"The Proposal" Movie Review

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There are only a few actors that I will shell out $10 to see on the big screen, especially in today’s economy. One of them happens to be Sandra Bullock. I think she is a highly unrated actress who knows how to please her fans and delivers exactly what they want.

In her latest film “The Proposal” Bullock plays a cold-hearted book publisher named Margaret Tate. Her staff unaffectionately refer to her as “it” and “the witch”. Perhaps that is because she never cracks a smile, doesn’t understand the meaning of humor, and runs her office like a well-oiled prison.

Nonetheless, her assistant, Andrew Paxton (played by Ryan Reynolds) sticks with her. He sees her as his best chance of becoming an editor himself. So he puts up with her rudeness, her pettiness, and her cruelty while still doing the best job he can possibly do.

However, one day, everything in Margaret’s and Andrew’s life changes. She finds out that she is about to be deported to Canada because she never bothered to take the steps necessary to remain in the United States. In a desperate attempt to save her job, Margaret tells her boss and lawyer that she and Andrew are getting married. Of course, Immigration Services immediately catches onto her ploy and tells her if she and Andrew can’t prove their love is real, she will be deported and he will be put in prison.

Therefore, Andrew and Margaret are forced to make a trip to Alaska to inform Andrew’s parents of their intended marriage. At first everything goes well. Andrews parents’ Grace (played by Mary Steenburgen) and Joe (played by Craig T. Nelson) buy into the ruse, as does Andrew’s 90-year-old “gammy” (played by Betty White).

The hijinks that take place between Andrew and Margaret and between Margaret and Andrew’s relatives in Alaska are so much fun to watch one can’t help but find themself laughing right along with everyone else. However, comedy is not all this movie offers. Slowly but surely, the audience watches as the ice is chipped away from the cold-hearted witch to reveal something more beneath. While that is obviously no surprise, the way this film handles the change works perfectly within the story.

Unfortunately, eventually Andrew’s father catches on to the deal between his son and Margaret and he arranges a deal with Immigration to save his son from prison. The problem is that Andrew isn’t a big fan of anything his father does to help him. He wants to run his life on his own terms so, of course, he rebukes the deal.

What happens next? Do Andrew and Margaret get married? Does Margaret fit into Andrew’s family? Well, I’m obviously not going to tell you that since it would spoil everything and in this case, you will want to see it for yourself.

This film represents Bullock at her best. As beautiful as she is, this actress isn’t afraid of looking like a real woman or of making a fool of herself when the story calls for it. And it calls for it a lot in this movie. The giving thanks dance she does with Andrew’s gammy in the woods will have you rolling in the aisles.

In this film, Bullock is all at once, irritating, conniving and mean-spirited; then charming, witty, funny; and finally loving, soulful, and raw. You get it all and she delivers everything beautifully.

Reynolds makes for a likeable hero. While he isn’t well seasoned as a leading man quite yet, he has enough charm and grace to keep his character interesting. I can personally think of other actors who might have had more chemistry with Bullock than Reynolds, but he does his best to make what there is work.

Steenburgen and Nelson are acting pros who always deliver whatever is called for. This movie is no exception. Steenburgen is the mom most of us long for as children. Nelson easily pulls off his edgy, out of touch patriarch role. This actor invented the word carmudgeon.

The real star here, however, is Betty White. Who knew that as she grew older, this actress and comedienne would become even funnier? She has turned into a real American jewel!

The screenplay penned by Pete Chiarelli isn’t particularly new. It’s just another take on a tried and true plot line (think “Green Card”). However, the way the characters are developed and delivered make this screenplay so much fun to watch that you forgive its shortcomings. It holds your attention from beginning to end.

Directed by Anne Fletcher, the film remains true to womanhood in all of its incarnations, glories, and defeats. She lets her actors loose to do what they do best and maintains control with a light, yet steday, reign.

I loved this movie if you haven’t already guessed. I can’t wait till it is released on DVD so that I can watch it over and over again like I do with Bullock’s “Miss Congeniality,” “White You Were Sleeping,” and so many more.

This one gets three and one-half stars out of five, which is great for comedy. They rarely hold the top spots although this one comes close.

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