The Proposal (2009)


Will You Marry Me?  Because I’d Like to Date You

I have only dim recollection of what lead me to put today’s movie in my Netflix queue, and I’m pretty sure it was mostly based on the fact that Sandra Bullock was nude (ish) in the movie.  I’m not sure that this could be the entirety of the situation because I was well aware of the fact that she covered up all the good bits.  And so I am lead to believe that something about this Rom-Com sparked my interest, whether it was the stars of the movie, the expectation of charm from the movie, or maybe I just wanted to shit on it in a review.  Whatever lead me to it, the movie finally arrived (though it was mainly because I wasn’t paying attention to what was coming up on my queue) and I sat down and watched it.  The Proposal was written by Peter Chiarelli, directed by Anne Fletcher, and starring Sandra Bullock, Ryan Reynolds, Denis O’Hare, Betty White, Mary Steenburgen, Craig T. Nelson, Oscar Nunez, Malin Akerman, and Aasif Mandvi.

Margaret Tate (Sandra Bullock) is an editor at a book publishing company who moonlights as a mega-bitch.  America comes along with a way to put this uppity bitch in her place: Canada.  Turns out she never got her work visa renewed and she’s going to get deported.  Inspiration comes in the well-chiseled form of her assistant, Andrew Paxton (Ryan Reynolds), who unwittingly gets roped into fake marrying her.  All their problems are not quite solved, as Immigration Officer Mr. Gilbertson (Denis O’Hare) will be keeping a close eye on them.  To keep up the facade, Margaret accompanies Andrew to Sitka, Alaska, where he was headed to celebrate the birthday of his grandmother Annie (Betty White), along with his mother Grace (Mary Steenburgen), father Joe (Craig T. Nelson), and ex-girlfriend Gertrude (Malin Akerman).  Chances are very good that things will not go smoothly.

I was very surprised to find myself somewhat charmed by this movie.  Much less surprised, however, to find that I had a couple of complaints about it.  It’s a romantic comedy to be sure, but neither the romance nor the comedy worked very well for me.  I’m not too masculine to admit when I like a Rom-Com.  In fact, I’m not too masculine at all.  There have been a few Rom-Com’s that I’ve found appealing in the past, but this movie didn’t live up to it’s genre.  The romance of the movie was somewhat present, but one of the biggest part of the Rom-Com is at the very end, having endured the hardships that the movie has put upon the couple only to leave them realizing that they’re actually in love and coming together with some big gushy speech and a kiss.  It had the hardships, it had the love, and it had the reunion, but the big gushy speech didn’t have the impact that better written movies usually do in this moment.  The last speech should be so icky and cheesy that women should get so moist downstairs that they slide out of their movie theater seats.  That sentence had plenty of icky, but lacked cheesiness, so I wouldn’t put it in a Rom-Com.  The second half of the genre never really showed up for me either.  The movie had it’s charms, but barely strayed too near actual funniness.  The greater majority of the attempts at comedy in this movie were people asking Margaret and Andrew a relationship question and they had to bumble about to make up an answer.  Also, who the fuck just randomly tells people they need to make out in front of them?  At one point, right after announcing their “engagement”, the people of Andrew’s family say “KISS HER!” and will not take no for an answer.  Why not just leave behind all civility and command him to throw her to the ground and dry hump her until their pants start a fire?  Some people (decent people, if you ask me) don’t feel it’s appropriate to make out in public.  I’m okay with a goodbye peck, but when my high school friend tried to see how far he could get his tongue down his girlfriend’s throat as my mother and I stood by waiting to give him a ride home, civilized folk might think that to be in poor taste.  Let’s face it, the whole movie is so predictable that you can watch the trailer and give a dissertation on the whole movie, as if the trailer itself served double duty as the Cliff Notes.  It has the same problems as the greater majority of Chick Flicks in that it cannot deviate from the pattern.  Problem, off-kilter solution, speed bumps, climactic boiling point, gushy speech, love, ending.  There’s a Rom-Com for you.  I know there are some women smart enough to not have their ponytail explode on them if there is an unexpected twist in a movie, but they still flock to these movies as if their vaginas were going to stop working if they didn’t.  I guess men have our big dumb action flicks as the other side of that coin.  They even do that thing I point out a lot where they “subtly” have Margaret announce “You know I can’t swim” early on in the movie and SURPRISE, she falls into the water later on.  For another note, I found it amusing that the movie opened with Sandra Bullock doing the exact same thing I was doing: riding a stationary bike while watching a TV.  Yes, with my new exercise plan of riding a bike as I do my movies, you will all soon love me for my mind AND body.  Also, Ryan Reynolds was in my bed, just as he was in the movie!  But that’s another story.

I think any issues I had with this movie would mainly be the cause of the writers and not the cast.  They performed as well as they could under the circumstances.  Sandra Bullock played it bitchy, standoffish, and out of her element for the greater majority of the movie.  I still found myself charmed by her, even with her rough exterior.  When that exterior begins to crack and you see signs of the vulnerable person beneath, she hooked me.  One thing she did in the movie brought a very important question to mind: do women not know about morning wood?  She seemed very shocked and confused by Reynold’s morning wood, but I was under the impression that this was a well-known phenomenon.  Of course, I am a guy.  Speaking of, Ryan Reynolds is in this movie too.  I never really understood his appeal though.  I mean, I look exactly the same as he does with my shirt off, but I have the decency to keep my shirt on.  Does every man not look like us?  I’m confused …  Either way, he’s in the movie so he, of course, gets his abs out.  I felt like he was a little too much of a dick to Bullock once he was taking advantage of doing her a favor.  I understand that everyone in the movie world dealt with Sandra being a bitch for 3 years, but we only had about a half hour of it before he started being the asshole, so our impression as an audience would tend to sway towards “Why’s he being such a dick?”  Betty White was pretty enjoyable in the movie, but they take the easy approach to making comedy for her by turning everything she does into “Old People Do the Darnedest Things”.  The part where she was doing the strange chanting thing in the woods served no purpose whatsoever, especially since it wasn’t very humorous.  And how did an uptight person like Margaret know the lyrics to “Get Low” by Lil Jon and the Eastside Boyz?  She’s an editor, and should find the misspelling of “little” and “boys” abhorrent.  Mary Steenburgen had a disappointingly small role in the movie, and Craig T. Nelson pretty much just served as the antagonist to Reynolds.  Oscar Nunez had some parts that some might find funny, but I don’t find it shocking enough to see an out of shape person dancing in Speedos.  I see that all the time.  The idea that he played so many roles around town could have been funny, but they didn’t really write it to much effect.  It was novel of the movie to not take the obvious approach with Malin Akerman’s ex-girlfriend character, making her a bitch who would get in the way of Sandra and Ryan, but they just decided to make her wallpaper for most of the scenes she was in.  Pretty to look at, but you forget it’s there after some time.  Having her going after Reynolds would’ve been an interesting quandary.  Given the choice, I think I’d have a hard time choosing between Sandra Bullock and Malin Akerman too.  I guess it would depend on what I was choosing them for.  Sandra’s the kind you take home to momma, and Malin seems like the kind that you just take home.  I suppose there’s a chance she’s got a good personality to go with them good looks though.

I feel like this is a movie that the cast did their best to elevate, but the writers could not be swayed to do anything beyond the cookie cutter movie.  If you know this movie exists, you can probably tell me (with a very low margin of error) exactly where it’s going.  It’s charming, but not that romantic or funny.  It’s not painful to watch, but it’s entirely forgettable.  And skippable.  I don’t think I’d recommend you watch this movie, but I also don’t think you’d hate it if you did.  I’ll leave you to make your own decisions.  I’ve given you enough random words for this day.  To add a few more, The Proposal gets “I’m sorry for feeding you to the eagle” out of “I call it ‘The Baby Maker’.”

Hey, peeps. Why not rate and comment on this as a favor to good ole Robert, eh? And tell your friends! Let’s make me famous!

Ghost Town (2008)


RedBox, you’ve done it again.  You’ve given me the ability to see movies I didn’t trust enough to see earlier.  I’ve always found that I like Ricky Gervais, but I never trust his movies.  First I was surprised by The Invention of Lying to find that I liked it, then I was not as surprised to find I did not care for either Night at the Museum movies.  This movie is not those movies.  This movie is Ghost Town, starring of course Gervais, Greg Kinnear, Tea Leoni, with a little bit from Aasif Mandvi and Kristen Wiig.

Ghost Town is the story of a douche nozzle named Bertram Pincus (Gervais), a dentist, who goes in to a doctor for surgery on his butt, administered by Kristen Wiig.  On his way home he starts seeing people that people can walk through.  People of questionable amounts of life.  People that are ghosts.  Zak Bagans runs in and shoves a digital recorder in their face, but Gervais can hear them sans digital recorders, and see them without the use of full-spectrum cameras.  Gervais is quick to return to Wiig to find that he died a little during his surgery, which has caused him to Haley Joel Osment it up.  The most pushy of the ghosts is recently deceased Greg Kinnear who needs Gervais to help his widow Tea Leoni break up with her boyfriend who only wants her for her money that Kinnear left her.  Gervais, being a more douchey version of myself (someone who does not like other people), develops a bit of a crush on Leoni and decides the best way to get her to dump her boyfriend is to become her boyfriend himself.  The rest of the movie is the quest to make this happen before Bruce Willis shows up.

I’m going to throw out all subtlety here: This movie is great.  It’s equal parts funny and touching, and also something I can find myself relating to because I feel that my loner ways will eventually progress to the levels of Gervais’ in this movie, and this will happen while I work to become a dentist.  I wouldn’t say that this movie is laugh out loud funny in the same vein as previously reviewed Hot Tub Time Machine as that’s not really Gervais’ style.  It’s subtle and witty humor, which I tend to value about as highly as the laugh out loud kind.  I may have mentioned it in another review (I’ve kind of lost track by now), but I one day intend to marry Kristen Wiig, or at least kidnap her and force her to entertain me.  Wiig tends to be the funniest part of any movie she’s in, and she keeps that up here.  The rest of the movie is pretty funny too.  It’s also nice to see Daily Show correspondent Aasif Mandvi showing up in more movies, as I believe the only other one’s I’ve seen him in are Spiderman 3 and The Last Airbender, and I like him too much to think he deserves such a resume.

This movie is more than a simple comedy.  It has a dusting of Rom-Com to it as well.  But it’s also very touching, as aforementioned.  Obviously there’s going to be sadness when there are dead people around, but the big secret of the movie (Spoiler, I suppose) is that the ghosts are not, in fact, stuck around because THEY have unfinished business, but because the people they loved won’t let them go.  So it’s not until Leoni falls for Gervais (or the other way around, not to spoil that) that Kinnear can finally be let go.  And the last scene is just purdy.  Leoni comes to visit Gervais in his dentist office because she has something wrong with her tooth, and the movie ends with Leoni saying “It hurts when I smile” and Gervais saying “I can help you with that”.  That is just damn purdy writing.

This movie has the kind of message I like to see in a movie: That someone uglier and fatter than me with similar personality problems can get better and land them a Tea Leoni.  And as I’m skinnier, prettier, and less emotionally damaged than Gervais in this movie, I should be able to land a younger Tea Leoni, like Leoni from Bad Boys.  Mmmmmmm.  Sorry, I got distracted.  I give this movie “The feel good movie I REALLY needed to see today” out of 13.