The Proposal
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The Proposal

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One of the most emotional times that a couple faces over the course of their relationship is when that magic moment arises the man gets down on one knee takes his girlfriend’s hand in his and proposes marriage. At least that is the traditional viewpoint that has been reinforced for ages in the movies. In real life there are an almost infinite number of variation, permutations and alterations that are considered socially acceptable. It the completely unrealistic world of the film genre known as the romantic comedy the proposal is frequently the denouement that just precedes the un-shown ‘happily ever after’. In at least one rom-com, the one that just happens to be under consideration here, the proposal of marriage is the event that instigates the proceeding and sets up the comic situation for the rest of the film. The movie is aptly named ‘The Proposal’. This is admittedly never destined to be hailed as one of the greats of the genre but it is a highly workable, lighthearted romp that is enjoyable; suitable for a casual date night with your wife or girlfriend. The flick is noticeably hindered by predictability but unfortunately this has become routine for the genre over the last decade or so. There is a feeling conveyed that gives the impression that the movie had aspirations of being a sex farce comedy in the vein of the ones that were common in the late sixties. Unfortunately instead of fully committing to that course the cast and crew wind up attempting to remain within the established parameters of the modern romantic comedy. It might have worked out better if played as an old school farce; at least it would have distinguished the movie from the constant stream of its peers. As it comes across the flick is a run of the mill albeit enjoyable movie; the latest to attempt a role reversal format using a dominate woman and an ambitious male subordinate.

The author of the screenplay was Pete Chiarelli with this script as his initial foray into the business. The fact that this genre typically is considered as ‘light and fluffy’ the demands that are placed on the writer and director tend to be much heavier than night be immediately apparent. This type of film is governed by and extremely well defined set or rules encompassing story construction, pacing and the requirement for the required character types. The practical result of these traditionally imposed restrictions is to narrow the potential framework for presenting the story making innovation much more difficult than unusual. For Mr. Chiarelli to select this genre for his freshman opus certainly earns him bonus points for ambition. When you combine this with the acceptable degree of plot holes permitted in a comedy of this nature it has to be stated that the script managers to hold together sufficiently for the audience to kick back and have some fun.

Directing the film is a woman who is quickly establishing herself in the genre; Anne Fletcher. Her previous time out at the helm was with ’27 Dresses’, a movie that hit all the required notes for a rom-com. Most of her prior work has been as a dancer and choreographer. Much of that time was working on television series not normally thought of as having the need of such services including ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ and ‘Six Feet Under’. Considering this fact while watching the film it became evident that this may be an unusual career path but it makes sense. One important aspect of a director’s job is blocking a shot; the placement and movement of the actors in the scene. Ms Fletcher’s background in dance appeared to have given this film fluidity to how the actors go through the scenes. While part of this can be attributed to the skill the leads have, particularly with this type of film but I am quite certain that much of the credit goes to the dance abilities of the director.

The premise here is simple. Margaret Tate (Sandra Bullock) is the senior editor in chef at a major publishing house located in New York City. She gained her success by being completely devoted to her career at the expense of developing any sort of social skills. She is also draconian in the execution of her job functions able to fire a person without so much as letting go of her coffee. The only one that is able to deal with her on any level is her belabored assistant Andrew Paxton (Ryan Reynolds). Margaret is so overly focused in work that she neglected to address her visa renewal which just expired resulting in her facing deportation back to her native Canada. Thinking on her feet she tells senior management that she is about to marry Andrew. She needs a way to stay in the country and promises him to make him an editor. The shame engagement takes the pseudo couple to meet his zany family in Alaska. The film follows the typical three acts of the genre; introduce the dilemma, throw the couple into conflict and get to the happy ending.

Both of the leads are well versed in this type of film. As a plus most of the supporting cast has ample experience in light comedy so this is a professionally crafted production by people who know exactly what to do to dell the film to the audience. Bullock started out in action flicks but when she began to star in romantic comedies she was really embraced by fans. Reynolds first came to attention of the public on a light comic sit-com on TV, ‘Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place’. Lately he has been transitioning to comic book based action movies but even there he has retained his quick, sarcastic wit. The film comes across extremely well especially with the Blu-ray presentation. The video is incredibly crisp revealing the smallest details and showcasing the beautiful Alaskan scenery. Likewise the DTS HD audio brings the soundstage perfectly into your living room. This is fun flick.

Posted 10/10/09

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