Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The Proposal (2009)

This piece of fluff is about a bossy book publisher (Sandra Bullock) who gets her assistant (Ryan Reynolds) to marry her in order to avoid being deported to Canada. Hilarious, right? Not really. The problem isn’t that this ground was covered quite well in the 1990 film “Green Card,” starring Gerard Depardieu and Andy MacDowell. Movies borrow from older movies all the time. The problem is that “The Proposal” seems to have taken a long, hard look at the classic “Green Card,” and just given up, turning to a hackneyed story line full of romantic-comedy clichés and lacking in any real humor. The result is a film full of good actors (including Betty White) who have absolutely nothing funny to do or say.

The plot, such as it is, is that the Sandra Bullock character, Margaret, violates her visa and, facing exile in Canada and loss of her job, bullies her assistant, Andrew, into agreeing to marry her. To prove to the INS agent how in love they are, they travel to Andy’s home in Sitka, Alaska, making this one of those fish-out-of-water movies. Ho, ho, ho, you are probably chortling, in anticipation of all the rich humor to be mined from a New York city slicker visiting Alaska. The TV show “Northern Exposure” certainly proved that there is some fun to be had with the concept. “The Proposal” manages to have almost no fun with it whatsoever. In one scene, the women in Andy’s family take Margaret to see a stripper, generating one of the only funny lines in the movie. “Ramone is the only exotic dancer on the island. We’re really lucky to have him!” This scene ought to be the height of physical comedy, but none of the actors seems to be able to summon the energy to make it work. I would swear that Sandra Bullock’s slightly bored, disgusted expression as Ramone (The Office’s Oscar Nunez) gyrates around her represents not her character’s reaction to Ramone, but the actress’s reaction to this lame movie.

Come to think of it, everyone in this film seems slightly bored, as if they are just waiting for the movie to work its way through all the clichés and be over. In that sense, this is a film where the audience can truly identify with the actors.

1 star

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