"The Proposal" (my 0-10 rating: 6)
Director: Anne Fletcher
Screenplay: Pete Chiarelli.
Cast: Sandra Bullock, Ryan Reynolds, Mary Steenburgen, Craig T. Nelson, Betty White
Time: 1 hr., 47 min.
Rating: PG-13 (sexual content, nudity and vulgarity)
Yes, it's old, old material but as always, it ain't the joke, it's the way it's delivered. "The Proposal" is solid entertainment, well-romanced by reasonable but not sizzling chemistry between Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds. I can't, however, really give it a "good" rating because it's fairly devoid of any romance-comedy imagination and a bit loaded with shaky contrivances.
A lot of reliable charm pervades this movie, with intimacies -- like nude scenes -- delivered cautiously to avoid the R rating. Director Anne Fletcher seems to hold a cannily calculated grip on the intrinsic appeal of each scene, that built-in essence that attracts you at subliminal levels regardless of quality of substance or total predictability of plot direction. Going to this film is like going home, taking yourself back into the warmth of your heart where you are reassured that love can work even if details are missing.
Unquestionably, there's a significant problem is having Sandra Bullock in there as a witchy type. She's just not that. But early on, you get it: this is not a film to be picked apart. It's just good old honest fun. Fact is, she and Reynolds leave little more to be desired in every interaction, clicking flawlessly, if not inspirationally.
Andrew (Ryan Reynolds), the brow-beaten assistant of aggressive New York book editor Margaret (Sandra Bullock) for the past three years, at last may see the tables turned. Seems she's Canadian and she's caught in a sudden unexpected bind. Advised that she's about to be deported, she has to think fast, coming up with the blatant fiction that Andrew is her fiance and that they'll forthwith be wed.
Well, . . . OK, he responds, he'll put on the act but only under certain conditions. She's to be required to come visit his family in Sitka, Alaska for a weekend. The idea here is that they can use this up close and personal time to get to know a little more of each other's eccentricities, like, for instance, tattoos, allergies (to pine nuts and a wide variety of emotions) plus lots more.
But the dominating change in their individual lives is that Margaret is now plainly on Andrews' turf. First of all, his family appears to own most of the town (interiors and almost all locations were shot in Massachusetts). And his family is a mite quirky. Mom, Grace (Mary Steenburgen), is welcoming, but imposing dad, Joe (Craig T. Nelson), who has an abiding bitterness over his son's rejection of the family business, resents this distraction who Andrew has brought home. Grandma Annie is about to celebrate her 90th birthday and there will be a hastily contrived wedding and, not surprisingly, an immigration official on their trail.
Ryan Reynolds more than fills the screen in most of his scenes, his poker-faced demeanor a decided plus. Sandra Bullock delivers a very professional role, up to every nuance. Bit by bit she exposes the pain in her stridency, the career-contrived surface which she has always projected, in which we can realize her emotional wounds that make her assaults on Andrew, as she sees them, necessary. Andrew and Margaret become totally real.
A pleasant experience, if that works for you.