New Movies -
Old Movies -
The Proposal (Anne Fletcher, 2009)
Much of The Proposal’s success must be laid at Sandra Bullock’s feet. A consistent and constantly underappreciated actress, she has finely honed her comic chops over the years. She decidedly enhances an already solid screenplay, adding considerable laughs to those existing on the page. Whether contending with a rogue hawk or struggling to earn her sea legs, she shows genuine prowess at physical comedy. Even her chosen demeanor surprises. She eschews likeability to an extent greater than any character in this sort of film since Streep’s turn in The Devil Wears Prada. What’s more remarkable still is that she manages to do so while cultivating a viable screen romance. Her performance, at least compared to others in the genre, is exceptional. While it may not be the stuff that Oscar nominations are made of, it does make one happy that the Golden Globes have a comedy category.
Ryan Reynolds, an actor who has perhaps had an even more thankless career than Bullock, is almost as likable as her foil. When the two of them bicker, the dialogue becomes genuine banter. They effortlessly establish their love/hate relationship, and play off of each other’s sarcastic disdain for the majority of the movie’s running time. Even as the script bends over backward to put the two in embarrassing situations, they gamely step up to each challenge, devoid of vanity. Had they brought less to the table, there’s no telling what kind of disaster this would have been. With them, The Proposal a small delight.
The Proposal, of course, is not a perfect film. It does not warrant comparisons to the true greats of screwball comedy. It mines for lowbrow laughs with broad turns by Betty White and Oscar Nunez. It perhaps too emphatically gives its characters personal crises to overcome. Nonetheless, it is about as pleasing a star-driven comedy as one could reasonably expect to open in wide release during the dog days of summer.