"Oi. Get married. Wan onnot?" ~ That Movie Blogger Fella

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

"Oi. Get married. Wan onnot?"

The Proposal
My rating:

I'm as much a Guy Movie kinda guy as the next guy. But I'm also man enough to admit I can enjoy a good romantic comedy. Give me some laughs, give me a likable guy and a lovable girl, give me some decent chemistry between the two, give me two people believably falling in love over whatever plot contrivances you can throw at them, and I'll have a good time.

Give me a movie that fails at that last criterion, and you get The Proposal.

Margaret Tate (Sandra Bullock) is the hard-ass chief editor of a publishing house who makes life a living hell for her personal assistant Andrew Paxton (Ryan Reynolds). Turns out she's Canadian and has been neglecting her citizenship application, so she's about to get deported - which is when she blackmails Andrew into getting engaged to her for the green card. To maintain the charade, they have to spend a weekend in Alaska with Andrew's family - his parents (Craig T. Nelson, Mary Steenburgen) and his 90-year-old grandmother Annie (Betty White).

What happened to Sandra Bullock? She had terrific breakthrough roles in Demolition Man, Speed and While You Were Sleeping, and since then she's struggled to find a decent vehicle for her considerable talent. She's still great fun to watch, but she really needs to pick better scripts - as well as recognize when a movie she's in is in fact a blatant ripoff of one of her earlier good movies. Rom-com? Check. Plot based on an elaborate deception her character is running? Check. Being charmed by the male lead character's family members? Check. Guilt at deceiving aforementioned charming family members? Check. Dramatic admittance of deception at wedding altar? Check.

Aiyoo, movie, if you're gonna imitate While You Were Sleeping so closely, you can't avoid comparisons to it. And that movie was easily better than this one. It was more charming, more real, and did not have any painfully forced humour - like the scene where Margaret dances with Annie in the woods. I know a lot of people think actors dancing like morons is truly ROFL-worthy, but I'm not one of them. The jokes were hit and miss for me, although some of it may have been our Penapis Filem yang Terhormat again - two major comic setpieces, the male striptease scene and the nude collision between Margaret and Andrew, were pretty much gutted. Thanks, FINAS!

Another reason why While You Were Sleeping pwns this movie is because it focused on Bullock's character, instead of trying to develop both halves of the romantic pairing and coming up short on one of them. I can believe Margaret falling for Andrew, and being won over by his sweet and feisty grandmother. I can't, however, believe Andrew falling for Margaret, the bane of his existence and someone whom he refers to as "the witch on her broom". This is more the screenplay's failing than that of Reynolds' performance. There's a subplot regarding the strained relationship between him and his father, and it's not only lame, it's also an egregious waste of Craig T. Nelson.

This is the second movie in a row I've watched that had epilogue scenes over the end credits, and frankly, Setem did it better. (Malaysia Boleh!) I said before that this kind of thing only works if we really, really like the characters - and here, we don't. Mr. and Mrs. Paxton are dull. Grandma Annie is fun, but there's also this exaggerated comic relief character Ramone (Oscar Nunez) who just isn't as funny as the movie keeps telling us he is. He's another example of the movie's forced humour - like a guy who can't help laughing at his own jokes, and laughing a little too hard.

What ultimately saves this movie is Bullock's performance, and to a lesser degree, Reynolds' as well. They're fun to watch in the first half, when they're still bickering and one-upping each other. Reynolds' expressions when he first learns of his "engagement" to Margaret is probably the funniest bit in the whole film. And there's one genuinely sweet scene where they open up to each other and begin their first tentative steps towards falling in love. Problem is, there's only one such scene. Honestly, I can forgive a not-very-funny romantic comedy if it only delivers some decent romance.

I haven't watched a lot of Hollywood rom-coms lately (and wouldn't have caught this one were it not for this blog), mainly because few of them have gotten any decent reviews. Most of them have been criticised for being formulaic and cookie-cutter, emphasizing plot contrivances over genuine chemistry and romance. This is yet another one of them. Go watch While You Were Sleeping instead. It's not only the better version of this movie, it's a better movie period.

NEXT REVIEW: G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
Anticipation level: just hope it's not too stupid


Unknown said...

nice reviews! nominated you for bloggers awards! cheers mate

TMBF said...

Thanks! Um... let me know if I win anything. :)