Monday, May 27, 2013

Movie Review: The Proposal

Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Betty White and some other laughs
Cons: Hard to like characters and hard to believe romance
The Bottom Line:
Betty White is great
But the rest was just average
Take it or leave it

This Proposal Wasn't as Funny as I Was Expecting

All last year, I kept hearing how great The Proposal was.  Yes, it was a traditional romantic comedy, but it was good despite that was what I was hearing.  Well, last night I finally got a chance to sit down and watch only to be disappointed in it.

Margaret Tate (Sandra Bullock) has clawed her way to the top of the publishing world, and she has no intention of letting go.  Those who work for her fear her, and that goes double for her assistant Andrew Paxton (Ryan Renolds).

But Margaret has a problem.  She's living in New York on an expired visa.  Then she comes up with the perfect idea on how to stay in this country - she'll bully Andrew into marrying her.

Unfortunately, the immigration official is a little suspicious of her sudden engagement, so to sell the engagement, Margaret flies off to Alaska with Andrew to meet his family.  What will his family say to the whole thing?  Will Andrew and Margaret's feelings for each other change?

Based pretty much on the premise and genre, I figured I knew where this film was going from the start, and I was right.  However, there were a couple of surprises along the way that did catch me off guard and make me more interested in the outcome.

Unfortunately, the plot doesn't do what it could with the premise.  Some of the sub-plots introduced to give the characters depth were dropped.  Now I'm willing to admit that not resolving everything is more realistic than we would normally see in this genre (or most movies in general).  However, instead of feeling like a creative choice, it just feels clumsy, like the writer dropped the ball or had too much stuff to try to deal with.  It left me feeling unsatisfied.

Sadly, I never quite bought the romance either.  I felt like we got to know Andrew pretty well by the time the movie was over, and I understood his motives and actions most of the way through.  However, I never fully warmed up to Margaret.  She was so cold and mean in the beginning that even the moments meant to soften her didn't go far enough.  Or maybe I would have bought those moments if they had lasted into the next scene.  Plus the chemistry between Ryan and Sandra was only so-so.  To completely buy everything that Andrew does, I needed something more.

With a collection of comedy vets in the cast, I can't fault any of the performances, even by the leads.  Despite the lacking chemistry, I did feel that Sandra and Ryan were putting in good performances.  And they shone in some of the zanier scenes.  Likewise, Mary Steenberg was great as Andrew's mom.  Craig T. Nelson was a bit more serious as Andrew's dad, but he provided the right degree of menace when called for and comedy when needed.  It was Betty White who stole the show as Andrew's 90 year old grandmother.  That woman is a master of comedy, and she proved it again by being the best thing in this movie.

Some of the comedy came from putting the characters in awkward situations, which doesn't always work for me.  However, I did find several scenes that were pretty funny, especially before the action switched from New York.  And watching Margaret battle a dog and an eagle was funny.

While The Proposal isn't the great romantic comedy that I had heard it was, it was amusing and enjoyable.  This isn't something to rush out to watch, but if you happen to catch it, it's not a bad way to spend a couple of hours.

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