Toast to “The Proposal”

23 07 2009

proposal

The Proposal 2009

Starring: Sandra Bullock, Ryan Reynolds, Mary Steenburgen, Craig T. Nelson

Let’s start by pointing out the flaws in The Proposal. There are some, of course. For starters, it follows the utterly predictable and totally overused romantic comedy formula: Boy and girl start out hating each other, they suffer through a number of different silly plot contrivances that throw them together outside of their natural habitat, giving them enough time to really get to know one another, empathize over their respective plights, and fall in love. In the end, we feel smug. We knew it all along. What took them so long???

Lucky for The Proposal, Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock agreed to take on the starring roles. Reynolds is notorious for his no holds barred approach to acting, and his outrageous behavior onscreen never fails to elicit gales of laughter in an audience. But here, he plays it straight. As Andrew Paxton, the compliant assistant to Bullock’s uptight publishing exec Margaret Tate, Reynolds scores with an understated deadpan approach. Bullock, on the other hand, lets herself get carried away. The role-reversal is a welcome surprise, and we end up liking the familiar actors even more for their departure from the norm.

The movie borrows plot elements from The Family Stone, Two Weeks Notice, and just about every other romantic comedy ever made in the history of film. After a hundred years, they’ve simply run out of new ideas in Hollywood, the land where romance (both onscreen and off) goes to die a painful and hyper-visible death. Now they just produce hybrids of the originals, which were usually better. The fact that the film has a small edge over some of its predecessors, and generates enough belly-laughter to conceal any missteps, is no small feat. Don’t set your hopes too high, and you won’t be disappointed.

♦♦½

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