Steenburgen's character has plenty of grace, but isn't given much to do except gush over the impending wedding, scold Joe for trying to goad Andrew into taking over the family business, or demand he treat his son better. Among the supporting stars, it's old hand Betty White who steals the show as Andrew's "Gammy", Annie. White is witty, winsome and winning in the feisty grandma role. The other ham is Oscar Nunez (Ramon), the town's illegal immigrant Renaissance man. He shows up in various scenes as a waiter, stripper, clerk, or as a preacher, and spouts some of the film's funniest lines as the credits roll.

"The Proposal" doesn't break new ground, nor is it knee-slapping funny. It's silly, comic escapism with romantic overtones - the type of screwball comedy that was a staple in 40s movie houses and frequently starred Barbara Stanwyck, Katherine Hepburn, Carole Lombard or Maureen Arthur. It's harmless fluff, but its fun. I propose that you sit down with a few pigs in a blanket and give this romance a chance. 

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