From the Editor

Movie Review Archive

Thank you for checking out my movie review archive. I'm in the process of transitioning to something else, so I will no longer post new reviews to this blog. In the meantime, I will keep these reviews archived; these are from the fall of 2008 to April 2011. Please watch this blog for more info and keep in touch (you can still find me on Facebook and Twitter). Here's to more great movies!

Wes Singleton

North Texas Film Critics Association

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Proposal - B-

PG-13 for sexual content, nudity and language, 105 minutes

Reynolds, Bullock charming in "The Proposal," but Betty's still golden

Just when I was about to divorce myself from romantic comedies, along comes "The Proposal," a lively, amiable view of relationships. It’s certainly nothing new and it’s predictable as the unpredictable Texas weather, but "The Proposal" is held together by two engaging actors in Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds and you’re likely to leave the theatre with a big smile on your face. Even with such winning leads, "The Proposal" is stolen by a former Golden Girl who’s still quite golden when it comes to comedy.

When a powerful, domineering book editor and Canadian Margaret (Bullock) faces deportation to the north country, the quick-thinking exec declares that she’s actually engaged to her unsuspecting put-upon assistant Andrew (Reynolds), who she’s abused for 3 years. He agrees to participate in the charade, but only with the condition of an important promotion. The unlikely duo takes off to Alaska to meet his offbeat but loving family and the once-decisive Margaret can’t get a handle on her new surroundings. With immigration on their tail and a last-minute wedding in the works, their future remains cloudy as they attempt to stick to their plan.

"The Proposal" is a thoroughly enjoyable, immensely calculated, overly familiar but winning romantic comedy that gets by on the charm of its leads. Bullock, who can owe her success to these types of things (and who also co-produces), continues to mine this successful but overdone formula. That is, with "The Proposal" you can probably guess the outcome just by looking at the ads: opposites attract fish-out-of water, big wedding and comedic situations ensuing.

It adds up to a few, brief humorous scenes, basically just light comic fluff, but little else in the way of a truly great movie. Reynolds is a boyishly bland, likable actor who’s more adept at blending in than conveying any genuine sense of emotion. He and Bullock have fine chemistry and modestly inspired comic timing; their initial scenes together, with Bullock at her bossiest, have the most bounce and rhythm. But as "The Proposal" goes on, it’s hard buying the two (ironically in real-life Bullock is American and Reynolds is Canadian) as anything but good friends.

Anne Fletcher, a former dancer who also helmed the first "Step Up" and last year’s "27 Dresses," takes on another chick flick. She’s an uneventful director who treads the surface yet wisely focuses on her pretty co-stars; she manages to get Reynolds and Bullock PG-naked in a well-timed and well-choreographed scene (sorry folks, no full frontal here). "The Proposal" also benefits from a fun supporting cast that includes Craig T. Nelson (always known as "Coach"), Oscar-winner Mary Steenburgen and Oscar Nunez (Oscar from "The Office") as someone who can do just about anything - waiter, store clerk and in one amusing scene – a stripper.

However, "The Proposal’s" most memorable scene stealer - and really movie stealer - belongs to former "Golden Girl" Betty White as Reynolds’ no-nonsense Grandmother. She’s still quite golden in displaying comic prowess with the lackluster script. One of her first lines in the movie is its laugh-out funniest: “What shall I call you, Margaret or Satan’s Mistress?” she asks Bullock’s Margaret. She also manages to feel Bullock up (not as funny if you’ve already seen it in the film’s trailers), hop around like an Indian and stage a faux illness that’s the highlight of the movie.

"The Proposal," aside from its lovely cast, is handsomely filmed (New England actually stands in for Alaska) and down the stretch, you’ll have a very good idea of what will happen not to mention that some of its core romantic angles ring false. Bullock and Reynolds make for better friends than lovers, and while Bullock is beautiful, she’s too old for her co-star. "The Proposal" is cheerful, light fun that should satisfy those looking for a romantic comedy alternative this summer.