Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Proposal

Wow, it feels like FOREVER since I reviewed a play or movie (see, I get my drah-ma in other places...).

But this afternoon I made a point of going to see The Proposal once my laundry was done (no, I did not do it until this morning). I had dinner with two friends last night (that I did check off my to-do list, of course), and she recommended it--HIGHLY.

So despite the fact that Sandra Bullock has been batting .333 in romantic comedy since Practical Magic (I.M.H.O.) I went.

Well. I enjoyed it--a lot. I'll give the cons right up front: I am really tired of senior citizens gettin' jiggy with sextalk and especially with Betty White doing so. I do not find it funny any more than I find babies saying "poop" and "shit" and "penis." Ugh. Also, Sandra Bullock's indictment of the Modern Working Woman's inability to do anything without her Louboutins is a tad embarrassing and stereotypically two-dimensional.

I worked in publishing for years and I will say this: without family money (New or Old) and/or marriage to a Park Avenue plastic surgeon NO WOMAN IN PUBLISHING, be she Editor-in-Chief or not, can afford to accessorize herself with the large-size Kelly Bag and multiple pairs of Louboutins and Louis Vuitton luggage sets, unless they were gifts from adoring fans.


OK, on to pros, which are substantial. First, I LIKE the chemistry between Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock -- finally, a co-star who isn't just a male stereotype. In fact, far from it: Reynolds' character is more honest than Bullock's, and the actor really shows his chops in terms of comic timing, physical humor, line delivery, and character development. Both Bullock and Reynolds are better than the script, which has its moments of intelligent humor (like the scenes where Bullock arrivs at work and everyone in the office reacts to her with fear, awe, and fear) but also pulls out some sorry moments that miss (like the only "exotic" dancer in Sitka, Alaska--it would have been better contextualized somehow, rather than allowing us to think, hey, maybe the writer is serious and this is the pinnacle of culture in that little town). Mary Steenburgen is under-used but wonderful as always; instead of bonding with Gammi Betty White, I'd like to have seen Reynolds' mother Steenburgen getting to know her new daughter-in-law-to-be Bullock: would have given more depth and nuance to the characters in total.

But... seriously, see it for Reynolds (who has already impressed me this summer in Wolverine--okay, mostly for his abs, but still....--and in Adventureland) and Bullock. They also handle the older woman/younger man thing with adroitness (finally!) and make it work. Yahoo! There's a reason older Bullock has a realtionship with younger Reynolds: he is her assistant. AND he is neither wimpy or too testosterone-laden to be believed. The writers and directors and characters are not embarassed nor apologetic for the age difference: they use it beautifully. See, it can be done. And for character performances by the editor-to-be-fired (and Bullock's lambasting of him), the INS man, and the super cute puppy.

I have to give praise to Bullock, who has refused to give up on romantic comedy at the same time she has refused to pretend to be an ingenue. Refreshing. This is not exactly His Girl Friday or The Lady Eve, but closer than Bullock has ever gotten to the witty, intelligent, physical comedy she would actually sparkle in. In fact, I would recommend Bullock look at Stanwyck's Ball of Fire and consider some kind of remake.

Go see The Proposal.


P.S.: I worked for this woman when I was in publishing. I once overheard her tell the in-house head of advertising, regarding an ad that had run in the NYTimes Book Review with wrong information, that she planned to blame the advertising agency for the mistakes, because she didn't want anyone thinking she would employ someone in-house who was that stupid. And this was with her door open and the Voice that carried all the way down the hall to my little corner office... She could have taught Torquemada a few new tricks.

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