I don’t just watch new movies all the time, I seek out plenty of older ones as well. Some of them are really damn good, others are utterly terrible, but I have decided to write something about all of them and their redeeming features (if any). I will do this in a new category, the ‘Random Movie Round Up’. First up is The Proposal (2009), a thoroughly generic romantic comedy that does get one thing right.
Romantic comedies are a bit of a guilty pleasure of mine and I’ve been on a Ryan Reynolds kick lately, so it was inevitable that I would stumble upon The Proposal at some point. The film pits Ryan Reynolds against Sandra Bullock as assistant and ‘boss’. Bullock plays a high powered Canadian book editor who works in New York. However, she’s been too busy to bother with all the immigration paperwork, so her superiors have to inform her that she has to go back to Canada. In an effort to avoid deportation (and a little gender role reversal), she forces her assistant, Reynolds, into marrying her so that she may keep her life in New York. Reynolds has no other option if he wants to keep his own career going, so he agrees. Luckily, Reynolds already had a family weekend planned in Alaska, which is the perfect opportunity to announce the marriage and the perfect setting for a movie.
Now, you’ve all heard this story a thousand times: it all starts out strictly business and even though both Reynolds and Bullock are highly attractive single adults, it’s unfathomable that something would ever happen between them. But, somewhere between the fake kiss and all the inadvertent touching and rubbing, the unlikely couple starts to fall in love (surprise, surprise). Of course, there’s the usual denial, ex-girlfriends, animal related mishaps and misunderstandings to keep it interesting, but otherwise it’s all very predictable. What I wasn’t prepared for, was the level of chemistry Bullock and Reynolds had on display.
Maybe it’s the fact that my girlfriend is in New York for six months (and I’m feeling lonely here in Amsterdam). Perhaps it has something to do with the age difference between Reynolds (1976) and Bullock (1964). Or it could be that they’re just great actors, but I found The Proposal to be pretty erotic at times. The witty banter and snide remarks do a good job of establishing the balance of power between protagonists, but it also builds up a great deal of sexual tension. In one such instance Reynolds is arguing with Bullock when they’re standing outside (family looking on from inside the house). Bullock is supposed to accompany his family on some annoying trip they’ve organized. As she objects, Reynolds brandishes a particularly great grin and tells her there’s no way out of it, furthermore she should give him an intimate hug so as to keep up appearances. The way in which Reynolds proceeds to grab Bullock’s behind might be a little childish. And yet, you can’t help but feel a flash of excitement as you consider this type of forbidden encounter. The Proposal exploits these moments expertly.
Sadly, the film is dragged down by the type of slapstick only a mother-in-law could love. It has no place in a film that aspires to be anything more than bottom of the shelf videostore type garbage. What’s even worse is the offensively mediocre soundtrack. I swear, they must have a machine somewhere that composes this drivel with the press of a button, no actual person can be writing this stuff. And music is so important! Take Cameron Crowe’s Singles (1992): a better movie than The Proposal (on most levels), but not all that special either. However, the moment you put some Alice in Chains in there, *boom* it’s a cult classic. Great music won’t fix everything of course, but The Proposal would have been much better if it had a soundtrack that could speak to people.
I’m just going to say this as a disclaimer: The Proposal is a terrible film, but it’s still exciting to see Reynolds and Bullock go at it for ninety minutes.