The Proposal

Director    Anne Fletcher
Starring    Sandra Bullock, Ryan Reynolds, Betty White, Oscar Nunez, Mary Steenburgen
Release    19 JUN (US) 22 JUL (UK)    Certificate 12A
3 stars


27th July 2009

The Proposal is a strange film. It's exactly what you'd expect of an update to Gérard Depardieu's Green Card and yet for every occasion when it complies with one of the inevitable clichés demanded by its genre, there's a moment of subtle character development that implies that its creators really should be producing a stronger piece of work.

Take the final reel. The cast knows what's coming. You know what's coming. A blind man having the flick explained to him by a deaf man knows what's coming. And yet, minutes before, Bullock's character's inevitable softening is handled with more grace than you'd expect. It's a scene when the movie doesn't entirely rely on the inherent charm of its two leads, and its a shame more of the running time isn't devoted to such moments.

[gallery]The plot is napkin-worryingly thin - bitchy boss demands her assistant marry her for Visa reasons - but it's an assured performance from Bullock, who is comfortable both having jokes made about her age, and spending a good thirty seconds completely starkers. Her character, which is far removed from the roles upon which she built her career, is also the reason that this com is lacking the normal amount of rom. But, as with the film as a whole, for every great moment where she's throwing a phone at an eagle (yep, an eagle), there's a slightly odd scene where she tries a little too hard to justify her top-line billing.

These skits aren't entirely un-amusing, but would have benefited from a firmer hand in the editing room to stop the flick from sagging quite as much when Reynolds isn't on-screen. As you'd expect, Reynolds is a tube of effortless charisma and comedy timing. He and Bullock are also tremendous at being the awkward couple, whose initial dislike of each other is palpable. But whether Reynolds is abusing his put-upon character's new-found power by grabbing a little ass, or being completely lost for words after having the news of his impending nuptials dropped on him in a business meeting, there's the overwhelming feeling that, once again, he is simply better than the material he's been given.

Aside from those two, there's not much you'd feel compelled to correspond with your residence about. Ramoné (The US Office's Oscar Nuñez), a recurring character, gets a few laughs; Mary Steenburgen looks amazing as Reynolds' Ma and there's one time-lapse establishing shot in particular that's very pretty. But the father/son conflict clanks, and there are a number of missed opportunities, such as Reynolds' ex-girlfriend (blandly played by Malin Akerman), and possibly some sort of best man figure.

The Proposal is not exactly a missed opportunity, as the constraints of the Hollywood romantic comedy are too deeply ingrained in the movie's DNA for it ever to have been anything else. If you've seen any rom-com ever made you'll know exactly what The Proposal will be serving up. But, in the same way, if you've seen any of Reynolds or Bullock's previous work, you'll know exactly what The Proposal will be serving up. And, in all likelihood, you won't mind one bit.

More:  Romance  Comedy  Weddings
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