Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Proposal

As IMDB user jmbellin noted, "The Proposal" has a good beginning and a contrived ending. It starts off in New York where an editor named Margaret Tate (Sandra Bullock) must go back to Canada. Since she is so high up in the chain of command and also because she doesn't want the reigns to be handed over to slacker Bob Spaulding (Aasif Mandavi), she improvises a proposal to Andrew (Ryan Reynolds, at least at the beginning well-cast), her subordinate, so that she can stay in her place. This is pretty shady business, and draws concern. Anyways, the film mostly takes place in Sitka, Alaska (setting of Michael Chabon's "The Yiddish Policeman's Union") where Andrew's family lives and where Margaret and Andrew are going to share their news.

Basically, since the marriage was such a surprise to Andrew, he does what he can to make things difficult for Margaret on his home territory. At the same time, they must maintain a lie to so many people. Every aspect of their relationship is a fabrication, especially the dramatic retelling of their proposal, which demonstrates their skills as storytellers/editors (Andrew is a fiction writer). The film decides to take a turn for the worse, as it becomes, to quote jmbellin "fairly traditional Hollywood pablum." The whole movie is formidable to this point, which is the mock wedding or something around it, and then goes into a tired routine whose tensions are only annoying blocks of time that add to the film's bulk. Jmbellin also adds that there are "a lot of family characters thrown in," which is true, but the only one I really objected to, and that was Andrew's father, Joe (Craig T. Nelson). This part is sappy and it's not as if we've seen it many a time before (I think critics knew this in spite of themselves, especially Chris Nashawaty). But even then, I still was in favor of the movie and was able to forgive and see the good things of it. After the whole wedding ordeal, not really. I think it could have avoided where it went and pretty easily at that. You've gotten yourself into something good with good potential, so why try to take the easy way out? The characters don't even do this at the end.
Bullock has been loaded even with a Golden Globe nomination for her work in this movie. She's pretty good, but what she does is awkwardly strain for the length of the movie, which can be kind of annoying, but I guess due for what the part calls for. Reynolds can't save the movie at the end, but, as fellow moviegoers and I agree, he's very nice at the beginning. Everyone loves Betty White here, and she and Mary Steenburgen create an affable family background for Andrew. I think that the beginning was a sort of interesting look at how people are able to separate business and love, and perhaps a satire on how much and how little people know each other after a while. It also shows how people act when they are in their own environment versus how the act in other places. I guess if the movie had tried to make these points clearer it would have worked better. I know I'll get heat from the same people who "disliked" my review of "Paper Heart," but here we are. C+

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